Then And Now: Sherman Gardens Succulent Tapestry/Succulent Coral Reef Garden

2017

The original Sherman Gardens "Coral Reef" Succulent post, from 2011, is one of the most viewed on this blog.  I've been meaning to get back to Sherman for an update and it finally happened last week.  It was time to see how the bed has evolved, not only because the original post's photos were on Photobucket, which recently decided it wanted considerable money for hosting photos:  $40 a month.  $400/year.  I'm not against paying for storage, but there are many far less expensive options.  Like, free.    

I updated that 2011 post with photos stored elsewhere.  

Since 2011 I've gotten a much better camera, my photo taking skills are, if not better, at least more practiced, and this incredible planter has changed somewhat.  I didn't get quite the identical shots on each visit, but let's compare what we can.

2011:
 2017:
Some plants have grown a lot.  The Furcrea has grow enormously, as has some of the bromileads.  Just beyond where the bromileads in the above photo are now, back in 2011 there was a large Dasylirion wheeleri.  That must have been a tough removal. 
2011: 


The bed is maybe 8-10' deep, and...40' long?  I should go back again and figure that out.  It's big.  


Extreme right corner, 2011:
 2017:  the silver dollar Crassula is about the same.  Different bromileads, and larger.                                              
A new variegated Agave attenuata, two new spiral Aloes.
A trio of aloes to the left of the huge bromilead, including a quite large A. dichotoma, and I didn't get a good shot of them.  Beyond that a pile of rocks crowned with Agave ovatifolia and an Aloe rubroviolacea.  Lots of rocks.  I'd forgotten the rocks.   The Agave ovatifolia replaces an Agave americana 'Medio Picta Alba'.  I see the advantage of the ovatifolia:  no dozens of offsets to remove.  Ovatifolia is solitary.  
2011:
2017:  The area seems to have been mounded higher with more stone.  A. ovatifolia is a shorter, wider grower than A. americana 'Medio Picta Alba'.  The temporary glass art-objects here, fine in other parts of the gardens, are distracting.  There is a visual overload without the glass!  More is too much. 
2017.  Aloe rubroviolacea is not labeled, but it has a distinctive look.  Dwarf hybrid aloes and Graptopetalums crammed in where they fit.
 Then a...an Aloe marlothii or ferox, I think, (another thing I didn't get a photo of), another big clump of bromilead, an Aloe plicatilis looking a little out-competed by its neighbors, and the big anchoring Furcraea on the left.  
2017:
 The foreground of the bed is a tight tapestry of small succulents and stones.  We'll go back to the other end...quite rocky...I realize now, looking harder, my knowledge a little more developed than it was in 2011, that carefully arranged rocks are key to this bed.  They provide visual relief, frames for many of the plants, a place to put feet for maintenance...

I did not get a photo of the very far end front in 2017  (spatial skills still lacking).  
2011:
 It's not much different in 2017 except the Furcraea is even larger, and Agave 'Stained Glass' is gone from the container. 


Now, some of the foreground of the bed.  This is the area to the right of the far end, in front of the Aloe dichotoma. The largest set-on edge stones, creating crevices, with Echeveria agavoides, a few Sempervivums (alpine succulents, tricky in our climate--easiest right along the coast):
 2011: 
 2011:
 2011:
 2011:
 The big difference I see in the foreground is the use of stone to create frames for the plants.  It likely makes maintenance a whole lot easier, and requires a few less plants.   There is also more of the same plant rather than a huge variety of different plants.    Graptopetalums, which have dormancy the opposite of Echeverias, and somewhat fussy Echeverias are gone, replaced by more maintainable species. 
 2017: 

 
  2017: In front of the Agave ovatifolia, just to the right of the above.  There are some small areas of colored glass as mulch. The glass colors look unnatural when juxtaposed with the natural stone and plants. 

