succulents in spring

Prowling around the garden yesterday with this or that new plant in one hand, spade in the other, looking for planting opportunities where I already knew none existed, it seemed more constructive to put the spade down and pick up the camera. This small group of succulents right outside the kitchen door may be overgrown and out of shape by the end of summer, or changed up on a whim, so a spring portrait seems like a good idea at the moment.

The tall green pot holds a young Agave americana var. striata. I’ve been told never to select green ceramic pots, any color but green, since it will only blend into the background. Sometimes blending into the background is the point, though. Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ leans in, with Cotyledon orbiculata, the latter two planted in the garden. The thin red tips on the cotyledon just slay me.


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Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ is recovering from a winter of snail depredation. The snails mercifully eat mostly the older leaves lower down on the stems.
Last year Solanum marginatum grew here and was a small tree by the end of summer.

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This photo was taken on a different day, after an early morning fog.
I love that loosely incurved rosette shape that this hybrid inherits from Aeonium undulatum.
‘Cyclops’ is potentially a giant that may very soon become much too large for this small corner.

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This baby Agave victoriae-reginae was growing in the ground but became engulfed by surrounding plants, was rediscovered, rescued, and given a safe haven in a small pot atop a larger container. Small agaves can become engulfed and forgotten when one too frequently prowls the garden with a new plant in one hand and a spade in the other. Froth of lime green Sedum confusum on the right.

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Backing up a bit to include Aeonium balsamiferum, spilling out of a smaller pot.
I like the echo of pot rims and rings from this angle and the tension of containment and surge.
Sliver of a trunk on the left is a 6-foot Manihot grahamii also growing in this pot, its canopy an increasingly receding tuft of leaves as the maturing trunk twists and elongates. The yellow flowers are from the bulging Sedum confusum.

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Back further still. What a happy community they’ve made for themselves, for this brief moment in spring anyway. Self-sown bronzy Haloragis erecta threads around the pots, always choosing to seed at the garden edges.

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8 Responses to succulents in spring

  1. Pam/Digging says:

    I love green pots and have been coveting perhaps that same one for my garden. Your succulents are looking quite luscious, Denise.

  2. Grace says:

    TOTAL eye candy! And your prose isn’t bad either! In fact I was laughing out loud at the familiarity of, “…looking for planting opportunities where I already knew none existed…” So very true!

    Your green pot is another case of “rules are made to be broken.” It looks wonderful situated where it is, the focus being where it should be, on the Agave.

    Speaking of Agave americana var. ‘Striata’ I believe this is the same Agave growing beside a house here in Corvallis Oregon. I have a photo of it on my blog and would love for you to have a look and confirm or deny it. Thanks!

  3. Hoov says:

    Lovely, all of them, on a grey, grey day.

  4. Beautiful happy plants!

  5. Scott Weber says:

    Beautiful photos…and I love the part about prowling the garden, looking for space…SO TRUE!

  6. Chris says:

    Beautiful plants in such good condition. Aeonium cyclops is a monster.

  7. Denise says:

    Pam, I’ll never forget that comment about green pots by…Debra Lee Baldwin! when I attended one of her talks. I get her point, since most containers are planted for the wow factor, when sometimes I just want a nondescript way to corral all these plants I keep buying.
    Grace, of course I’m a faithful reader of your blog and saw that post. I think that one is a variegata. The striata has a tie-dye effect, not so clearly striped as the variegata.
    Hoov, I really enjoyed those overcast skies and saw on your blog how beautiful your garden looked under them.
    Loree, along with the Agave victoriae-reginae, my Yucca aloifolia purpurea was almost completely swamped. It’s been saved, moved, and coloring up nicely in full sun.
    Scott, spring is so hard in a small garden! Saw some amazing stuff at a nursery today.

  8. Les says:

    I am a master of the spade in one hand, new plant in the other dance.

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