Something’s special about succulents

What drives a perfectly respectable grandmother, homing in on a plant in a perfect stranger’s garden, to sneak “just a leaf” and surreptitiously stash it in her handbag? Why must my friend obsessively trawl through garage sale offerings, searching for rusty old pots and pans, old china teacups? Why would a grown woman give individual names to her plants? The answer is, in a word, “succulents”! And I’m with these succulent fanatics 100 per cent!

So what’s going on with succulents? What’s so special about them?


Most ornamental plant types are valued as objects either individually, or as part of a whole garden or landscape. They are beautiful, or interesting, or architectural. Gardeners nurture them and are rewarded with the visual and other delights inherent in the plants themselves.

Succulents have additional, unique qualities that somehow bring about a more intense relationship between the plant and the gardener. Succulents have “character” which powerfully motivates people to interact with them in particularly creative ways, and to express their own personalities.


Ease of propagation and incredible diversity of unusual and eccentric colours and forms, make succulents the perfect vehicles for creativity and drives the impulse to “collect”. You can do things with succulents that you can’t do with most other plants. You can make a garden of tiny jewel-like plants, in a teacup, on your window sill. You can grow silver-grey varieties an old rusty bread tin in the harsh sun and say “this is beautiful”.


Succulents can be readily handled, too, and their smooth, plump (yes, succulent) leaves can make some varieties look almost like tiny creatures from another world.


The succulent collection at Hazelgrove, at Kandos in central western NSW, is a great example of the creativity that succulents can evoke.


Tucked away in a sun-drenched courtyard adjoining the house, the combination of concrete, succulents and rusted iron and steel makes for a bold and dramatic effect.


What I love most about succulents is the way they don’t seem to take a backward step. They revel in harsh climates, and display their best colours when they’re stressed.

Succulents are definitely “on the wild side” of the plant kingdom, and succulent lovers are a bit that way themselves!

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Hey, someone else just wrote about a nursery that specialized in succulents. Is this a somewhat new fad there? It has been going on for a while here, and we had been using them before it became a fad. It was accidental for me, just because houseleeks and other smaller succulents had done so well in my downtown planter box. Succulents are now so common that they can be annoying where too abundant where other plant material would probably be better. Have you seen these?
    It is rare to see such planting executed so well.

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