Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Meet Our Community: Gerhard Bock, fusion gardener

 

Let's get to know each other!


Since we're not able to meet up in person this year, let's meet online. Every week we're introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We're excited to see what everyone's talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you'd like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)


Gerhard Bock



Succulent mounds in the front garden. Cluttered, yes, but filled with treasures.
I want to inspire other gardeners to be bold and adventurous, constantly try new things, and never be afraid of failure. It's nice when a great plant does well, but you learn more when it doesn't. 

On my blog Succulents and More I chronicle the evolution of my garden, with all the successes and failures that come with it. I also write about other gardens I visit, both private and public, as well as cool nurseries, interesting books, and anything else plant-related that catches my attention. My blog is also my personal gardening journal, and I often look back at older posts to see how a particular plant or section of the garden was doing at a particular time. 

I was born and raised in southern Germany, but I've lived in the U.S. for most of my adult life. I garden in Davis, California, in a Mediterranean climate with virtually no rainfall between May and October. Our USDA zone is 9b, so temperatures below freezing are fortunately rare. 

Others may call my garden a collector’s garden or (gasp!) an unfocused hodgepodge, but it’s exactly what I need it to be. This year in particular it’s been a sanctuary, keeping me grounded and reasonably sane. For lack of a better word, I call my style Fusion Gardening. I’m into succulents, especially agaves and aloes. Cycads and bromeliads. Southern hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa) and Mediterranean plants. California natives. The odd tropical (I love my Ensete 'Maurelii') and a bamboo or two. My garden is a wild combination of all these. I have bougainvillea growing next to manzanita, with cycads and agaves nearby. I also bring home rocks from road trips, and they get tossed into the mix.

The planting strip along the sidewalk combines most of my favorite plants.


One thing I don’t like about my property: it’s too small. At 8,100 sq. ft., there just isn’t enough room for all the plants I like. I constantly remove and add, depending on what thrives or struggles and on my current favorites. That’s why this garden will forever be a work-in-progress. Ideally I’d like an acre or two, maybe on a hill so I'd have different levels to play with, and closer to the coast so there’s less chance of a hard freeze. Zone 10 would suit me just fine! 

My favorite plant at this moment is Hechtia argentea, a terrestrial bromeliad from Mexico that forms a rosette of brilliant silver leaves. There's nothing like it. The leaf margins are armed with barbs that can draw blood. I love plants that know how to defend themselves. It's the perfect combination of beauty and danger. 

I have quite a few favorite gardens, but The Huntington in San Marino, California, is at the top. It has all my favorite plants in one place, from Old and New World succulents to a world-class cycad collection, not to mention a palm garden and both a Japanese and a Chinese garden. It also has an incredible art and book collection – ideal for visiting companions who aren't into plants the way we are.


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Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Gerhard! You can follow Gerhard at Succulents and More and on his Instagram.


Photographs courtesy of Gerhard Bock.

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