by Dave Waltzer
I believe that there is more to a nice garden than just an assortment of pretty flowers. Contour, color, shape, and texture are all important components to gardens as well.
Succulents fit that bill quite nicely. Their foliage provides a splash of color wherever they are placed and they also provide a wide variety of textures and shapes. Many succulents have rather unusual, even bizarre forms and can add that little extra bit of pizzazz to your garden.
What is a succulent? To be brief, succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, and can survive for an extended period of time without being watered. All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.
Succulents stand up very well in hot, windy areas and also hold up to a great deal of neglect. For almost twenty years I have been landscaping houses along the seashore just south of Moss landing. One of the problems I have encountered there over the years is that the wind and the salt air acts as a desiccant, drying out the leaves of many plants and causing them to wilt and die. (That “windswept” look that one sees on Monterey cypress is actually the result of that windy salt air killing all the needles on the windward side of the tree.) Over the years of working along the coast I have observed that succulents have thrived and flourished in spots where even the hardiest plants have languished. This can be attributed to succulents’ fleshy, thick leaves, which resist the travails of heat, wind and salt air.
Succulents are very low maintenance. Once established, they need little watering and there is almost no trimming or pruning that needs to be done, except for cutting off the spent flower stalks.