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Surreal Succulents at RHS Malvern

Last year Surreal Succulents were excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the RHS shows. T...

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Last year Surreal Succulents were excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the RHS shows. This was a new challenge for us as we are new to showing plants at this level. We wanted to showcase the colour, texture and form and highlight how well they work in a garden setting together. We came up with a contemporary display garden theme that would suit any small space such as a yard, patio or balcony garden. With of course  its’s own Surreal Succulents style.

We decided to design and make some features for our show stand including our bespoke vertical succulent garden, succulent chaise longe and also corten steel planters. With a contemporary designer theme, we wanted to show how you can squeeze lots of plants into a small space.  Using existing walls or furniture with space for plants designed into it to take up as little room as possible.

We were delighted to be approached by BBC Gardener’s World as they wanted to do a feature on us preparing for the show and film the final display garden. This was fantastic news for us but the pressure was on.

Mark came up with the design of the vertical garden and succulent chaise lounge.  The succulent chaise lounge was inspired by the amazing repetitive patterns found in succulents and the design was certainly surreal. It was a concept piece that is actually comfier than it looks. We planted the head rest with Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ as these grow giant rosettes on the end of large upright stems, these looked like sun parasols. We also mounted multiple Aeonium tabuliforme vertically into the design.

The vertical garden was designed with the idea that if you only have a small wall space you can still enjoy a wonderful colourful succulent garden. We added some laser etched foot prints to make the design more surreal and add a different texture to the show piece. This was planted up with our Echeveria collection and looked amazing.

We then made and planted some large planters to show how a raised bed or a rockery/gravel garden might look when planted up with amazing succulents. Our feature plants were the Aloe polyphylla, Aeonium ‘Pomegranate’ , Aeonium ‘Velour’, Aeonium ‘Ice Warrior’ and Aeonium ‘Sunburst’.

Our large corten steel bowls were planted up with our Surreal Succulents hybrids and large Echeveria’s from our collection. These were a great edition to the stand, and were a massive hit with the visitors.

We finished the set up with only 10 minutes to spare, It looked amazing and we were so pleased with it. All the features worked well and the colours of the planters and wooden textures went really well with the plants.

The next morning we were met by the BBC producers and it was at this point we received our medal. A silver gilt, we were so happy and delighted as this was our first RHS silver gilt we had ever received. It was so nice to share this experience with the BBC team as they had met us before and filmed at the nursery to cover the feature, they were really rooting for us.

The show opened and we were filmed with the legendary Adam Frost, It was amazing to chat with him before filming. Adam said he had seen our feature covering our nursery and he really enjoyed it.

A short while later we also met Carol Klein who was very popular at the show. The floral Marquee soon filled and the atmosphere was buzzing. It was amazing watching the crowds of people taking pictures selfies and popping their pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

We felt a massive sense of achievement but the best bit was meeting all of you that visited the show. We loved everyone getting inspired by our garden and buying our succulents.

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Surreal Garden Design

Garden Design At Night

We wanted to share with you one of our fantastic designed garden rooms. This was a collaboration ...

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Garden Design At Night

We wanted to share with you one of our fantastic designed garden rooms. This was a collaboration between our new in house designer maker Mark Lea and Surreal Succulents.

The garden/yard was a small space and it was a challenge to fit in all the clients’ demands, as they needed it to be practical as an entertaining space as well as showcasing their plants. With the current design it was hard to use the space for entertaining more than a few people. After a consultation with the client it was important to house an area for seating, cooking BBQ’s and evening relaxing in the summer time. Using CAD (computer aided designs) we were able to create the layout of the space.

Mark came up with the idea of having large raised planted beds, which would incorporate seating. The seating would connect the space together and make great viewing platforms for all the chosen planted succulents. You would then be able to get a close up view of how fantastically architectural the structures of the succulent plants can be. These beds would also provide the perfect growing conditions that succulents need to thrive.

With the design being so geometric and such a small space, Mark decided to use a contemporary tile design to give the space a modern feel and break up the straight lines of the raised beds. This looked great on the CAD rendering and the client was happy with the design.

The space was cleared and construction began, foundations were laid and the walls and raised beds were constructed. The raised beds were then rendered and painted to give the space a nice contrast. The walls were painted a light grey to make the space nice and light without reflecting or absorbing the natural light. These colours contrasted the red cedar wood that would be used for the capping and benches.

Being a contemporary designer Mark wanted to use some of his digital craft skills to add a narrative to the garden. The client would often talk about how his pet cats loved to use the space and was surprised by the amount of animals his cats would catch even though it wasn’t a rural location. This gave Mark the idea to add this story into the garden, choosing to place hidden footprints on the top of the raised beds and benches to tell the story of all the animals lurking out there that might not often be seen. Mark used a laser cutter to engrave these into the surface of the wood with a process known as Rasta engraving. The laser burns into the surface of the wood and leaves the effect of the footprints.

The garden room was planted up using a number of Surreal Succulents’ favourite plants. The garden was designed and planted with low maintenance in mind. There were some existing plants that the client wanted to keep in the space including a palm and fern tree. It was great using these as it gave the garden height in the planting while the succulents were establishing themselves. We used Surreal Succulents’ favourite varieties such as Aeonium Pomegranate, Aeonuim Red Edge, Aeonium ‘Velour’ as feature plants, these we complimented with contrasting Aeonium SunburstEcheveria Elegans, Echeveria Glauca and sempervivums

These varieties of succulents were used for their range of great contrasting colours and their striking architectural structures. The bespoke benches with etchings were then made and fitted. These connected the space and really show the clever design that made the space practical, meeting the client’s wishes. Every bench was under lit with colour changing LED’s so at night the mood of the space could easily be changed and controlled.

One year on

The design for the space has really worked and can now comfortably house 10 plus guests. The client was very satisfied with the end result saying their house feels like it has an extra room added despite being their garden/yard. They were especially pleased with the way you can even enjoy the garden over the winter as the succulents look amazing all year round unlike a lot of flowering perennials which lose their flowers and leaves. With the clever use of design in the space, it feels so much bigger and roomy. The succulents in the garden are happy and looking fantastic, they have certainly grown in just over a year. We hope you enjoy looking through the images and are inspired by how small spaces can be used.