One of the vendors at the Carmichael Cactus & Succulent Society Show last weekend, Merlyn Lenear, was selling succulent dish gardens made of hollowed-out pumice rocks.
|Merlyn Lenear dish garden|
This gave me the idea to try something similar in our own garden. We have several larger boulders that, if they were dense rock like granite or basalt, would be impossible to lift by a single person. However, since they’re pumice (sometimes also called “tuff”), they’re remarkably light; I can lift one of them without having to strain too much.
Here is the rock I picked for my first experiment. Also note the spider agave (Agave bracteosa ‘Calamar’) next to it.
Using a hammer and small chisel, I created a hollow in the taller part of the rock. Pumice rock is very soft, and it took me less than an hour of leisurely tapping to make this hole. (It was actually an enjoyable, almost meditative, exercise.)
I then drilled four holes using a spade bit to ensure flawless drainage.
And finally I transplanted the spider agave from the shallow bowl it had been in for four years into the hollow in the rock. Since I had to trim some of the woody roots to fit the agave into the hole, I made sure to use dry succulent mix as backfill. I won’t water for at least a week so the broken roots can heal.
Since in their native habitat spider agaves grow on cliff faces, this is actually a somewhat naturalistic way of planting this particular species (except back home in Mexico, they would hang from the rocks). I had forgotten that Agave bracteosa leaves are very fragile, and I ended up breaking the tips of three of them. Too bad since this is such a slow growing plant.
Surrounding the Agave bracteosa are an Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’ (top right) and an Aloe sinkatana (bottom right), which mirrors the long strappy leaves of the spider agave.
I have another pumice rock that I want to turn into a community planter for sedums and sempervivums. Stay tuned for an update.