NEWSFLASH! Succulents are OUT!!!
Gardeners may think they are earthy, practical people – immune to the vagaries of fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fashion pervades gardening – plants go in and out of fashion just like red bottom Louboutins.
BUT HOLD THE PHONE – surely the garden world isn’t over their love affair with succulents, are they?
I have some clues to share that may indicate that some people who live in succulent appropriate climates are OVER those lovely, fleshy-leaved powerhouses of texture and form.
* One of my favorite local nurseries has reduced its formerly large succulent section to make room for plants with a higher demand (which happen to be NATIVES).
* At 4 (count them, FOUR) client meetings recently I have shown images of succulents to be met with almost open hostility. One of the couples even called succulents “Old Lady Plants”. I was beside myself with horror.
* I am ashamed to admit it, but … yes… I kind of understand. My eyes are growing a little weary of them. Too many different colors in one container, too much punch in one area of a garden, color without restraint – these things are typical when using succulents. While I take exception to them being called “OLD Lady Plants”, maybe I understand them being referred to as “KOOKY Lady Plants”. Nothing wrong with a kook – I guess they have just fallen from the pinnacles of fashion.
I always described myself as a maximalist, loving colors smashing wildly together in designs, dramatic shapes creating prehistoric, jagged silhouettes – but now, I am starting to want something else. I want some restraint, some elegance. Maybe the sweeps of meadow and scrub I’ve been working with lately are getting to me. There is something so perfect, in my mind, about the simplicity vs. the overly dramatic. Succulents can’t help but be divas, they are Born This Way! (Shameless Lady GaGa reference – if she were a plant, she would be an incredible aloe of some sort!)
I don’t have the freedom of not having succulents in the palette of plants to be used in my landscape designs – they are so dependable for gardens in Southern California. The worsening drought here means that every plant that is adapted to low water situations will be utilized to its fullest extent. But I’m feeling that I don’t want to “lean” on them as I’ve done in the past.
Maybe I’m growing up – it is almost a cliche that a designer eschews their former complex palettes for a more refined look as they mature in their profession. It could be happening to me. I hope not. I work very hard at staying crazy.
Or maybe it IS just fashion.Things bounce back and forth ( LOVE bright colors! Oh no, HATE bright colors! Pink is the new Black! Actually, the new black is, surprisingly, BLACK, but it is blacker than all previous blacks). In gardens it is no different. and in my climate and others succulents have ruled the day for a long time. They were the new “grasses”. Which in turn were the new… what horticultural fashion did grasses replace?
What is on the other side of succulents? I know there is a huge surge for natives, but that seems more political to me than fashion (although I don’t know, politics can be very fashion-y!).
What do you predict?