We didn’t think gardening could get much more fun—until we saw the something-cool-around-every-corner gardens of Bunny Williams. While we meandered around these stunning grounds, we couldn’t help but notice some unexpected plants—spiky cheveria, bright chartreuse sedum—popping up in unusual places. The conclusion? Bunny digs succulents.
Eric Ruquist, Bunny’s chief gardener, notes that the renowned interior designer loves succulents for their variety in size, shape, and form, and for their ease of maintenance. That’s why she has three dozen varieties throughout her gardens, including in pots and planters galore. “She likes to create vignettes on tabletops with smaller pots of succulents,” Eric notes, pointing to this arrangement in different-sized clay containers on the table of her pool house.
But one planting in particular caught our eye: this rectangular, mixed arrangement that sits just outside the windows of the conservatory abutting Bunny’s parterre garden.
In its heavy stone planter, it has an elegant, timeless look, yet the effect of the creative combination of plants is angular and modern. We asked Eric how to DIY this look at home, and he shared these easy tips:
1. Choose a large planter that’s at least 6 inches deep. Long, rectangular planters make a more dramatic presentation, but a series of smaller round containers also works well.
2. Fill the planter with a 1:1 mix of potting soil and traction sand, for drainage. Most succulents have similar soil and water requirements, so this mix will work for pretty much any succulent.
3. Select a variety of small-to-medium succulents that are similar in height but that vary in widths and colors. Here Eric used primarily sedum; echeveria, euphorbia; and red, blue, yellow, green, and white varieties of aloe. Before planting, arrange your nursery containers on the ground or a table, and switch them around until you come up with composition you like. Then dig a small hole for each plant, and cover the roots up to the base of the plant’s leaves. To get the look of a profuse planting like this one, Eric says, “I put them in cheek to jowl, as tight as I can.”
4. Place the planter in an area that gets full sun for several hours a day. Water well and consistently, allowing the soil to dry completely between waterings. Resist the urge to overwater! This is the easiest way to cause discoloration of the leaves and ultimately kill the plant.
5. To preserve succulents as perennials, at the end of the summer, transfer them to clay pots and set them in a sunny window inside the house or, as Eric does, store them in a greenhouse.