Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


Greenhouse Inspiration

Sometimes a garden just hits you. Sometimes you walk into a garden so fabulous, your jaw hangs open for a period of minutes while you take in its glory. This feeling first happened to me at Ryan Gainey’s Atlanta home walking around his cottage garden and it happened to me again over the weekend at the greenhouse on the Anne Springs Close Greenway property just outside of Charlotte, NC.

greenhouse inspiration


Every corner of the greenhouse was as full as it could be with greenery, pots and plants. A lime tree, variegated bougainvillea, orchids, hibiscus, the list goes on. And the size of the fiddle leaf fig tree just blows your mind, doesn’t it?

greenhouse inspiration

The greenhouse of my dreams has shelves just like this – the perfect size for terra cotta pots en masse. I couldn’t get enough.

greenhouse inspiration

greenhouse inspiration

greenhouse inspiration

greenhouse inspiration

I spotted this Starfish Flower Cactus (Stapelia grandiflora ) from all the way across the room. I have never seen anything like the star-shaped flower that blooms at the tips of these branches. It’s quite a sight, especially with at least a half a dozen blooms right behind the first large flower.

greenhouse inspiration

greenhouse inspiration

Orchids galore… Here are a few tips on growing your own.

greenhouse inspiration

greenhouse inspiration

And a little treat tucked far in the back near the wall, a baby pineapple sprouting up!

greenhouse inspiration

All photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa

Garden Inspiration in San Francisco

I was in San Francisco last week and I was so pleased that everywhere I turned there were beautiful containers, giant succulents, and colorful (mini!) city gardens. Here are a few of the plants and containers that really inspired me during our trip. I am dying to add a few more succulents to my collection, and hopefully find a sunny place they’ll thrive.

garden inspiration from san francisco

This succulent container (below) has got to be the healthiest and biggest I’ve ever seen. I love the idea of succulents in a strawberry pot. Here are a few other ideas for succulents in your home!

garden inspiration from san francisco

This one (below) was also huge! I wish I’d gotten a picture standing beside it for scale. It was at least 3 feet tall and as big as my face. It was so fascinating to see so many succulents with stems thick and strong like tree branches. I even spotted a few succulents as big as shrubs. From afar, I’d never have known the difference!

garden inspiration from san francisco

I’m not sure what these purple-headed fellows are, but they are lovely. Nestled in this stone container structure and up against the purple walls of the boutique they belonged to, they really stood out!

Update : A kind reader emailed to tell me these are statice, they like dry conditions and do well in California. (Thanks, Diane!)

garden inspiration from san francisco

This is definitely the biggest cactus I’ve ever seen!

garden inspiration from san francisco

At every storefront and back alley there are containers (mostly wooden, I noticed) like this one, with succulents, grasses and herbs lending an intimate and thoughtful feel to the quick city streets. Here are a few great succulent ideas I’m going to try next in my own garden. I’m definitely inspired by these container gardens and the thoughtfulness of those who created them!

garden inspiration from san francisco

Photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa

Succulent plants in a container from Shawna Coronado

Want container gardens without the pain of regular watering? Planting succulents in creative container gardens usually means you water less, but still have all the beauty of gorgeous plants on your patio or balcony. In the photo right I have combined three succulents in individual pots (Rainbow Bush – Variegated Elephant Plant, Coppertone Stonecrop, and Jet Beads Stonecrop). Top photo shows several succulents within a single container (Ghost Plant, Paddle Plant, and Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’).

Succulents in containers at Shawna Coronado garden.

Top 3 Tips for Growing Succulents

1. Use a loose soil that drains freely. Too much water is the curse of death for a succulent. Buy commercial succulent and cactus soil or make your own using 1/3 course sand, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 grit (usually a mix of lava fines, pumice, and/or perlite).

2. Position succulent containers in bright growing conditions or in direct full sunlight.

3. Never let water stand in a succulent container and feed with an organic cactus fertilizer.

Ideas for Standard Containers

What about the standard containers you have out now? Perhaps the hot late August weather is encouraging them to dry out a bit. I have an awesome solution: Plant Nanny’s!

