Simply Succulents is simply fascinating

Close up of a stump container hosting various succulents such as Aloe (Delta Lights), Echeveria and Kalanchoe. (Megan Fleischer)

A long-standing tradition at Inniswood Metro Gardens is the seasonal garden theme for the display beds. This theme is chosen at the beginning of every year to help guide the designs of the 80 plus containers and annual displays planted throughout the grounds. In years past, themes have been everything from Going Tropical to A Concert of Color and Desirable and Reliable Annuals.

This year’s theme, Simply Succulents, has brought a new concept to gardening in Ohio’s climate. It has already created a lot of excitement between visitors and staff alike. Simply Succulents also has Inniswood staff anticipating some challenges along the way, given Ohio’s somewhat unpredictable weather.

So, you might be asking, what is a succulent? A simple definition categorizes succulents as plants that store water in their leaves.

Some plants that use their leaves for water storage are called xerophytes, literally translated: dry plants. They are adapted to growing in arid, desert regions. The water stored in the leaves of succulents serves as a reserve that helps them survive the dry conditions they experience in their native habitat. Along with the water-storing capabilities in their leaves, succulents typically have shallow roots so that during even the smallest amount of rainfall they can absorb the precipitation and store it.

If you have gardened for any amount of time in Ohio, you know that you have to roll with the punches that Mother Nature can swing at any given time. Sometimes, Ohio summers are hot and dry and some years we have experienced unseasonable cool and wet conditions. One thing is for certain if you are a gardener in Ohio: you’ve got the weather forecast at your fingertips in anticipation for whatever weather phenomenon might be coming your way.

Various succulents, including a leather plant and Mexican hens and chicks adorn a hollowed-out log container in the Brookwood Trail garden at Inniswood. (Megan Fleischer)

A typical seasonal (May-October) display in the gardens, filled with moisture-loving annuals, would have me doing rain dances at least once a week in hopes of consistent, soaking rains. This year I am singing a different tune. This year (but only this year) I will sleep a little better if we have a drier summer.

At your next visit to Inniswood Metro Gardens, one garden not to miss is the display along the Brookwood Trail. Hollowed-out logs and stumps collected from the woods were repurposed as planters housing a collection of succulents.

A wide variety of succulents were propagated by cuttings in our greenhouse over the winter which enabled us to choose from a wide variety of plants for this garden. While positioning the plants in the bed for planting, particular attention was given to leaf color, shape and texture as well as mixing varying heights of plants to create depth and dimension in the space.

The Brookwood Trail garden really embodies the excitement staff had working with succulents. It’s a true visual treat that will leave you feeling fascinated. Maybe you’ll even want to add a succulent, or several, into your own gardens.

Horticulturist, Inniswood Metro Gardens