Sunrise on Succulents; design by Debra Lee Baldwin

Sunrise on Succulents; design by Debra Lee Baldwin

 

From Seattle to San Diego;

three hours and a world of plants away.

My husband Andy and I were working in southern California last week, basking in the warm sunshine. Whenever time allowed I would scurry off with my camera to take photos of the incredible landscapes that relied heavily on drought tolerant succulents. Everywhere I looked there were firecracker colors, attracting all manner of hummingbirds and bees.

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Such striking colors and shapes

Some vignettes were larger than life such as this display at the San Diego Botanical Garden.

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Others were Lilliputian in scale yet every bit as intricate

Design by Laura Eubanks in the garden of Debra Lee Baldwin

Design by Laura Eubanks in the garden of Debra Lee Baldwin

These succulents are hardy in San Diego but for those of us in colder climates we can enjoy many of them as summer annuals or as houseplants that take a little vacation in our summer gardens. Regardless of how you use them there are some clear design tips we can glean from these displays.

1. Color

Mix it up! Throw a little orange or red into the greens and blues and just watch those combinations come alive. This could be a succulent foliage such as Euphorbia ‘Fire Sticks’ or a long blooming flower. In Seattle we could try one of the new red hot pokers that have tidy foliage, a more compact habit and longer bloom time e.g. Mango popsicle. The flower color and shape is very similar to many of those I photographed.

Euphorbia 'Fire Sticks' glows at sunrise, sunset and every hour in between

Euphorbia ‘Fire Sticks’ glows at sunrise, sunset and every hour in between

2. Foliage texture

Spikes rule in the succulent kingdom but there are lots of other shapes too. Look for flattened rosettes, and plump teardrops for contrast.

 

Mix spotted spikes with softer rosettes and add a dash of orange!

Mix spotted spikes with softer rosettes and add a dash of orange!

 3. Spacing

Get up close and personal – especially if you are planning a summer display. The beauty of Laura Eubanks‘ work below is the snuggle factor.

A tapestry of snuggled succulents - by Laura Eubanks

A tapestry of snuggled succulents set off by lava rock – by Laura Eubanks. Garden of Debra Lee Baldwin

So whether you live in Scotland or Seattle, San Diego or South Carolina you can still enjoy a succulent safari. It may be on your kitchen table for many months of the year or you may be able to plant acreage this way but follow these simple tips and the display will always be fabulous.

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