Yum, Succulents!

I’ve developed a bit of a thing for succulents, which tells me (since I am the average American gardener) that there must be a lot of us out there.  On the left is a photo of sedums I took at at Oxford’s Royal Botanic Gardens and labeled “I could fall in love with sedums,” so my interest has been brewing for a while.  I enjoyed the sedums I saw in New Zealand, too.  This arrangement was at our lunchtime stop on our very last day there.  (Never mind that these may not be sedums but echeverias…)

Add to this my encounter with aeoniums in Scotland (these must be ‘Zwartzkopf’), and you have a minor obsession developing.

In my own garden I have sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ of course, but also ‘sieboldii,’ which may be my favorite with its cascade of stems; ‘Vera Jameson’ with her purple flowers nicely (and wholly accidentally) echoed by the dark pink crepe myrtle blooming above it;  and more recently ‘ternatum’ planted in the walkway garden to be used as a groundcover.  So in fact, though I’ve been intrigued with agaves and yuccas from a distance, the only succulents in my garden are sedums.

Comes now Debra Lee Baldwin with two beautiful books about succulents that take the reader beyond ‘Autumn Joy.’

The first one describes how to incorporate succulents into your garden design, considering color, texture, scale and all the other standard design elements.  Almost all of the featured gardens are from the west coast or the southwest, where “Landscaping for Fire Safety” is important.  For a zone 7 eastern gardener, it was more a pretty picture book than a gardening guide, although she does include a chapter on using succulents in colder climates.  Here, the most appealing pictures come from Thomas Hobbs’ Vancouver garden, where succulents are grown in luscious tapestries and then overwintered indoors.

Her more recent book concentrates on container gardening with succulents.

This is more my speed, and I must say the containers pictured here are truly delicious, with the pots beautifully paired with an array of sedums, echevarias, agaves and more.

For example, this gorgeous example of how attention to color, repetition and the right mulch come together in a stunning arrangement. This is called “lily pond” because that’s what it is echoing; much more effective than some of the arrangements that try to create miniature landscapes or incorporate Christmas balls and beads into the arrangements.

Though I did like the sedums planted in found objects from children’s fire trucks to teacups, reminding me of these sedums at the Waterford fair.

Though there’s lot of good information in here, and Baldwin obviously knows what she’s talking about, I was frustrated by the arrangement. I wish that her plant listings had included a picture, zone guide, etc. for each entry. So, in the end, enjoyable but not books I’ll return to very soon.

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