2017:

 In front of the crowded Aloe plicatilis...red and blue glass there...jarring with the plants and the subdued natural color of the stone.  There's plenty of color and texture as it is.  
2017:

 Below and to the left a bit of the Furcraea, a sea of glaucous Echeverias and cool sandstone rocks
2017:
2017:
I miss the 'Stained Glass' Agave, but there isn't room for it with the Furcraea grown that large.  Still, it was such a beauty.  
2011:
 Still, years later, the bed is a fascinating, over-the-top, tour-de-force of succulent planting.   

Comments

  1. I agree with you about the glass mulch and the glass ornaments. It makes the bed way too busy. There's already more than enough to ogle. Thanks for giving us an updated look at this bed. I'd love to find PNW alternatives to these plants, so I could do something similar.

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    1. Sempervivums, sedums...the equivalent in your climate is really alpines, yes? The dainty Saxifrages us SoCal people can only dream about. Those fine crevice gardens seen on several PNW blogs...it can be done. :)

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  2. hello Hoover Boo,
    It's so amazing to see this garden. No garden in Holland will be the one you are showing. A lot of succulent's overhere are growing inside the house in a small pot on the windowsill. Thank you for sharing so much beauty to see.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. The world of gardens is one of amazing variety, isn't it? We here love the Holland fields of tulips that are so magic, but here wilt and fall apart in a day. Thank you, Marijke and have a beautiful day, hopefully in the garden.

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  3. Wow, the beds have changed a lot, as your photos illustrate beautifully. It's great to see the 2011-2017 comparison. This is about as theatrical a display of succulents as any I've ever seen. I remember tripping across your 2011 photos of these succulent beds in the Google images files years ago and I'm certain I can expect to see your latest photos pop up all over too.

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    1. That is the right word, you nailed it: theatrical. For a small botanical garden, appropriate: every square foot counts in a small space.

      Photos do get around, don't they. Saw one of my rose photos on the Chinese Ebay equivalent, sigh.

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  4. Great pictures! The only thing I'm frowning at is the new A. ovatifolia that replaced the A. americana - it looks too squat? I dunno... The whole thing is gorgeous and makes me wish succulents liked the desert more. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes ovatifolia presents a different shape. Perhaps why it is raised up quite a bit higher than the americana was. You point out what a lot of people don't realize: the desert is too hot for many succulents! Habitat photos of Echeverias show them under trees, in rock crevices, in long grass where they get considerable shade, Agaves at higher altitudes in open oak and pine forest.

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  5. There's so much colour and vibrancy going on there already, no need for the glass indeed! Great to see how it has evolved, and see how much some of the original plants have grown so well like the aloe dichotoma.

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    1. Considering how this is a quarter mile or so from the Pacific, that the Aloe dichotoma is growing so well with so little heat is impressive! Mine rotted, sigh. :( Maybe it's time to try again.

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  6. Thank you for your service in documenting the progress, and the necessary changes. The material may be heaven on earth for the low-water, low-fertility set, but this precarious jewelbox school o' landscape is not no-maintenance, nor really sustainable beyond the life of a typical cottage faerie-garden (so, a season or two greater than a bed used for annual 'color'). I do wonder how kitsch all of this will appear to the next generation. My next question is what they're doing with all that green waste: succulents can be hard on compost piles, so perhaps they're rooting them out, leaf by leaf, and selling them on.

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    1. I'm glad I compared the 2011 and 2017 versions--in the planting bed I see a lot more solitary and non-fussy Echeveria species now. Less maintenance that way. I have no doubt whatever whole plants are removed are reused somewhere.

      Agree with you wholeheartedly very vigorous succulents are a green waste problem. Green waste problem, thy name is Senecio mandraliscae! The stuff grows like Kudzu and is as heavy as concrete.

      As Kris P found the right word: "theatrical"--I think there is room for that here and there in a garden. Put it in context: a little over-the-topness here and there in the garden...the environmental damage of that is nothing compared to my neighbor's hydrocarbon spewing vintage Corvette, the fumes of which invade our whole street as he struggles to get it started, then lets it run for 10 minutes before leaving. Yeccchh. I retreat indoors.

      Dear Saurs, will the next few generations even be able to garden? Our lives in a SFR with a garden may be but a dream, as they sit in their 300 sq ft apartments in endless blocks of concrete.

