That red echeveria really did glow like it was plugged into a light socket. It was at the fourth annual Succulent Extravaganza, which took place at Succulent Gardens nursery near Santa Cruz, Sept. 26-27, 2014. “Attendance was up about 65 percent—approximately 2,000 visitors over two days,” nursery owner Robin Stockwell told me.
Below: My GGW co-blogger Saxon Holt gave a tour of the display gardens and explained how a professional photographer might shoot them.Kathy Brenzel, garden editor of Sunset magazine, was the keynote speaker. . I videorecorded her presentation, which I hope to post on YouTube—check my website’s page. Kathy gave a 30-year perspective on succulents, from drought-tolerant in-ground plantings to wall displays (which Succulent Gardens is famous for). She had gone through past issues of Sunset and made posters of articles, which she held up and talked about.One of my presentations featured designs by members of the Succulent Fanatics Facebook group, which now has over 10,000 members.The display gardens reminded me of San Francisco Flower & Garden Show exhibits. During the event, Robin led tours of the gardens, and interviewed designers about their concepts, who also were available to talk to prospective clients. Each display will stay put, so if visitors want to see them as they grow and fill in, they can. One much talked-about highlight of the show was this stacked flagstone bench that designer Andrea Hurd had carved with a buzz saw.Organic Mechanics’ display incorporates repurposed materials, including marble that’s a byproduct of the headstone industry.Michael and Danielle Romero of CA Cactus Center in Pasadena drove north to create this undersea-themed garden, using Robin’s plants and a few of their own.This also featured repurposed materials:This ocean wave entirely of succulents is by Santa Cruz landscape designer Steven Sutherland, who does a lot of commercial installations.
This “living mandala” is by Kristin Scheidt. The nursery now offers about a dozen topdressings for sale by the pound, in bins.I love the industrial chic of this—how the corrugated aluminum wall is transformed into a contemporary backdrop for a rusty metal sculpture—and the way the propeller plant (Crassula falcata) repeats the color and shape of the silver metal. Design by Julia Bell and Rebecca Sweet.A few really cool plants I hadn’t seen before:Blue Echeveria setosaA thick-leaved Echeveria hybrid, probably a subrigida cross:A blue, warty, tubular-leaved echeveria:An echeveria that looks like ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ except it has white edges.I had seen a variegated Agave ‘Blue Glow’ only once before, in hybridizer Kelly Griffin’s garden.I have no idea what these are, but wouldn’t you agree they’re pretty cool?