The paths were leveled and covered in pea gravel, an ideal path surface for many garden settings, as water percolates straight through; plants germinate freely into it, too, so you can get lots of volunteer shoots to increase plant stocks. Weeds pull out easily, especially if the path is first lined with horticultural fabric mulch or a thick layer of newspaper. And gravel does have a pleasing crunchy sound underfoot.
"The first plant to go in was a tree aloe," says Patrick. Nicknamed Hercules, this plant now towers above a cobalt blue accent wall that also screens a neighboring house from view. Patrick claims he did not consciously arrange his plantings, but, "I did have a picture in my head of how I wanted the garden to look overall-a lush jungle of plants that, although they share similar horticultural needs and belong to the same families, come from different places all over the world." Thus, plants like aloes from South Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean rub shoulders with euphorbias from Madagascar and agaves from Mexico and South America, so the garden is far from natural.
There is no denying that planting in drifts has a very satisfying effect in the garden. Once the older plants in a garden are well-established, they begin increasing in number; agaves make "pups," and cacti and aloes make offsets, which can be separated from the parent and replanted in massed groupings, as Patrick has learned. "I don't want to have one of everything. I want drifts of things. Like the golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii ) by the pavilion: One plant is eye-catching, but a swath is simply breathtaking!"
As the garden has matured, it has taken on another role-as a venue for entertaining. The focus is the pavilion, located at the top of the garden overlooking the house. "From there we watch the sun set and the moon rise, then in the twilight make our way down the paths through the garden, finishing up at the terrace, where we serve dinner," explains Patrick. "We have candles in sconces along the paths to light the way, and it really is quite dramatic. We don't use artificial light in the garden ever-it's too stagey."
There's no denying, though, that this garden has drama and its stars, like an enormous century plant, Agave americana, growing near the driveway. Patrick cautions gardeners to be sure to know how big a plant will be in maturity because "moving a plant that is covered in spines and weighs more than 100 pounds is not something you ever want to do!"
But a garden is never static, and one day the huge agave will flower and die, allowing Patrick to acquire and place another perfect specimen in his beautifully collected garden.