Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Succulents and Grasses

On a recent trip to Roger's Gardens in Orange County I took a stroll of the demonstration garden that borders the busy streets on the far corner of the property.  I've yet to get any of my friends to take the brief hike up that way but I've walked the area twice when visiting the garden center on my own.  The first visit was in early January this year and my second visit was just over a week ago.  The mixture of succulents and grasses appeals to me as I've been considering doing something similar with my miserable back slope.  All plant names provided in the captions below represent my best guesses rather than definitive identifications.

The largest succulents here appear to be Agave americana 'Variegata' are Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' (thanks for the ID Hoover Boo!), accompanied by Agave attenuata and Aloe dorotheae

The scale many not be evident but those Agave ovatifolia are huge (at least by comparison to the 2 in my garden)

I didn't recognize the grass in the middle of the photo here as Muhlenbergia capillaris back in January but the pink color here gives it away.  The large clumping "grass" in the foreground on the left may be Lomandra and the low-growing grass on the right may be a species of Carex, possibly C. praegracilis (aka California field sedge).

Chondropetalum tectorum and Yucca, shown in the foreground here, mimic the grasses in form




I also took some photos of the large borders along the sidewalk and the narrower strip along the street.

In addition to succulents like Aeonium and Aloe, the sidewalk borders used Leucadendron, Westringia 'Morning Light' and Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'

The parking strip (not actually permitted for parking by my recollection) is lined in what I believe are Chondropetalum tectorum and Aloe 'Rooikappie'


I took few photos of the garden center's interior area on this visit but the area surrounding the new Farmhouse restaurant at the back of the property was an exception.  Like the front area of the property, this area made extensive use of succulents and grasses.

I've yet to eat at the Farmhouse but my understanding is that it's run by the chef who previously operated Sage, which was one of my favorite restaurants when I worked in the Orange County years ago


I like the contrast between the color and sculptural forms of the succulents and the wispy grasses, including the grass-like substitutes Roger's has used in its landscaping.  Succulents benefit from the softening effect of grasses.  With the right selections, both can get along with minimal care once established, making them good prospects for my ugly back slope.

The upper portion of the slope above the concrete stairway, planted with ivy and honeysuckle by prior owners, hasn't recovered from the devastation caused by the untimely June heatwaves despite increased irrigation


My husband is amenable to hiring help to renovate the back slope, although he might be less so once he sees a quote.  I think the area needs terracing to make it more usable and, as it's accessible only by a steep narrow path, I don't think it'll be easy to get material and equipment down there.  But I can dream.  We agreed to hold off a while to see if the plants on the upper portion of the slope miraculously recover with the winter rains.  As the season-to-date rain total is just over one-third of an inch, I have my doubts that'll happen but I have other projects to keep me busy in the interim.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

18 comments:

  1. Those are really great gardens, Kris. The grasses and Agaves really work well together. I really love the neat and tidy look of the hellstrip, although it probably isn't as interesting when the aloes are not blooming. Very cool.

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    1. If I'm right and that's Aloe 'Rooikappie' along the street, it blooms sporadically throughout the year for me, unlike other Aloes. I wondered why Roger's used just the one variety - the frequency of its blooms may account for the decision.

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  2. terraces do make gardening more of a pleasure and less of an alarming mission. Even on our very gently sloping plot, a few steps, makes it simpler.
    That aloe and restio combination is fresh and attractive.

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    1. I'd like to believe that some intrepid landscaper could terrace that back slope for a price that won't make me choke but I fear that the very difficulty of getting materials and equipment down there may add to the price (if it doesn't send contractors packing on first sight).

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  3. A. vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' are the big Agaves in the first pic. Rogers did a great job on that area. It was boring old lawn for decades.

    Your slope will be a great project. Enjoy the journey.

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    1. Ah! Agave vilmoriana 'Stained Glass' makes more sense! Thanks for the ID!

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  4. A combination of grasses and succulents will look fabulous on that slope. I do hope you can get it terraced though. It looks like gardening there could be dangerous otherwise.

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    1. The upper section above the concrete stairway is really impossible for me to handle, especially with my bad right knee. A gentler transition would make the space so much more usable.

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  5. Well even though your friends aren't up for the adventure (short walk?) I am glad you are, that's some beautiful plantings! Here's to getting some help for your slope, I'm sure you can come up with a fabulous planting plan...and leave the actual work to someone else (fingers crossed).

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    1. It's really NOT a long walk but I guess my friends find the space less interesting than I do. Both my husband and I like to do things for ourselves rather than bringing in hired help but there are limits!

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  6. The grasses in bloom are lovely, but of course one has to consider all the other months. It must be tricky to get the right combination of clumpy succulents and vertical accents. Good luck with the back slope. I look forward to watching the progress.

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    1. Many of the ornamental grasses and grass substitutes we can grow here look pretty good year-round, even if they bloom only for a short period each year. I've got Lomandra 'Breeze' in a number of areas already. Ditto Seslaria, Festuca and Pennisetum. I don't anticipate problems in that respect. Leveling the ground and improving the mostly hard-baked clay soil are the big hurdles.

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  7. I've been enjoying that planting too, and have made the walk for close inspection, but I understand your friends' reluctance -- just not an inviting walk past the service driveways, etc. The aloes and restios in the parkway is an interesting experiment that I'm not sure works, scale-wise, with the aloes almost concealed, interspersed as they are rather than alternating massed plantings of each maybe? But I applaud the high-profile use of succulents/agaves and grasses to hold that corner -- looks lush, with lots of interest and texture. Good example for their customers and the community of the beauty of a dry garden. If you tackle the slope, you'll need a sitting area carved out at the bottom to admire it, right? ;)

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  8. Grasses and succulents are great partners used well in this garden and would be delightful on your slope. I'm with Denise on the sitting area.

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    1. All I need is a flat area to put seats on!

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  9. Those are super nice demonstration plantings. I can see why you were inspired. I think you can recreate your own version without terracing. As nice as it would be, it's expensive as you pointed out.

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    1. I can't help being enticed by all those photos I see of lovely terraced spaces but I know it's a pricey process under the best of circumstances and the difficulty accessing this space is likely to add to the cost.

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