Other people's gardens

Necessity and invention etc.

I get to play in my parents’ garden as well as my own. Mum and Dad live on the South Coast of NSW, surrounded by remnant rainforest and stunning views of the ocean. Consequently there is zero incentive to hop in the car and fight the highway to a garden centre and possible pot and plant purchases. So when the tired pots on the outdoor table needed replacing, the solution had to be found on the hill.

Just the week before I’d picked up The Plant Recipe Book on the shelf of new books at my local library. The ‘recipes’ are for living centrepieces designed by San Francisco garden designer/floral stylist, Baylor Chapman of Lila B. The company designs small-space gardens and is involved in all kinds of botanical styling, but for me the real appeal are the beautifully styled centrepieces of plants, not cut flowers, that they do for events and weddings. Have a look at a few things here.

Inspired by Baylor we went hunting for a lump of wood, and found a gnarly slice of redgum drying out up in the top shed. Dad sacrificed a few drill bits hollowing out its middle while I snipped bits and pieces from around the garden. I found some tiny unnamed sedums, the ever-reliable Sedum ‘Gold Mound’, some rosettes of echeveria, a fresh bromeliad pup, and one of a silver tillandsia, plus a rooted bit of the purple and silver variegated tradescantia. I tossed together a free-draining medium from bark mulch, gravel, compost and a sandy soil mix and fitted the plants into the space, along with a few shells collected by various grandchildren.

Succulents in wooden trough

Mum is chief carer, watering often, but lightly, using a water spray bottle as there are no drainage holes in our lump of redgum. A few weeks later Dad sent this proof of ongoing success, with everything looking sprightly.

Succulents in wooden trough

And then just last week, he also sent this:


A new lump of redgum, with a great lava-down-the-mountainside look, photographed with the original for purposes of scale. Perfect timing: I’ve just been to The Succulent Garden nursery in Glenorie and picked up some little treasures, (more on that next week).
Once I have them in my redgum lump I’ll update this post with a fresh pic.


3 thoughts on “Necessity and invention etc.

  1. This is gorgeous! I want to steal your idea of course. I particularly like the use of ‘tradescantia’. To some people it’s nothing more than a weed, but I think there’s something quite lovely about it. I plonked a few stems of it in a vase with two branches of ‘cows udders’ (don’t know the botanical name). It looks fab.

    • Robin Powell says:

      Glad you liked it Ambra. Cow’s udder is a weird-looking thing! It’s Solanum mammosum, part of the potato family, and deeply poisonous (as were potatoes were before centuries of hybridisation.) Do you grow it to use for cut flowers?

  2. Pingback: Succulents for Sydney | Robin Powell

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