Crazy Caudiciforms, Succulents, Dyckia, and Other Wonderful Plants in Barry’s Garden

Barry Parker's Garden

Last weekend I visited my friend Barry Parker, the man with the best backyard garden in Toronto. Barry recently returned from a botanical tour of South Africa (he is starting to post pictures on his blog) and we were treated to a slideshow of photos he took on the trip. So of course, I have added the Quiver Tree Forest to an ever-growing list of places I would like to visit someday.

Back to Barry’s garden. Unfortunately, I was lazy and did not bring a proper camera. As a result all of these photos were taken with my phone. Still, they may not be the best photos I have taken, but there are some wonderful things happening at Barry’s that I know you would like to see.

potted dyckia on a windowsill

This spring, Barry purchased an assortment of Dyckia, a prickly member of the bromeliad family. I love what he has done with them here: each plant is potted up and displayed as an individual specimen with interesting stone spheres and water-worn bricks separating the pots. You’ll also notice that they are arranged in descending order by height with the tallest in the center. (I believe he purchased the plants from Phoenix Perennials in BC)

Pink Cyclamen

Barry’s magical cyclamen have emerged from dormancy for another year.

Caudiciforms in Barry Parker's Greenhouse

Also in the greenhouse are a display of crazy caudiciforms: plants with thickened bases/trunks aka caudexes. This is an area of interest for Barry, and one that he has inspired in me.

Rosemary in Pots

A collection of rosemary in pots. Barry overwinters them in the unheated greenhouse.

South African plants in Pots

Barry pulled together this collection of assorted South African plants in acknowledgment of his recent trip.

Succulent Containers

An assortment of sucuclents, but what really stands out here is the echeveria. I know that scale is hard to gauge, but that thing is HUGE. It’s a monster that has grown the largest octopus-like flower stem I have ever seen! It felt animated, as if it could have reached out and grabbed me.


This is a Mesembryanthemaceae from South Africa. I can’t recall the name and am hoping that Barry will come here and tell us. Update: I was wrong. Spoke to Barry and he confirmed that this is Crassula columnaris and not a Mesemb. I was wrong. Pretty cool though, right?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Crazy Caudiciforms, Succulents, Dyckia, and Other Wonderful Plants in Barry’s Garden

  1. The “neighbors” of the monster Echeveria look to include the same green and white variegated succulent you showed in one of your planters a couple weeks back. Rounded petals, right side of the photo… maybe Barry knows the name?

    The wide shot at the top seems to be a well composed space. I like the symmetry with the large shrubs in the rear and urns in the front. A gravel base is more and more interesting to me. I think I’ll have to try that someplace in my garden, it’s so attractive.

    Those artfully arranged pots of Bromeliads are charming, too. Stones and plants together please the eye.

  2. I miss summer already it was one of my best in a very long time. I love Autumn though! Happy Halloween!!

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