I am somewhat
bemused / confused / irritated by all the focus on the warm weather this month. It is after all summer! OK in the past decade our summers have been a bit of a wash-out, but let’s not forget that we have had sunny summers before. Maybe not with such high temperatures for so many consecutive days I agree, but I for one am happy to see the sun beaming down on me every morning instead of dull grey skies. Only a year or two ago we were being informed by the ‘experts’ that our winters would become milder and wetter and our summers would become, oh yes, milder and wetter and we should expect a lot more flooding – in fact we probably would live in permanent mildness and wetness and future generations would be born with webbed feet! Not a happy thought. Now they have switched to hotter summers, on the basis of what? One hot summer every 10 years? Anyway, after Mad March and snow in Cornwall I was beginning to think that my thoughts of Mediterranean planting were over optimistic and started redesigning my planting based on moisture loving plants and hardy ones at that. Hardy, S&S resistant, moisture-loving. Sorted.
Or am I?
Having had an idea to plant my (black plastic) raised beds in the ‘Gravel Garden’ with bee and butterfly loving perennials and based on my new desire to create a purple bed, I came up with the idea to plant the outside edges with Sempervivum so as to hide the plastic. Tough little plants that can multiply and spread into the gravel. They hate having wet feet though, so I need to plant them in loads of grit and hope for the best. So with no further ado let me introduce you to (some of) my new succulent collection and a few oldies.
- Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ – quite a popular plant in recent years and I have had this for about 12 years in one form or another. The original plant grew so long and leggy that I eventually cut off the rosette and replanted it, hoping that it would grow, and cut the stem into 3″ pieces and planted those too. Unfortunately it was a wet winter and all the stem pieces died. The rosette continued to grow though and again became leggy. Repeat. This time with more success as I now had a conservatory in which to overwinter them and from one plant I now have four – all with several rosettes. I may need to repeat this again with one of them soon.
- Another oldie, this is a Crassula ovata otherwise known as the Jade tree, friendship tree, lucky plant, money plant or money tree. From South Africa where it grows happily outside, it is another plant which dislikes having wet feet in winter, so I bring it indoors. A cool conservatory is fine. It has a thick multi-branched stem (trunk) with short stubby branches and can produce pale pink or white flowers. Bought for me as a tiny plant years ago by my eldest grandson, it has yet to flower, but I live in hope. A large branch fell off last summer, so I planted bits into pots and now have four other Jade trees growing. I am beginning to realise through writing these weekly posts just how many of my plants have associations with family members.
- Echeveria is a large genus of succulent plants in the Crassulaceae family, native to semi-desert areas of Central America. I think this is ‘Purple Pearl’ an attractive, evergreen succulent, forming a large rosette up to 12 inches (30 cm) across, of fleshy, slightly rounded, pointed, olive-green to lavender-rose leaves adorned with pink edges. The more sun, the more colour you get. It sends up to 1 feet (30 cm) tall flowering spikes of coral pink flowers in summer. I can’t say the flowers are very exciting.
- Now we come to the newcomers, first off is Aptenia cordifolia ‘Variegata’ with common names Variegated Heartleaf Ice Plant, Variegated Baby Sun Rose, Variegated Ice Plant. This is a nice trailing succulent plant that is perfect for baskets, planters and troughs. The smooth green and cream, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) long, heart-shaped leaves are speckled with magenta blooms in the summer and autumn. This one is planted in my Belfast sink and has yet to flower.
- Another new Sempervivum is jovibarba allionii . Sempervivums (houseleeks, hens and chickens) will grow almost without soil and water and thrive in cracks and rock crevices. I love the Fibonacci spiral of this rosette.
- And the last is nameless. I seem to have lost the label for this one! Another Sempervivum with lovely blushing-red hairy leaves
NB: I was being facetious about the webbed feet.
See here for the participant’s guide.