Mariel's garden: succulents, gargoyles, pottery, and a bottle tree!
This year the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) has started a garden tour program where members are encouraged to open their garden for other members. Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the garden of SCSS vice president Mariel Dennis.
As you will see below, Mariel's garden is totally unique. Yes, there are succulents, but there are roses, gladiolas, butterfly bushes, geraniums, hydrangeas, fig trees, herbs, and a plethora of other plants as well. Then there's the garden art: glass ornaments, talavera pieces, head planters, and a whole lot more. And keeping watch over the front entryway are gargoyles that are unapologetically creepy.
At night, the backyard is lit up by a variety of light sources--from solar lanterns with glass blocks placed in front of them for added effect to rope lights laid on top of a gravel walkway. Mariel said that people have told her the backyard looks like an alien landing strip at night. But she loves it, and that's all that matters. I couldn't agree more. It may seem like a simple and obvious statement, but all too many gardeners are focused on what others might think of their garden. That should be completely secondary. We should create the kind of garden that makes us happy. If others like it, too--that's great. If not--well, too bad for them.
Let's start in the front of the house:
|I must admit, I wasn't sure initially about the two Italian cypresses flanking the entryway but by the time I left, I had a hard time imaging what the house would look like without them.|
|The cypresses do frame this pot very nicely|
|The blue flowers are from a plectranthus, not sure which species|
|The aloe on the left is a stunner. My guess is Aloe conifera.|
|What a fantastic combination!|
|The happiest hydrangea I've seen in years in the Sacramento area|
|Every nook and cranny is used for plants or decorations|
|Not for the faint of heart!|
Now we're in the north side yard. The lot is wedge-shaped, with the narrowest point in the front, and the widest along the back fence. The side yards flare out and are actually larger than the area behind the house.
|One of a half dozen sitting areas in the garden|
The gravel area used to be lawn. Mariel and her husband took it out several years ago and created raised planters to compensate for the slow-draining clay soil.
|Just a few of Mariel's many talavera containers|
A series of racks against the north side of the house are home to a small portion of Mariel's potted succulents, including a nice collection of haworthias. I could have spent hours looking at all the plants.
|I don't think I've ever seen Lithops staged better. Because the rocks and the plants look so similar, guessing which is which becomes a fun game.|
|Crested beauty in the perfect pot|
|Echeveria 'Compton's Carousel'|
|The head pot is by Sacramento area potter Connie Esquibel|
|A very simple combo, but I found it strikingly beautiful. Not sure about the plant, but it looks like a Graptosedum.|
|Mariel has all the head planters I've always wanted!|
|The purple-flowering perennial is Canary Island sage (Salvia canariensis)|
|Mariel calls this bed "Aloe Heaven"|
|I was trying to figure out what the pink-flowering shrub was until I realized it's just regular Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) weaving its way through the variegated Buddleja.|
|Variegated Yucca gloriosa|
|Yucca 'Blue Boy' and lavender cotton (Santolina sp.)|
|Agave 'Cornelius' and gazanias|
|Epiphyllums in hanging baskets under a pepper tree|
|This was my favorite piece of glass art in Mariel's garden|
|Standing at the eastern fence looking towards the north side yard (right) and the house|
|The racks you saw earlier from a different angle|
|Mariel leading SCSS members through the north side yard|
|Another inviting spot to sit|
|Looking south towards the greenhouse and the south side yard|
|Rope lights and transparent glass tiles. This strip used to be lawn as well.|
|I can only imagine how beautiful this must be at night!|
|I must replicate some of Mariel's combinations!|
|Looking back towards the north side yard|
|LEFT: Euphorbia horrida 'Snowflake' in a Connie Equibel pot RIGHT: Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'|
|Two fairy gardens Mariel recently made. The attention to detail is amazing!|
|Another sitting area next to the greenhouse (currently empty)|
Now we're in the south side yard. It's the same shape and size as as the north side yard.
|Mariel's handyman Steve (in the tan T-shirt in the photo above) built the greenhouse to Mariel's specifications|
|Sitting area under the pepper tree in the southeastern corner|
|Tapestry of sedums and thymes|
|I must admit, I have a weakness for bottle trees. I don't have one myself, but it's just a matter of time...|
|One last look at the south side yard|
A big thank you to Mariel and her husband Ian for their hospitality! I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.