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    2. The balconies in those concrete blocks could easily handle hypertufa troughs of succulents, though, eh? For which the jewelbox style seems well suited.

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    3. like the urban forest in Milan. A forest it isn't. But it is green.

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  7. I hate to be a grouch but am not a fan of the glass either. But I assume it thrills visitors, so there's that consideration.

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    1. There was that one grouping of lavender/purple glass objects with the lavender/purple/mauve/burgundy flowers that was just perfect...and the yellow/green globe with some grey/blue succulents I thought worked very well. So some of them worked, I thought. The yellow-orange range of color. Glass artists might benefit from spending time with plants when making garden glass?

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  8. Fabulous! I do hope to see this in person someday, and hopefully those ridiculous glass "art" pieces will be gone by then.

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    1. Just a temporary installation for the next few months. There were a couple pieces that worked really well with the surrounding plants--I'll have to post those.

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  9. Thanks so much for this posting as you are the reason I started a succulent garden 2 years ago. I have learned that here in No. Cal, succulents don't really like TOTAL sun. They burn. They do much better in shade and less hot areas that also get regular water..esp my Kiwi Aeonium. Right now, I have a sea of yellow blooms ready to burst open on long stems of some kind of "spruce" succulent. I hope it will be stunning as they are taking forever to bloom...if not, I want to replace and add some of the stones to make maintenance easier. I have gazania in the center of the box which adds brilliant contrast in sunlight hours, but I want more of the always contrast as shown in your blog posting so thanks again for more inspiration.

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    1. I hope it's been fun for you! There is so much to learn in gardening--it's an adventure in self-education. Some succulents do like a surprising amount of water--and shade.

      Happy gardening, Candyce!

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  10. I think you're right about the busy-ness of some of it, especially the glass mulch. Glass like most garden design was done poorly where I moved from, but here it doesn't exist. To me that's a small bed and the swirling succulent patterns are amazing to look at if one could sit there for a while.

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    1. It's a big planting bed for a very expensive beach town! Location, location. And it is amazing to sit and stare at.

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  11. The glass "ornaments" are awful in this setting.

    The blue glass mulch likewise; the thin seam of red glass actually works for me (may be the echo with a nearby bromeliad, or just the skinny-ness of the seam).

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    1. The red is somewhat muted so it does work better than the bright blue. The yellow glass sculpture works best I think, there is some yellow in the Bromilead nearby that has some relationship to the yellow glass. I wonder if just yellow would have been better. I did another post for a few days from now that will have pictures of other glass pieces in the garden that work better. Be interesting what others think of those.

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  12. This garden, in both the older and newer shots, is a masterpiece. The designer has such a great vision and the patience -- and care -- to carry it out, a real artist and great horticulturalist. The plants he grows are so perfect. This bed is a one-of-a-kind succulent showcase for the many visitors who come each day. Thank you so much for these glorious photos.

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    1. Glad you liked the photos! The amount of knowledge and care it takes to produce something like that is considerable, it's like a painting done with plants.

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  13. This a fantastic then-and-now comparison. While plants have changed, the basic design concept is still the same (and still brilliant, in my opinion).

    I agree with virtually everybody on the (glass) ornaments. Get rid of them and let the plants shine. More and is not always more.

    I may be making a garden exploration trip to Southern California this winter (instead of Arizona). If so, this garden will be near the top of my list.

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    1. I've been looking and looking at the photos--it's become more restrained in foliage color, got rid of the Perle Von Nuremberg and the very pink Graptopetalums. Those two are also fussier growers. The evolution is interesting.

      Let us know if you decide to come this way! The Newport Beach Civic Center is a one minute drive from the Sherman and has a jaw-dropping succulent garden, so that should be on the list, too.

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  14. Art mimicking nature.... I feel that it is the question of artists or those selling art having a great backdrop and access to potential customers. It may get people appreciating nature's wonderful forms....

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    1. More gardeners will make the world a little better, and if some artists are inspired to garden, garden art will improve. :)

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