Click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr. Click here to see the entire album titled Sub-irrigation » California "Bubble SIP" Drought Tolerant Patio Garden. The album contains an archive of photos taken since the garden was started in August of last year.
The sub-irrigated patio garden required virtually no maintenance this past month. Only a couple of plants needed their reservoirs refilled when I photographed the garden last Thursday, February 5. The specimen Dracaena marginata was one of them. No surprise after a month.
The garden is in shade now because the second story to the right (south) blocks the sun now low in the winter sky. If this were my property I would move the garden to this location in the sun during the winter. The plants would be significantly more robust with some direct sunlight. Moving a garden like this one is easy to do with portable SIPs.
Some amateur gardener’s think there is no need for sub-irrigated planters (SIP) in a succulent garden. That is not true. All terrestrial plants benefit by the use of SIPs. They provide a reliable, consistent source of water and oxygen and just as important they conserve precious water during a California drought crisis.
When viewing this garden, keep in mind that I threw it together in the heat of summer with no help. Having just moved back here from NY I had little time to draw up a detailed plan or carefully select containers as to color and shape. It is a rather impromptu garden. Read this prior post for more of the back story.
Evidently volunteer amateur gardeners at nearby Balboa Park helped plant a large number of containerized succulents also. They are all top-watered in planters with traditional drainage and don't look healthy. See photos below.
The largest succulent planting is in Plaza de Panama. I visit the plaza just about every day and have really enjoyed my street photography hobby there. I view the plaza as the new heart of Balboa Park. The people watching is fabulous. The plaza is like a 3-ring circus…make that a 12-ring circus. It ranks close to Manhattan for street photography in my view.
For me the renovation of the plaza was the best improvement of Balboa Park in the seventeen years that I’ve lived here. The removal of an ugly parking lot was done at relatively low cost by resurfacing the plaza and tightly controlling the movement of cars. They also added umbrella tables and chairs.
A significant addition was the installation of 50 large olive jar shaped concrete planters. They are very attractive and in harmony with the architecture. The succulents are not. In my view the quality and health of the plants is mediocre at best. The plants are barely visible from a distance since most of them have little or no profile above the planters.
Looking down from the top
One of the better ones.
See the rest of the planters in this Flickr album and you can decide for yourself about the benefit of SIPs vs. top watering.