Today's Pensive Tuesday is part gardening meditation and part book review. The book I'm really enjoying right now is "Succulent Container Gardens" by Debra Lee Baldwin (2010).
Ms. Baldwin has designed some of the most eye-catching, unusual succulent displays I've ever seen. Some of the trends she writes about got me thinking about Garden Fashion. This author clearly knows succulents and cares about the health of her garden. But there are trends in gardening that definitely put beauty before health.
For example, check out these two pots of mesembs:
The top pot is arguably more interesting and beautiful from an aesthetic point of view. But if Lithops were substituted for those Argyrodermas, there would be trouble. Argyrodermas grow so slowly that the tight packing and large river rocks might not bother them too much in the short term. But folks reading the book might only have access to other mesembs that need more space. Lithops particularly need space and air to releaf without rotting. So some of these projects are a bit, "Don't try this at home," you know? You need a lot of detailed knowledge of a species to know what you can get away with in decorating. Nobody wants the succulent equivalent of foot binding!
So how to be aesthetically amazing while keeping your plants in top shape? Baldwin gives an example of how to balance beauty and health when it comes to a wall full of agaves. This is just gorgeous.
Each plant has its own light and air, its own pot and soil, and can be watered and cared for with relative ease. And it's a dazzling display that highlights the beauty of the plant and the garden.
Ironically, if you go back to the cover of the book, you'll see one trend that has me dismayed--cramming lots of different species tightly into one large pot. This is part of the "disposable garden" trend so common to big box nurseries. The idea is, well, of course it's not healthy for the plants and they'll soon rot, but hey, just throw it out and get a new one. I see people buying these almost every time I shop at one of the home improvement stores. Kind of like those orchids meant to be thrown away after they bloom. I can't condone this practice. What do you think of "disposable gardening"? Fortunately, the book has relatively little of that sort of thing. Most of the displays shown are built to be long-term.
Overall, I highly recommend taking a look through the book. You'll most certainly ooh and aah over some of the imaginative and beautiful display ideas for our favorite plants. And you'll have some ideas of your own, for sure! As for me, I'll temper my aesthetic gardening ideas with some serious thought for the health and longevity of the plants.