Today’s photos are from Joyce Laubach.
I am a Florida Master Gardener, gardening at my own home and as an active community volunteer in Punta Gorda, located on the Gulf Coast in southwestern Florida. My last submission to the GPOD (Planting a Public Garden in Florida) described the creation of a succulent bed in our city’s Nature Park, where the succulents joined over 20 themed garden beds designed to delight visitors and inspire creation of Florida Friendly landscapes.
Encouraged by positive feedback, we decided to create a succulent space in the Punta Gorda History Park, where several historic homes have been relocated within the park setting. The park garden beds had already been significantly updated with an array of colorful plantings that are refreshed every winter thanks to the generosity of benefactor Alan Schulman and with the assistance of dozens of talented volunteer gardeners. The park is visited daily by people young and old who walk, garden in the community garden space, and attend the weekly farmers market.
I thought GPOD readers would appreciate seeing the step-by-step process by which the latest succulent creation took shape. Because of the wonderful drought tolerance of these tough plants, we were able to locate them in a section of the park without irrigation. To give this relatively small space a real presence, we knew we wanted to create tiered height.
We started with these large, sturdy sump pump barrels.
Volunteer John Iredale used power tools to cut the barrels into slices of various heights.
John, Alan, and I designed the arrangement.
The next step was to make sure the barrel surfaces blended in and looked like planters. First, we painted them with glue.
Then we literally threw sand against the surfaces to create texture. Our final step was to spray-paint them after the glued sand had set.
We then reassembled the circles on the ground and filled them with a custom mix of garden soil, perlite, and pea gravel—the type of well-draining substrate that succulents need.
The fun part for me was seeing this bare design come to life with a fairly wide variety of succulents. Plants include desert rose (Adenium obesum), Agave ‘Ivory Curls’, Agave lopanthe ‘Quadricolor’, Agave ‘Blue Glow’, Mangave ‘Indian Princess’, Kalanchoe luciae, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, Echeveria ‘Afterglow’, Echeveria ‘Autumn Glow’, an unidentified ruffled Echeveria hybrid, Senecio mandraliscae, various Aloe hybrids, Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’, Sedum ‘Angelina’, Sedum ‘California Sunset’, and Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’. Around the outside is vining Carpobrotus.
Over the course of about five months, the plants have matured and knitted together. The planter space is accented by a ring of native coral stone and top-dressed with several types of decorative gravel. Even though our rainy season has begun, the good drainage has allowed our plants to continue to thrive, to the point that we have begun a new outer ring of plantings that will eventually grow taller and accent the perimeter of the inner original design.
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