Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
There are many ways to feature succulents in the landscape. Two options include knot gardens and mosaics. In some cases these are called quilt gardens. One can use succulents to create all sorts of living mosaics, wall art, and decorative garden beds.
For wall art mosaics, the succulents are typically planted into a frame much as you would when framing a picture. Depending on the plants used, this wall art can be used indoors or outdoors. A living mosaic of wall art is often displayed in outdoor rooms.
For this wall art, the succulents can be combined with compatible species, such as alpines. Iíve seen examples of outdoor chandeliers planted with succulents and other plants so this becomes a living topiary. For wall mosaics, arrange the plants to create decorative shapes or to spell out letters or words.
In some cases, flowering kalanchoes are used for wall art. These can be arranged by flower color to create all sorts of fanciful shapes and mosaic scenes.
One of the best known displays of mosaics was at the International Mosaiculture Competition in Montreal. For this fabulous garden show, groups and organizations from over 30 countries created topiaries or mosaic plantings in all sorts of unbelievable shapes from animals and mythical creatures to literary and environmental themes. In many of these living sculptures, some of the most common plants were sempervivums and sedums along with echeverias.
Mosaic plantings can be created much like a knot garden. Here in western North Carolina, the arboretum does such plantings, and calls them a quilt garden. These are made for viewing from above on a terrace rather than at ground level. As in a knot garden, the mosaic plants are arranged by flower or foliage color to create the desired effect. For the edges of the mosaic, a low growing evergreen is generally selected. Mosaic gardens are a good choice for slightly sloping sites provided there are plenty of stones, rock, or mulch to hold the soil in place.
Use colored stones or gravel in mosaic gardens to help create the visual effect youíre seeking. For example, arrange a colorful blue glass mulch if additional color is needed. Choose the mulch color that will either contrast or complement the cacti and succulents you are using in the mosaic.