Plant Nanny’s are glass watering globes that help you water without constant hovering over your containers. Insert the Plant Nanny stake into moist soil, then fill the watering globe and place into the stake. When the water gets low, you know you need to water again.

Both ideas above offer great late summer time saving ideas for containers. All the beauty with far less watering worries!

Plant Nanny in Shawna Coronado garden.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.

succulent containers

Succulents are hot. And for good reason. They take almost no maintenance, and they’re gorgeous! The images in today’s post are from a recent photo shoot on planting succulent container gardens, which will appear in an upcoming book.

I love the color and texture combinations in the mix at left, which includes a blooming Sedum cauticola Cola Cola, pink-tipped Violet Queen echeveria, purple-edged Gremlin kalanchoe, purple-striped Echeveria nodulosa, Aloe dorotheae Sunset, and Jitters jade plant.

Scroll down to see several other combinations that we shot that day. Which is your favorite? I have a hard time choosing just one.

A trio of succulent containers, including Aloe vera in the blue crate, echeveria in the round brown pot, and various cacti and Sedum nussbaumerianum in a square brown container.

A resin fountain converted into a succulent trough garden

An armillary filled with hens and chicks (Sempervivums)

everything’s better with bluebonnets

I spent last week in the Hill Country of Texas in and around Fredericksburg in Gillespie County in search of wildflowers, as well as beautiful gardens and culinary delights, all part of a press tour arranged by Geiger and Associates and the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau. This part of Texas is renowned for its springtime fields of bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), the state flower. Sadly, the extreme drought plaguing the region this year has diminished the show. But I still found plenty of gorgeous flowers to enjoy.

The close up shot of a bluebonnet, at left, was taken in the garden at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm where I stayed two nights in one of their delightful Sunday house cottage replicas. I didn’t indulge in one of their spa treatments, but did partake of a delicious salad sampler lunch in their restaurant. Owners Rosemary and Dick Estenson made certain that I was taken care of well.

One area attraction that was a must-see on my list was Wildseed Farms, the largest wild seed producer in the nation, and host to more than 300,000 visitors yearly. In addition to wildflower display gardens, John Thomas and his staff offer a great selection of landscape plants, gift items, and an on-site restaurant called the Brewbonnet Biergarten, where we had lunch.

Field of pink primroses at Wildseed Farms

Claret cup cactus blooming in display gardens at Wildseed Farms.

One bit of trivia: Not all bluebonnets are blue! Color can vary from pure white to pink to blue to near maroon. Wildseed Farms carries ‘Alamo Fire’ maroon bluebonnet in their online catalog, and has white forms of the plant on display.

The best display of bluebonnets that I saw, however, was at Torre de Pietra Vineyards, one stop on an afternoon Texas Winery tour that included Pedernales Cellars.

Bluebonnets at Torre di Pietra Vineyards

Hinckley's golden columbine

Wildflowers could show up almost anywhere in Fredericksburg. The Hinckley’s golden columbine pictured in this post was right in the middle of town next to the Vereins Kirche, a symbol of the town’s German Heritage, and an extension of the Pioneer Museum. Just down Main Street at the main site of the museum, I spotted some brilliant orange Indian paint brushes on the grounds surrounding the historical buildings on display.

Indian paintbrush at the Fredericksburg Pioneer Museum

Spiderwort growing in a crack at Enchanted Rock

One morning I took a trip to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This granite outcropping provides fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, but an inhospitable substrate for plant growth. But as you can see at right, some determined plants take root in cracks and crevices, providing color in this harsh environment. For those searching for wildflowers at the park, you’ll have better luck by taking the loop trail around the rock.

I have several seedlings of bluebonnets growing in my greenhouse at home. I’ll plant them in the garden this spring and fondly remember the Texas Hill Country when they send up their fragrant blue and white spires.

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