Garden Photo of the Day

Pam’s obsession with succulents in her California garden

Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Pam Wittenberg

Today’s photos are from Pam Wittenberg in Santa Rosa, California. We’ve visited with Pam many times (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and especially HERE), but we haven’t seen anything from her in a while!

She says, “I don’t see many pics of succulents on the GPOD posts, so I thought I’d share some of mine. For many, they are an acquired taste, and I am no exception.

“My Mom has always been a huge fan of all succulents, and she got me started with them about 10 years ago. 98% of the succulents in my garden are from cuttings she gave me. The other 2% are cast-offs from other gardens, or nursery finds that I just can’t resist. Now I can’t get enough of them. After all, what is more perfect than a plant you can just break off and stick in the ground and ignore? Or a plant that drops a leaf and creates a whole new plant at the base of the fallen leaf?

“I used to have more variety, but even in my zone 9b garden, the winter lows in the 20s are enough to turn many varieties to mush, so I count on the ones I know can survive the “harsh” California winters!”

Oh, Pam, I am sooooo playing a tiny violin for you over those harsh winters….kidding!! Your succulents are beautiful! I LOVE the planter with the obelisk (sorry, that should be ARMILLARY) in the middle, especially. Thanks so much for sharing, and don’t be such a stranger!

**** The push is still on–get outside and take some last minute shots, or compile a few you took earlier in the season. I’ll be eternally grateful…. Email them to [email protected]. Thanks! ****

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  1. user-1020932 10/22/2013

    i love seeing California gardens full of all those plants i can only grow as houseplants. i would die of Sheila Schultzitis if i lived there i'm sure. bittersweet post as we are getting our first freeze tomorrow night so today is deciding what to compost and what to save in the succulent collection. great plants, Pam. wish i could send some Aloes to you!

  2. dirtgirl1949 10/22/2013

    Thank you Pam for sharing your wonderful pics of succulents. What a gorgeous selection! I too am a succulent fan, purely by accident! I realised how suited they were to our harsh, dry, hot climate here in Australia and like any addiction, it starts small and builds up!
    Always someone to obtain another cutting from and you can basically guarantee they will strike and survive, while other plants fail miserably when temps start to hit over the 100F mark.
    Such a joy to see someone else has a genuine love for them, as for too long they have been treated as the poor relative, yet are such rewarding plants. Keep those pics coming Pam.

  3. tractor1 10/22/2013

    Goodness, that second photo down on the left looks like an orgy of salacious succulents... go know there'd be so many in attendance, all multiplying before our very eyes! Thank you, Pam.

  4. gloriaj 10/22/2013

    Pam I am so glad you submitted your succulents collection. Right I am reading a book called Succulents Simpflied by Debra Lee Baldwin, so to see your collections ties in with what I am reading. I too accidentally started with succulents because a small area in my garden had a small piece of a succulent from a pot fell on the ground and took off with out any help from me . Love the colors and texture of succulents. Do you have anymore for us to see.

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/22/2013

    I definitely have succulent envy. Although there are plenty of cold-hardy succulents, I still wish I could have those camellia blossum-shaped echeveria outdoors - especially after having spent the lion's share of this weekend bring in annuals and tender perennials! So glad winter is coming for a break from gardening!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/22/2013

    Ouch, Pam, your pictures just gave me a jab of succulent envy...I'm a huge fan even though I can't grow them here in TN like you do. How delightful that your collection is mostly a family affair with so many starts from your mother. I follow a couple of succulent blogs and sometimes they feature pictures from your CA festivals celebrating this wonderful plant form. Oh, my, the creativity displayed by the attendees is amazing. I have a whole pinterest board devoted to succulents and am going to "steal" a couple of your photos to add to it. Thanks!

  7. annek 10/22/2013

    Mmmmm, succulents.....even the name sounds scrumptious. I agree with tractor1, that second photo on the left is a wonderful profusion of varieties. Since they're so easy to propagate, do you spend much time removing volunteers?

  8. mainer59 10/22/2013

    Pam- Yours are lovely, to be sure. I see many are containerized, and northeners could do that if they had the indoor space for winter storage. However, there are plenty that grow in the colder zones. A nursery near me has gotten many of us around here into planting them in cracks in rocks.

  9. User avater
    HelloFromMD 10/22/2013

    Hi Pam, I love the composition of the circular planter in the whiskey barrel with the obelisk. All of the circles in the containers and obelisk reflect the structure of the succulents making a lovely composition. Composition is when gardening becomes art.

  10. marmacy 10/22/2013

    the orb with an arrow is called armillary, not obelisk...just sayin

  11. GrannyMay 10/22/2013

    Beautiful succulents Pam! How lovely to see so many showcased in one garden. Your collection reminds me that they can make a statement without help from other plants.

    We who live in cooler areas cannot overwinter that many varieties, so are jealous. However, we too have some that are easy-care, like sedums and sempervivums, if put into the appropriate sites.

  12. sheila_schultz 10/22/2013

    Pam, I understand your succulent addiction. Once you get started with with these beauties, stopping is not an option! I love that your Mom got you hooked, I've done the same to my daughter. You are so lucky to be able to keep them outside year round... trust me ;)
    Your Echeveria's really are beautiful and very happy. I'm drooling, there are so many dreamy varieties. I have to keep the few I grow in the shade outside since our Denver sun is so intense they sunburn, then when they come inside for the long winter, they bolt. Not a good look.
    Do you ever go to any of the incredible succulent nurseries scattered throughout CA, or to any of the succulent/cactus shows?
    Gloriaj mentioned Debra Lee Baldwin's book. For anyone interested in succulents, she's the succulent guru and has 3 books full of great info. And Meander1 mentioned succulent blogs...there are some very cool blogs out there that are filled with awesome photos and useful info.
    By the way, I love your combo pot with the aloe, purple oxalis, nasturtium + sedum. It's really excellent. Mixing it up is always so much fun.
    Okay, I'm heading out to the clinic now, succulent fever has hit me full force.

  13. MichelleGervais 10/22/2013

    Doh! Marmacy, you're right. Thanks for the correction.

  14. PamWittenberg 10/22/2013

    Yes, aren't the succulents amazing? My Mom had an enclosed patio in Marin County and grew all sorts of rare South African varieties, but I believe nearly all of those may have perished over the years (yes, those "harsh" California winters again). She still has an amazing variety of succulents in her newer garden that I routinely poach, and I don't think she's ever met a plant that she doesn't like.

    Mom's blog shows all the ancestors of my succulents as well as lots of other shots from her garden as well as her vintage tableware and tablescapes. You can easily get lost here for the better part of a day looking at all the pretties...

    BTW, the "whiskey barrel" is in fact an original 1970s redwood hot tub that was repurposed by the people who remodeled the house before we moved in. I shudder to think what will happen if it ever rots out at the bottom...

  15. cwheat000 10/22/2013

    What a fun collection! Succulents have such great textures.

  16. Mwmiller 10/22/2013

    Lovely! I'm learning to create hypertufa pots for the sole purpose of "housing" my growing collection of succulents. More photos, please, Pam!

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