The San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT) is one of those places I never tire of visiting. On Monday I joined a group of local gardeners in front of this gorgeous succulent wall just inside the main entrance of SABOT.
The occasion was a talk by Don Clowe, retired attorney and volunteer at the SABOT, who created and maintains the wall. Don's own inspiring garden was featured on Central Texas Gardener back in 2009.
Starting with an existing stacked-stone wall of Texas limestone, Don began by planting the crevices with succulent cuttings from his own garden. It didn't take long for him to realize he needed a lot more plants to fill this large-scale space. In addition to shopping local nurseries, Don scouts estate sales looking for unusual or interesting succulents to add to the collection. I was immediately drawn to the purple and silver combinations mixed among the greens in this planting scheme.
Don doesn't work with a plan and prefers to move things around until they look just right. A few plants in plastic pots are set into the wall while others occasionally need help to stay in place. Unlike most succulent arrangements, letting these plants get leggy stems actually makes it easier to keep them secured in the crevices. He doesn't limit his artistry to succulents and includes ferns, dichondra and other appropriate plants in the mix.
Don shared a few tips and tricks for keeping all those succulents in top shape. Two of his favorite tools are a weed digger and a fish hook puller because they make it easy to slide plants in and out of the narrow spaces. During freezes, the wall is covered with frost cloth which works well in this protected microclimate. This scene reminds me of water seeping down canyon walls.
Don said the best compliment was when the SABOT management decided to move the exhibition signs from the front to the top of the wall so visitors could enjoy unobstructed views of the planted wall.
When I heard we would be learning about succulent walls I pictured one of those vertical frames that have been popular in recent years. This is even better and, while it's probably not easy, the results look so natural and appropriate to our region. By the end of the talk many of us were thinking of places we might try this in our own gardens.
I'm linking with Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-Up. Visit the comments section at Digging for links to garden bloggers celebrating foliage in our gardens.
About those Lego displays mentioned on the SABOT signs--that's a post for another day.