Arid - succulent garden
Arid-Succulent Garden designed and implemented in Fowey. Garden was designed by selecting UK hardy specimen succulents, adding sand and planting on a slope. Natural arid conditions were replicated with rocks as added ground cover. Flowering accents were also added to the scheme with a large focal point in the from of an Agave franzosinii. Feature plants include UK hardy (and edible!) cactus; Opuntia humifusa and stunning Aloe polyphylla.
Fowey in Bloom 2019 winner!
The design is inspired by Cornish gardens such as; St Michael's Mount and the Mediterranean garden at the Eden Project as well as natural arid biomes. I wanted to create something that would compliment the Sub-Tropical Paradise Garden to the left and appreciate the sloped nature of the area. An exotic mini paradise theme was already developing in the garden with some contemporary landscaping and building. I decided to design a succulent garden - by selecting UK hardy succulents to create a bold and eye catching panting scheme.
Below: Agave franzosinii note the contrast from red spines and blue/grey leaves.
Arid micro-climate in Cornwall?
A micro-climate was created by adding sand to the originally clay substrate, the sandy soil is more suitable for succulents as it drains well. The bed itself is sloped and this was retained when the plants were planted, this further reduces water retention as rain water is encouraged to drain off. In addition rocks were added as groundcover which covered the surface of the soil, further reducing water retention and reducing weeds. The rocks provide an additional function by absorbing heat from the sun and releasing it throughout the day (like a night storage heater.) This contributes to the dry(for cornwall) and warm micro-climate created for this design.
A Photoshop elevation was created to give insight into the composition and to help the designer select plants, quantities and positions. (see below)
Above: Photoshop elevation created during the design process.
Growing a Cornish Cactus?
Opuntia humifusa is a cold hardy edible cactus native to eastern parts of North America, such as Montana. It's is a 'Prickly Pair' and produces edible fruits as well as having edible pads. It is surprisingly cold tolerant and puts up with severe winters in alpine environments in its native habitat. Shade tolerant and producing flowers in spring. A great conversation starter for a well drained garden.
The brief was to design and create new planting for the bed on the left. The area is sloped and is adjacent to the Sub-Tropical Paradise Garden. The planted needed to be contextually appropriate and to compliment new exotic planting on the left.
-South-East facing, the site contains both full sun and partial shade areas.
-Soil PH was 7.5 and was clay. (Sand was added)
-Set in Fowey, the site is semi coastal, adjacent to the estuary near the South coast.
The primary role of the selected plants is to provide an exotic, tropical appearance whilst replicating natural Arid conditions. Some implemented plants are recommended by the RHS as; succulents for a Uk climate” Such as; Aloe striatula and Agave montana. Other plants featured were selected to provide contrasting forms and colours such as the blue/grey of Agave franzosinii and lime green of Aloe polyphylla. The plants selected contain a range of textures and forms. Plants such as; Aloe polyphylla, Opuntia humifusa and Agave franzosinii were selected for their bold striking aesthetics, Opuntia humifusa is a cold hardy cactus, which is conversation starter in its own right.
Plants are arranged fairly uninformed with Agave franzosinii used as a focal point. Lampranthus orange provides groundcover and orange flowers to compliment the blue green of Agave parryi .
Summer colour is provided in flowers from Aloe striatula and Opuntia humifusa whereas bold spring interest is provided with Echium pininana.
The plants provided can essentially be left alone after planting, reducing required maintenance whilst adding to the wild, arid, appearance of the scheme. The vast majority of the plants selected are evergreen to retain interest throughout the year.
Rocks were added as a ground cover to suppress weeds but also for aesthetics. In addition the rocks retain heat during the summer and reduce water absorption creating a micr0-climate.
The site is SE facing and has sandy substrate with a PH of 7.5, is exposed and vulnerable to coastal winds, plants have been selected to be tolerant of these conditions. The designer has also chosen species he has seen first-hand thriving in Cornish gardens (and some I have never seen in any garden.)
Above: Completed planting plan for the garden
Below: Opuntia humifusa flowers,foliage and fruits
"We have known Zac for 2 years. He is our gardener & garden designer at our property in Fowey.
Along with the weekly maintenance of our garden, Zac single handily designed very specific and different planting plans for 2 of our large flower beds. He was also responsible for implementing his design plans, both in terms of ordering the plants and subsequent planting. We have been delighted with the results.
Zac always pays careful attention to what he does. His design specifications are very thorough and thoughtful. Zac is very conscientious and honest, always checking that we are happy with his work and coming up with suggestions. He works very tidily, he turns up when he says he will and invoices precisely. We have found him to be extremely trustworthy.
Zac has spent the past year successfully building up his own business “Gardens of Eden”. We have recommended Zac several times and would not hesitate to recommend Zac again either as a garden designer or for general garden maintenance work."
Celia & Julian Allbut