There are few plants better suited for a spectacular, long lasting, ever tidy-looking container planting than Cotyledon orbiculata. This beauty is from South Africa and as with most succulents best suited for mild climates. C. orbiculata will form a tidy mound of fat opposing leaves. Ultimately the plant will get about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, softly drooping over it’s container. The long lasting summer flowers will float above it in a coral and yellow display. So pretty!
Okay, I’ll admit it…sometimes when I’m designing a garden I’ll have in mind the perfect plant for the perfect spot. In fact, I’ll get so fixated that I’ll want to fudge a little on what I know that plant wants in terms of water, sun, space, etc…. There are so many ways to fudge, I’m afraid. Fortunately, I usually do snap myself back into reality and quickly get “unwedded” to my choice if it’s just not working. Thomas Hobbs calls this condition “Zonal Denial.” I love that! Pretty much anyone who has planted a citrus tree in shade or a Hydrangea in full blasting sun has fallen prey to Zonal Denial. We’ve all done it and it’s okay – after all it’s only human to want to grow something even if we don’t have the right spot for it.
I thought I’d share this photo of my California Native front yard to illustrate why we should generally listen to those experts of Sunset Western Garden Book and all those other great references. This garden went in about 4 months ago. That’s a buffalo grass lawn (not native, but very low water using) and behind it are little fluffy mounds of Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’. Artemisia is a sagebrush and it appreciates the sun. Due to my roof line the plants to the left get at least an hour or more of hot afternoon sun (this photo was taken at 2:30pm, late September). With each plant getting incrementally bigger as you look to the left, you can see the undeniable effects of the sun. Now I have a visual reminder right out my front door whispering “right plant in the right place.”