Towering Succulents in our Church Courtyard

The lovely tall succulents around our campus are Blue Flame Agaves. Many were planted in 2008 when we landscaped the courtyard, though they have been thinned out as they grew. The impressive flower spikes can grow to 22 feet high. The Blue Flame Agave plant is very drought-tolerant and long-lived, and a favorite for landscape use in our area.

Our landscape design was prepared in 2007 as a donation to the church by member and Landscape Architect Keith Ludowitz. The design features many drought-tolerant plants like the Blue Flame Agave, Agave shawii x attentuata. This plant’s flamelike leaves, along with planters in front of the cottage that resemble stone chalices, bring to mind the flaming chalice symbol of our religion.

The entire courtyard is paved in permeable pavers which allow rainwater to percolate down into a reservoir beneath the courtyard and eventually back into the groundwater so that the stormwater system is not overwhelmed, which would result in pollutants being swept into the ocean. We received a grant from the City of Santa Monica to incorporate these green features, which helped offset the extra cost. The reservoir is sized to offset a Religious Education building which the City approved to be built where the parking area and shade structure are now. However, during the 2008 recession, the Board decided not to proceed. Instead, Forbes Hall was remodeled.

Blue Flame Agave

Agave shawii x attenuata ‘Blue Flame’, is a highly sought after succulent that works well in any landscape setting. These soft-edged agaves grow in a clumping pattern with tight rosettes of blue foliage that appears almost flamelike in its growth habits. These agaves are not only a great drought tolerant water-wise choice but they are also considered to be fire-wise. Slower growing than most agave species, these are long-lived agaves that add color and beauty even when planted in pots.

Growing in their native Mexico, these plants are well adapted to many different soil and weather conditions and this makes them great to be planted in any Southern California landscape.

The next time you are in the church courtyard, take a moment to enjoy our majestic Blue Flame Agave and other carefully chosen plants and features.



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