The Planting of a Pincushion Garden

The Pincushion Garden is one of the most intricate annual displays you’ll find at the Missouri Botanical Garden. But creating these sensational circles of succulents is no easy task.

What is a pincushion garden?

The Pincushion Garden resurrects a “lost art” of garden design once common in traditional Victorian displays. The complex designs are created by meticulously arranging thousands of tiny succulents or cacti on small circular beds just a few feet in diameter.

During the early 1900’s the Garden had 2 circular beds on either side of the Flora Avenue Entrance, now known as Spink Pavilion. Today’s designs mimic the intricate patterns from those beds.

Our Pincushion Garden

The Pincushion Garden in the Doris Waters Harris Lichtenstein Victorian District is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The 20 circular beds are planted each year with between 25,000 and 40,000 succulents. It takes a team of staff and volunteers at least a week, and sometimes longer, to get all the plants in the ground. The work is often done under a tent to provide a break from the glaring sun and warm temperatures.

Praise for the Pincushion Garden in St. Louis Magazine

Speaking of hot St. Louis summers, the heat of the season can be a challenge for plants in the Pincushion Garden. Succulents store water in their leaves, meaning much like cacti the can handle periods of drought. But unlike cacti, they flourish in cooler temperatures. Innovative drainage and irrigation techniques have been incorporated into the design of the garden to help keep the plants happy all summer long. Horticulturists also work with plant cuttings to replant each year rather than purchase new succulents.

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Pincushion garden circle in September 2016 (Photo by Tom Incrocci)

 

 

Cassidy Moody, Digital Media Specialist

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