There’s a new showcase at Succulent Gardens: a display bed along Amaral Road where we’ve planted a few dozen examples of large, mature plants.
It’s a mix of tree aloes and agaves, with each plant given enough space that you can see how far its branches spread and take in its full form without other plants crowding into view.
The tree aloes benefit from this arrangement most. Seven Aloe bainesii are gathered into one section of the new bed, for example. The tallest of them, topped with a bushy head of rubbery green blade-like leaves, is seven feet.
It and each of the other was given enough space to show off the full spread of its branches; a couple of them reach nearly six feet wide.
It’s not only about size. We also wanted to highlight the sculptural forms of these plants, something that can be overlooked when plants are packed together more densely.
Take the five specimens of Aloe speciosa that share another section of the bed. Two are growing in clumping form, another two have been trained to show rigidly erect trunks, and in the middle of the group we’ve placed a speciosa with a thick, curved trunk that supports a huge circular burst of foliage that looks like a lion’s mane.
You’ll spot another animal form nearby: the fluidly curved tentacles of a squid. The trio of Agave bracteosa in the bed were selected from our stock for the ‘squiddiness’ of their shape. Agave bracteosa is known both as the squid agave and the candelabra agave. Both describe its look well, but that second one is more accurate in a way, because the plant has many more than eight arms.
There are a few more agave and aloe species represented in this display bed, which runs for about 80 feet along Amaral Road on the way from the entrance to our main, west parking lot to our secondary, east parking lot. The plants we put here are backed up by our inventory of many more individuals in each species, all available for sale.
There is a common misconception that succulents don’t need water, or need very little. While there is some truth in the “need very little” part, the truth is that succulents like water, and they like to be watered deeply.