Sherman Gardens "Coral Reef" Succulent Bed

The San Diego designer who created the first "coral reef" style succulent beds has started a trend.  Here in Corona del Mar another designer created the Sherman Gardens version, not as "coral reef-ish" (no plastic fish) but just as beautiful.  Perhaps it should be called a succulent tapestry rather than a coral reef.  It omits some plants that create a distinct coral-like effect, such as Euphorbia caput-medusae,  and cristate or monstrose forms of plants like Euphorbia lactea cristata.  A drawback of choosing those plants is the price, availability, and sometimes fragility of cristate and monstrose specimens. 

Shrubby silvery Crassula arborescens on the right, an Aloe in back, Bromeliads on the left, Senecio serpens (or mandraliscae) below: 

Even at a dollar apiece, several hundred Echeverias can get pricey.  So start planning and propagating now, and by the time you have 500 Echeverias ready to plant, the "coral reef" style will be long passe.   No, seriously, it is beautiful.  It's glorious, as a matter of fact.

Variegated Agave americana 'Medio Picta Alba' next to the trunk of an Aloe dichotoma, Senecio radicans cascading from the basket on the left, blue Senecio and Echeverias below:
Dasylirion wheelerii there on the right, on the left a few bromeliads, a blue river of Senecio serpens (mandraliscae?) below:
  Echeveria subridigda and other species of Echeveria, Echeveria 'After Glow',  Echeveria 'Perle Von Nürnberg', with small hybrid Aloes at the center of the encircling Echeverias:
 I wish I had the budget to create this spectacle:  Blue Curls Echeveria, lavender-grey Graptopetalum, 
Although this bed looks recently planted, the very mild conditions near the ocean will keep these plants plumper, more luxuriant, and less sunburnt than they would be just a few miles inland:

The variegated Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' will eventually out grow this setting, but for now it is gorgeous, surrounded by bromileads, Graptopetalum superbum, Echeverias.  Sedum morganianum spills from the container:
Even the rocks are beautiful:

Awesome Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta'  there on the left, with a sparse (hard grown?) but blooming Aloe pilcatilis at the top center.
Pink and blue are not necessarily insipid. 

5/17/2011 Update: some slight changes to this planter bed here

 6/9/2015 Update:  another succulent tapestry bed here.


  1. Luscious photos! I wanted to climb into my computer screen. The color is so jolting (in a good way) and the form, the spikes, it's all gorgeous.

  2. Lots of color. It is great to see such a well designed succulent garden.

  3. That is so beautiful, and such a treat. I love succulents. What a lot of work it must be to keep it like that. Replanting all of those little echeverrias every year... and the blue senecio. A beautiful and exceptionally vigorous grower, unfortunately. I just pulled all mine out *sob* because I couldn't keep up with it.

  4. What lovely planting. It's just a shame echeverias don't cope better with wet winters, I already grow loads and would go mad if I could plant them and leave them planted.

  5. Is this display under glass? Every plant is so perfect! I've got one small border just of succulents -- and I always think it needs "something" else. More grasses maybe. But the Sherman is pulling off some bravura stuff here. That varieg americana almost looks like that snazzy new varieg bracteosa. I've moved some bromeliads out into the garden this winter too. They seem to handling full winter sun OK.

  6. The succulents are out in the open air.

    Snazzy new variegated A. bracteosa? Oooh!!!! Sounds like a must-have.

  7. Wow, these are amazing. I LOVE Succulents, i dont recognize some of these varieties though, any chance we could get a list of species used?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. urban I added some IDs for the plants, hope that helps.

  10. Oh my gosh...I am actually drooling! LOL Your photos are awesome, thank you so much for sharing with us. What a glorious place!

  11. Beautiful succulent garden. Can't wait to visit Sherman, it is on my list! Jeannine

  12. It's been too long since I've wandered around Sherman Gardens--this "coral" succulent reef is stunning!

  13. These are awesome! I love succulents.. they're so exotic

  14. that ? Cotyledon orbiculata
    might be Crassula ovata - depending on how it flowers.

    1. Thanks; I need to correct that, this post was done a long time ago, before I really got into succulent plants. It's Crassula arborescens.

  15. A budget friendly idea is to try to start new plants by taking off healthy leaves of echevaria. Just pull off healthy leaves and lay them out on a plate in a shaded protected area (I place them on my patio). A few days later, you will see roots and a small plant appear at the base of the leaf. It eventually gets to be a little tiny plant that you can plant in cactus mix to become a full grown plant!

  16. This is true. I don't really even feel the need to have a bench in my garden because I spend quite a bit of time looking at it while working. What really feels like work to me is when I have an overload of weeding to do in the spring or when I'm clearing briars.


Post a Comment

Always interested in your thoughts.

Any comments containing a link to a commercial site with the intent to promote that site will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding on this matter.