June 23, 2020
Things have changed around our yard since last year. When we initially designed the layout for the different beds it involved flowers and mulching. This was particularly true for the two beds covered by shade trees. The one next to the house we just weeded and mulched. The bed along the driveway we added to the ornamental grasses that seem to be the only thing we could get to grow and again, mulched. As the year began it was my intent to do the same. That was before the succulents began to arrive.
I have mentioned how Melissa has spent a lot of time researching how and where she could grow different types of succulents. Many of the species are not hardy enough to make it through even the mild Arkansas winters and others would struggle to survive in the oppressive summer heat. There are a few species that can overcome both the heat and cold, if they are shaded a good part of the day. You also need to make sure they are in a well-drained substratum. Mulch is designed to retain water and could cause root rot, so we needed to use pea gravel. That is where our two tree covered beds come into play.
What we have done in the bed near the house is to use a mixture of mulch and pea gravel. The mulch helps keep the grass and weeds out of the back half of the bed while the succulents planted in the morning sun of the front half of the bed are surrounded by pea gravel. This was also done to cut the cost of buying enough bags of gravel for an area that will never have succulents. We took a different approach for the bed along the driveway, choosing to cover it entirely in pea gravel. Sometimes it is worth the extra cost.
THOUGHTS: Our succulent beds represent different approaches to the same problem, and as usual, our approach was dictated by the past. I planted bulbs along the walk to the house, but they had not done well. We decided to cover them over and plant succulents. For the driveway we decided to put the grasses and succulents together. The grasses had established last year and now the pea gravel over the entire bed will help the succulents do the same. Past decisions are what is causing the unrest we now face. Like our driveway there are ways to exist together if we are willing to make different choices. Change will likely be more expensive but providing economic dignity for everyone should be a right and not a privilege. If you can, work to keep the conversation going.