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Succulent Garden Sculpture

This elegant dancer at the Quail Botanical Garden in Encinitas, California is made entirely of succulent plants mounted in moss, on a wire frame. Nearby is a mariachi band covered in variegated ivy and several other dancers, whose hats, boots, and vest are made of copper. I love artwork in the garden and what could be more wonderful for avid gardeners than artworks made of plants!

The first thing I think of when I see something like this is the amount of work involved to create and maintain it. Every plant was perfect, even in the wilting 100+ degree temperature. It took a moment for the beauty of it all to sink in.
Succulents won't work outdoors year-round in places where winter temperatures dip below freezing, but hardy succulents would provide a short-season visual extravaganza. Ivy, or other hardy vines, such as variegated Vinca major would also do the trick, although not with the same stunning effect. Think about using climbing roses or Clematis, too.

The sculpture needs to be in proportion to the space it occupies in the garden and the time available to snip, clip, and train the plants during the first few growing seasons. For those who are art-challenged, smaller-scale versions could be created using the wire forms sold in florists and home decorating stores, or even plant tuteurs, as a base. That way, you could still use the succulents and overwinter them in the house.

Let your imagination run wild.

For more on growing and using succulents, see

 Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants

Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for Every Climate 


healingmagichands said...

That dancer is really something! I never would have thought of doing something like that at all, and yet it is so perfect for the space. I wouldn't mind having a dress that color. . .

Drought Smart Plants said...

Isn't it amazing how the textures and colours all go together so well? There are no bad choices when it comes to succulent plants!

Caroline said...

I love the textures and colors and dappled light in this shot. Good luck in the GGW photo contest!

gardening said...

WOW! That is amazing! It's so incredible the kind of beautiful art you can create in a garden. Love the blog, keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

What type of moss is recommended to use in the wire frames? Thanks

Lois J. de Vries said...

While I didn't ask about the moss used on this particular piece, sphagnum moss is often advised. It is used for growing tree-dwelling orchids as well, and may be displayed in a garden center with other orchid-growing media. Depending upon where you live, another means of anchoring the succulents may be more appropriate, so ask at your local garden center.

The main point is that succulents can't survive in ordinary garden soil, but must have quick or "sharp" drainage.

Sphagnum moss is mined from peat bogs and is not easily replenished. One way to work around this problem is to select succulents that draw moisture primarily from the air (so-called air plants) or to anchor the plants with loop fasteners, floral tape, etc. Check out one of the many good books on succulents for more details.