The open-sided garden pavilion was designed to frame views across the garden. Near the path, a swath of ball-shaped barrel cacti offers a counterpoint to the stiff upright shapes of aloe and agave.

The aluminum sculpture "Ventana," by local artist Peter Mitten, anchors a collection of flowering aloes and echoes the broad silvery-gray leaves of Agave attenuata 'Bouttin Blue'.

Patrick Anderson and Zelda, queen of the garden.

Cacti and succulents do well in containers. Patrick made this eye-catching display from square ceramic drainpipes. There are ready-made potting mixes for these sorts of plants, but Patrick prefers to improve on them with his own formula: To a commercial cactus potting mix, add one-third crushed pumice or turkey grit and a generous handful of a slow-release general fertilizer like Osmocote. Shallow, wide pots usually suit cacti and succulents best, as the plants are shallow-rooted. For deep containers, partially fill with rock or other clean rubble. Then spread a layer of horticultural fabric mulch across the top, and fill with potting compost. (The mulch prevents the soil from washing out.)

The rich gold color of the house complements the mostly gray-green and occasional dark red foliage colors in the garden.

Aeonium arboretum
'Schwarzkopf' blossom

The pottery and table linens used to deck out the garden pavilion pick up the colors at work throughout the garden. Pot-grown specimens line the edges of the broad staircase leading up to the pavilion, and individual plants are brought in to accent the season.

Aloe plants have remarkable colors and markings, which make them particularly attractive for arid gardens.

A carpet of rust-red, starfish-shaped Aloe cameronii is one of Patrick's favorite features in the garden.

Bold plants and equally bold garden ornaments help maintain scale.

In the distance, beyond the golden barrel cacti, the spare white trunk of Hercules glows in the afternoon sun.

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Becoming Obsessive

An expert's garden, designed around a plant collection

Written by Ethne Clarke
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Edmund Barr

When you begin to make a garden, it's all too easy to get carried away acquiring plants. One of this, one of that, and suddenly the garden has become a dotty collection of curiosities. One way to avoid this pitfall is to focus on collecting every species of a single plant genus. Like Patrick Anderson; for him, the revered genus was––and remains––Aloe; there are more than 300 species alone. "I do try to select them according to what they will look like in the garden, but I admit that I've never met an aloe I didn't want," says Patrick, a touch ruefully. He echoes the words of every collector who has ever pursued an object of desire down a long and dangerous road that, all too often, ends in a place called Obsession. 

Photography: Edmund Barr