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Succulent Leaf Propagation: How to Make New Plants from Old

If leaves pop off a succulent readily, that’s a clue that those leaves probably are capable of generating roots and new little plants. Like these of Sedum rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’.

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Notice how the original leaf has wrinkled as its life-giving fluids have gone into leaf and root production? I love the beadlike quality of the new little leaves, and the way the original leaf contains everything needed to create life. Interesting, too, that where the leaf was attached to the stem, the cellular tissue can form both leaves and roots. Continue Reading →

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Jewels of the Cactus and Succulent Show

Succulent enthusiasts flock to the annual Cactus & Succulent Society Show at the Los Angeles Arboretum mid-August. It’s the largest of its kind in the US. Judges award ribbons and trophies based on how well a specimen is grown, its rarity, and how well it’s “staged” in its pot. Pots aren’t merely containers, they’re works of art, and may be more valuable than the plant. Below are what caught my eye and photographed well, but represent only a fraction of the unusual and beautiful succulents on display.

Agave victoriae-reginae

Above: Agave victoriae-reginae, named after England’s Queen Victoria. Continue Reading →

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Succulent Plant-Pot Pairings

What comes first for you, the plant or the pot? For me it’s usually the pot. When a friend presents me with a special pot, it’s a given that I’ll plant it with succulents. But I don’t always know what will look good in it. So I ask the pot what it wants. I take it to the nursery, and walk the aisles with it, trying on plants. What I look for are  good scale and proportion; repetitions of shapes, colors or patterns; and (sometimes) an element of whimsy.

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Above: This was a gift from potter Don Hunt, whose work I collect, and who sells at San Diego’s Cactus & Succulent Society shows. Dots in the glaze, and the fact that the pot seemed to be asking for a trailing plant, inspired the selection of string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). I added beads for bling. Continue Reading →

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Summer Shadows

Shadows are as much a part of a Southern California summer as sunshine itself. These play with the imagination like a midsummer day’s dream.

Euphorbia shadow_JFR

Above: Flowers of a columnar euphorbia.

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Above: Aloe flower and stair rail. Continue Reading →

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Chanticleer – A Tour With Dan Benarcik

“Garden making is fundamentally not an intellectual enterprise. Most people come to gardens to experience some form of beauty.” Chris Woods

Chanticleer, a 47 acre garden in the suburbs of Philadelphia, was the personal estate of Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. and was passed down to his son, Adolph Jr. and daughter, Emily.

As Adrian Higgins writes in Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden, “Adolph Rosengarten. Jr., loved trees, and the cultural legacy of Chanticleer that he and his sister, and their parents before them, left for us was dependent on trees in what was once open farmland. Without them today, Chanticleer would lose its air of permanence and be seen for what it is: essentially a remarkable but young garden begun in 1990.”

When Rosengarten decided to transform it into a public garden, he hired Chris Woods in 1983, a young English gardener who became the first executive director of Chanticleer in 1990.

Chris “formulated a clear vision of how the garden should develop, assembled a team of highly talented horticulturists, and gave them the freedom to be creative and take risks.”

Taken from Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden – Written by Adrian Higgins. Photos by Rob Cardillo.

The garden is a feast for the eyes -  each of the 13 is filled with intense and innovative plantings – so much so that I find it almost too much to digest in one visit.

When I visited this past June, I was lucky enough to find Dan Benarcik, an incredibly gifted horticulturist, in The Tea Cup Garden. He kindly agreed to take us on a tour of the Courtyard and Tea Cup Gardens – 2 of the 3 gardens where he creates/designs/plants/maintains.

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