Friday, January 22, 2021

Another renovation of the garage front succulent bed

I seem to renovate the succulent bed in front of the garage all too often.  When we moved in 10 years ago, the area had a well-established clump of Agave attenuata, a lovely Arbutus 'Marina', grass and weeds.  

This clump has been the source for all the Agave attenuata in my garden save one

We removed the lawn early on and I planted a host of other succulents, mostly small specimens.  I've tweaked and renovated the area before but it has never really pleased me.  Although I supplemented and raised the soil level, it's still not the best medium to grow succulents, or anything else.  It's also a very dry area, even though it receives some irrigation but I've probably been less attentive to my new plants there than I should've been.

This is my "before" shot

I tackled the three things that bothered me most last week.  They were the Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' I'd selected in 2019 to provide a focal point and two Crassulas I'd used extensively as fillers. 

This is the sad Furcraea before I dug it up

Both problem Crassulas can be seen here.  The sickly-looking yellow plants in front are Crassula lycopodioides and the spindly plants behind them are Crassula tetragona.

These are all nice plants - in other settings.  I grew a variegated Furcraea in a partially shaded area of my back garden years ago and it did well until I decided it was clearly too large for its spot and had to move.  It didn't take the move well and quickly died.  I think the spot in the garage front succulent bed was both too sunny and too dry for this one.  The same probably could be said for Crassula lycopodioides.  The Crassula tetragona (aka pine tree succulent) simply got too tall and lanky and ended up looking out of proportion with the surrounding plants.

Crassula lycopodioides is much happier here in a shadier area of my garden, mixed in with two species of Aeoniums

I potted a Furcraea offset, which may or may not survive.  I pulled out all of the Crassula lycopodioides and I took a mass of cuttings of the Crassula tetragona, which I've yet to decide what to do with.  On my first pass, I filled in some of the vacancies with a potted plant and cuttings from elsewhere in the garden.

The Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' (top) was in a pot and it's still very small but, if I'm lucky, it'll grow to become a wonderful focal point.  Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi Verde' (bottom left) has done well everywhere I've planted it so I'm trying it out to replace Crassula lycopodioides as a filler.  I added a handful of my other standby, Aeonium arboreum (bottom right), in a shadier spot.

This was the bed after those changes, not looking all that different.  I stared at it off and on for quite awhile before I figured out what was bothering me.

I had a stockpile of plants in pots and tiny plants obtained by mail order to add to the area but I had a hard time deciding how to proceed.  I finally realized that I needed to pull the under-performing Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' ('Kiwi Verde's' flashier cousin), which I'd used throughout the bed as another filler.  I've previously described this plant as my "gateway" succulent.  It was the first succulent I ever grew and it was one of the few plants I brought with me from my former garden.  Aeonium 'Kiwi' and Aeonium arborescens are my go-to plants to fill bare spots.  I've used 'Kiwi' extensively to line the edge of beds and, up to this point, I've always been pleased with it.

These photos show two of the areas in which I've used 'Kiwi'

Well, 'Kiwi' didn't come through for me in this spot on the north west side of the house so I yanked the bulk of it.

This photo shows the bed after I'd removed most of the Aeonium 'Kiwi'.  A few pots were laid out as I considered possible placements.

With that change, I felt free to move other plants within this bed and transplant other things I had in the wings in pots and elsewhere in the garden.

Top: Agave 'Cornelius', which mimics the color of Agave 'Stained Glass', and a pup of Agave 'Jaws'
Middle: Three Aloes, none of which I can identify.
Bottom: Aeonium nobile (the green one rescued from between 2 large Agaves) and Echeveria agavoides

With rain in the forecast, I also decided to get my tiny new mail-order purchases planted and even sow some seeds.

Top: Crassula ovata 'Money Maker' (3), Echeveria amoena (3), and Echeveria rusbyi (3)
Middle: Graptopetalum paraguayense (3), Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins' (5), and Mangave 'Barney' (1)
Bottom: Sedeveria 'Blue Elf' (5), Senecio cephalophorus (1), and Senecio kleiniformis (3)

I also sowed seeds of Calendula 'Bronze Beauty' in the space between the rocks and the pathway, which may have been a mistake as the soil really isn't good but we'll see 

I still have loads of cuttings but I'll wait out the three rainstorms reportedly in the offing before I make decisions about which, if any, should be planted in this area.  Worst case, I'll offer another succulent cutting giveaway to neighbors.

