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Gardening & More: Succulent Show starts this weekend at botanical gardens

MOSS MUSH — The mushroom form was seen in last year’s Succulent Show at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. It is made from a wire pot tipped upside down and secured to a mailing tube. Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko.
BUFFALO — It is nice to have a little aloe plant on your kitchen windowsill, but there is so much more you can do with succulents.

Get great ideas by looking at the amazing exhibits, during the Succulent Show, scheduled from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, from Saturday, Sept. 7 – Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave. in Buffalo.

Tickets are currently on sale for adults, senior citizens, students 13 and older (with identification) and children 3 – 12. Botanical garden members and children younger than 3 may attend for free.

Some of the exhibits, such as a female figure created out of succulents, might be beyond the skills of the average gardener, but there are plenty of ideas that you can borrow and use at home.

I talked with Julie McDonald, gardener at the botanical gardens, about some of the designs she and fellow gardener, Teresa Mazikowski, created last year.

Perhaps the simplest idea is to mix a variety of succulents in a container. Start with some tall plants such as sansevieria, also called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. Add shorter plants, then add your smallest plants, even cuttings of a plant, last.

Look for variety. Succulents can be tall, slender and upright; very wide and floppy, like a puppy’s ear; floral shaped or cascading. They can be shiny or fuzzy. They can come in shades of green, silvery gray and yellow, with splashes of red and purple and white.
GREEN IDEAS — Get creative and mix different kind of succulents in one container.


Another way to display succulents is on a form.

For a mushroom, McDonald and Mazikowski took a wire flower pot and turned it upside-down. They wired thick, plastic netting (the kind you use around a plant to keep deer and rabbits from eating it) to the pot. Then, they glued preserved moss to the netting. A section of a large, cardboard mailing tube formed the stem. The tube was wired to the inside of the basket and covered with moss. You can add hens and chicks or other succulents.

A simple cone shape covered in succulents would look great in the garden and it could make an attractive Christmas decoration, as well.

McDonald and Mazikowski used a tomato cage turned upside-down. The legs of the cage were wired together a few inches from the top. The legs were splayed enough at the top to form a pocket, where a plant could be inserted.

Plastic netting was wired to the cage. Presoaked sphagnum moss was added to the inside edges, to hold in the moisture. McDonald said to not use Spanish moss; it won’t last.

Sphagnum moss is expensive and heavy, so do not fill the entire tomato cage with this type of moss.

Wire the succulent cuttings in place.

Check out the Succulent Show at the botanical gardens, to see what new ideas you can glean this year.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, which is the official online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.

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