My Idea of Succulents


You’ve heard me talk, in the past, about a “regional sense of place.” In fact, some of my most controversial posts have been about not making all our gardens look like everybody else’s gardens.

After all, isn’t this what we complain about when we travel? When we fly–or drive–all our “places” look the same. We can drive from one city to the next–or even one suburb–and eat in the same chains and shop in the same stores we have back home and never really leave our comfort zones.

If those of us in the temperate zones (and I am using that term loosely–I mean roughly zones 4-7 or perhaps zones 5-7 or 5-8) all start planting the same plants and using the same sorts of garden decorations, every place will look like every other place.

Certain things are very regional: I am referring to bottle trees in the south for example, lobster pots in coastal New England–those two examples immediately come to mind. If we start plunking them down anywhere and everywhere, they lose their “regional” association.

I feel the same way about plants. While I am not such a plant “snob” to suggest that I can’t grow imported plants because I am not in Japan, the Himalayas or China, or, with respect to natives, not living on the prairies, say, there is a bit of a limit.

Certain things like cone flowers and black eyed susans might look at home in my garden because they pretty much look at home anywhere. Breeders have pretty much assured that. They’re not prairie plants now so much as cottage garden plants, or wildflowers.

But succulents? As I said once on this blog, I don’t live in Arizona. There’s nothing “desert-like” about my property, even in a drought. Not with my heavy clay. So for me, I think they look terribly out of place. That’s why you’ll find them in pots, on my porch, as in the photo, above.

In fact, those gold-sword yuccas that everyone seems to plant here in Connecticut look out of place to me. Their foliage does NOT particularly hold up well in the winter. Yes, it holds up better than perhaps an ornamental grass might–but just barely. It still looks ratty. Just plant an evergreen. There are hundreds to choose from–and no, while they’re not native, they do look more natural to our landscape than some desert plant.

But that’s just me, and as I have said lots of time here, if we all liked the same thing, we’d have a very boring world. Still, you’re not going to find any yuccas on my property any time soon!