A succulent and cactus garden to remember at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

I recently wrote about the lovely herb garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens but that wasn’t the only standout part of that special garden. The succulent and cactus garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is one of the best succulent gardens I’ve come across to date. My husband has never really understood the attraction of cacti in particular but has had his eyes opened at this garden.

a round garden bed centre piece with a variety of succulent types of differing heights
The succulent garden is one of my favourite parts of this botanic garden

The garden contains a good variety of succulents, including many cacti. Some are common in home gardens, while others are not but each species has something interesting to show.

lots of different types of succulents, including cacti
The succulent garden has lots of different types of succulents
average looking, spikey cacti alongside unusual, lumpy succulents
The garden mixes unusual succulents with those that are more familiar

The garden is well designed – there isn’t a single part that doesn’t offer an interesting view.

other succulent rooms can be seen in the background
Each section of the garden is designed to provide an interesting view

I often find that home gardeners mostly choose low growing succulents and cacti for their gardens so it’s not all that often that you find some of the various, very interesting, taller succulents. This garden certainly breaks that trend though with succulents of every height.

succlents of all shapes and sizes
The garden doesn’t just include low growing succulents – it showcases succulents of all sizes including small trees

Another thing I quite enjoyed about this garden was the good choice of mulch material. The colour and texture work well with the wide variety of succulents throughout the garden. Anyone planning their own succulent garden would do well to consider using a similar mulch. That’s not to say of course that there aren’t other good choices but if you’re unsure what to pick, this is a great option.

the garden is mulched with mostly red, rough pebbles
A key part of the design of this garden is the pebble mulch – it offers a good contrast to all of the succulents in the garden

The garden designer also chose a good mix of succulents with very different forms and textures.

a round succulent next to a straight succulent
The garden designer has cleverly combined succulents with different forms
a furry and spiky cactus
There were so many interesting textures to see

I was also please to see that the garden does a good job of showing visitors how succulents that are commonly used indoors can also be grown outdoors.

monther in laws tongue
It was also nice to see some of the succulents that are commonly used as indoor plants growing outdoors

Sometimes it can be hard to describe why succulents are such nice plants, especially for people who can’t get pask all those spines but I think every succulent has something interesting to offer. And with all their amazing colours, patterns, forms and textures, they still mange to throw flowers into their tool box of wonders.

a succulent with leaves that fan out and change colour as they go
One of the best things about succulents is the wonderful patterns they make
spiky cactus with flower buds
I was pleased to find that some of the succulents were starting to flower as it’s too cold for most succulents to flower at our place so I rarely get to see such a treat
a tree succulent with white flowers
A succulent in full bloom
a flower bud on a cactus just starting to open
Another succulent just starting to flower

Another thing that struck me about this garden was the lack of damaged and dead plant matter. With a garden the size of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, one might expect to find plenty of spent flowers and plants with damage from animals and the many visitors the garden gets every day. Not the succulent garden though. It’s clearly cared for by gardeners who truly appreciate it.

Many different succulents planted en mass
A proud display of succulents

This may or may not have something to do with the fact that it is situated right next door to the Sydney Herbarium… And this of course makes it very convenient to visit both places if you’re one of the  special people allowed to visit the herbarium.

succulents in front of the herbarium
The garden backs onto the Sydney Herbarium

Speaking of herbaria – it is also worth noting that the succulent garden has species from all over the world. As a result it certainly has some odd looking gems.

an opuntia aciculata from texas
The garden contains succulents from all over the world
a succulent with big, broad, flat leaves dotted with round, tubular structures
This garden certainly had some of the oddest looking succulents I’ve ever seen

I don’t visit Sydney all that often but now that I’ve seen the succulent garden, it’s definitely going to be on my list of places to visit again soon. If you get the chance to visit, I highly recommend setting aside a day to meander through the whole botanic garden but if your time is limited then I reckon the succulent garden is the place to go.