Here are the photos of the bed in its current state I forgot to include when I published the post last night:


Further changes are likely!

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party



18 comments:

  1. It's fun to see those little mail order purchases safely in the soil. I grow succulents in pots and for years I kept them outside during the growing season and inside during the winter. Now I keep them inside year-round because the chipmunks liked to dig around them. Mini-succulents are fun to grow. Your garden paths are so inspiring; I need to add more pathways in my garden. Another great post!

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    1. I guess I'm lucky there aren't any chipmunks here, Beth! Squirrels, skunks, bunnies, and even the dastardly raccoons seem to be completely uninterested in my succulents.

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  2. Awesome amount of work, Kris! Amazing how much beauty -- and hard work! -- succulents add to the garden.

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    1. I probably should have held off awhile until I could get more planting mix to further improve the soil but I've been avoiding even trips to the local garden center recently and, regrettably, my homemade compost isn't quite ready for use yet.

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  3. "I stared at it off and on for quite awhile before I figured out what was bothering me."... this is an important part of gardening! I always feel so self conscious when I have to take this step in the front garden. For what it's worth I think you're on the right track and things are already looking grand.

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    1. I've had a harder time with this succulent bed than any other, Loree. I think it really wants both more rock and additional soil adjustment but, as both those changes would require trips I wasn't prepared to make right now, I went ahead anyway (although I did move a few rocks from elsewhere). The work helps me from going stir-crazy.

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  4. Looking good, Kris. When it fills in, it will be like a Persian carpet of color and texture. :)
    Glad rain is in your forecast. Stay well, take care.

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    1. We got about a third of an inch of rain from the first storm, Eliza. There are supposed to be two more in the offing but that was a decent start. I used the break between storms this afternoon to sow some more seeds too.

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  5. Just an amazing display. I am green with envy!

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  6. Quite a makeover! Glad you’ve finally figured things out and have made the changes. Looking forward to its progress.

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    1. I imagine additional tweaks will happen as soon as we dry out a bit. To start with, the back of that bed needs more aeoniums!

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  7. Seeing this and reading about your remodel makes me itchy to do some of the same here. Kiwi looks beautiful in the areas where it likes to grow. I bet this will turn out to be a pleasant space for you now.

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    1. Your comment made me realize that the frustration I currently feel because the current state of the pandemic here has prevented me from getting out to a garden center is nothing relative to the frustrations those of you in colder climates feel about not even being able to get out and work in your gardens. Thanks Lisa. Perspective is always helpful!

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  8. Whether a plants out grow a space or our taste outgrow a plant, there is always something that needs tinkering with. Where would we be if it didn't... Additionally, while I may look at a bed and think it's fabulous, you are just not satisfied by it. I love that you did in that bed; after a bit of growing and filling spaces, it's going to look gorgeous.

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    1. Unlike the succulent bed on the south side of our house, this bed on the northwest side has never hit the mark for me in any of its iterations. If the Calendula seeds sprout, the little bit of softness the flowers add may help. I may add some blue fescue grass to help there too.

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  9. Hi Kris. I like the colors and textures in your succulent bed! I also love how you have rocks in that bed. I am sure your succulent bed will look outstanding. I identify that it is suboptimal in redoing the garden when you cannot get to garden centers.
    Many years ago, I made two areas of the front landscape, including the Japanese garden, succulent beds, thinking they would not only require less water, but that they would be less maintenance. I found that they definitely required work to maintain and I was unhappy with the appearance within a relatively short period of time. Two plants you mentioned were culprits: C lycopodioides “watch chain plant” because it would easily break off and rain would distribute it to other “downstream” garden locations. Yours looks wonderful in the other garden bed: it does have a beautiful bright green color. I was also unhappy C tetragona because it would get leggy. One plant that I was happy with and remains in my garden is Kalanchoe “Paddle Plant”.
    Happy gardening!

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    1. Succulents do tend to either get leggy or overgrow their spots! In my case, I think I need a few more bulky specimens to anchor the space.

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