Irish Independent Weekend Magazine | 21 February 2015
I love the idea of creating a planter shape around a specific plant. Every plant is totally different, particularly with succulents where you have an endless array of shapes, sizes and textures. The idea of plants growing in a little piece of art really appeals to me and will make a collection of succulents really stand out in your home. With this in mind and an amazing mix of succulents to use, I went on a search to find someone who would create some custom ceramic succulent pots for me. There are many ceramic artists out there who create beautiful work and the ceramic planters which were custom made for the plants here are made by an artist in my region called Ian Carty. These planters are have a beautiful coppery raku shine on the outside, making each totally unique. The fact that they have not been glazed inside is actually a good thing as succulents like a dry pot and gritty soil. I asked the artist to make a collection of three planters to suit three different succulent plants. The largest one has a turquoise raku shimmer at the rim and is home to a Haworthia attenuata which is also known as a Zebra plant. The medium sized planter, similar in design to the larger one, is home to a lovely fleshy grey/blue coloured succulent called Pachyphytum oviferum, or Moonstone. This plant has a beautiful dusty grey-blue tint to its fleshy, round leaves and goes with almost any planter. The last, and my favourite of the planters houses the incredibly interesting Lithops, or Living stone plant. These plants are absolutely fascinating. They resemble rounded stones that split and grow a new plant from the centre of the two halves. The planter, which we kept deliberately simple in style, is so perfect with this low growing grey green mounded plant. What a great present a planter such as this would make!
There are so many varieties of the African succulent Lithops. From flat topped greens and reds to the incredible variety of flowers which burst out of the centre of the ‘stones’ these plants are really different. In nature they grow in this unique shape to blend in with their stony surroundings, thus avoiding getting eaten. If you look these plants up online it is amazing to see the amount of varieties and colours available and you can understand why there are many collectors out there who are drawn to the easy to care for plant which gives a wonderful flower display under the right conditions. In winter the plants start to grow new leaves which then emerge in Spring. Interestingly the autumn flowers are often sweetly scented. The great thing about these plants is that they are easily grown and given enough sun and well drained soil will do very well in almost all temperatures. Another interesting fact is that the plant has an ability to adapt to its surroundings in a phenomenon called ‘mimicry’ which allows the it to blend in totally to its surroundings, making it virtually impossible to detect to predators. Fascinating!
Care: The most important thing about caring for a living stone is to avoid the plants getting too wet. The clue is to keep them barely watered, so a coarse, well drained soil is key to the health of these plants. This extremely fleshy plant which is 90% water can actually burst if overwatered!. The main rule is that while the plant is dormant (Spring and Summer) it should be watered very little and after this just barely water every couple of weeks, you know it’s too dry when the leaves appear wrinkled. Do check the care on the label though as this can differ dependent on the type.
For a really great selection of succulents have a look at Johnstown Garden centre. You can even order them online through their mail order catalogue on their site at johnstowngardencentre.ie
Getting a pice of Ceramic art made up is really great idea as a present or just as a focal feature for your own window cill or fireplace. ceramicsireland.org have a great directory of artists which specialize in ceramics. Ian Carty ceramics in Drumcliffe, Sligo has some wonderful unique pieces which would be perfect to get creative with. iancartyceramics.blogspot.ie