Revisiting Sue’s succulent garden
Last May I showed you my friend Sue’s front yard makeover. What had been lawn became two distinctive areas—one public, one private—separated by hardscape. The space under the large golden rain tree (Koelreuteria elegans) was planted with star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), fortnight lily (Dietes grandiflora) and variegated euonymus (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’).
Sue’s front yard seen from the sidewalk (April 4, 2016)
The courtyard behind the low retaining wall features an L-shaped raised bed. It’s constructed of poured concrete and finished to match the stucco of the house. The front wall of the raised bed is capped with slabs of slate that provide a comfortable place to sit.
This is what it looked like in May 2015:
May 14, 2015
May 14, 2015
Now let’s take a look at what this succulent bed looks like now:
Same bed, April 4, 2016
The progress is nothing short of amazing. What a difference a year makes!
The plants have been through one summer (average in terms of heat) and one winter (milder than average) and are looking great.
Clearly, what Sue’s been doing has paid off in spades. Many of the succulents have doubled, if not tripled, since last year. The echeverias, in particular, have offset like crazy, forming the ribbon of blue Sue had envisioned.
As I mentioned earlier, this past winter was quite mild. We had only a couple of nights with temperature more than a degree or two below freezing. The only losses Sue had were three small golden barrel cactus. That’s actually quite baffling considering Echinocactus grusonii is hardy to 15°F, at least for short periods of time. Our winter low was 26-27°F on December 27—well above that. Sue doesn’t think it was necessarily an issue with the cold. She had placed a polypropylene floating row cover on the planters to keep out leaves from a nearby tree; this cover may have kept the soil too wet and too warm, causing the cactus to rot.
But whatever the cause, it shows that in spite of our best intentions, plants have a mind all of their own.
I will check back with Sue in the late fall to see how much growing her succulents have done by then.
UPDATE JUNE 8, 2017: Click here to see what Sue’s succulent beds look like now (June 8, 2017).