Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Seduced by Succulents

I have to admit that slowly but surely the lure of the carefree succulent is taking hold of me. Having killed season after season of potted plants on my deck, this year I'm investing in a charming assorment of succulents with the hope that I won't be sifting dead roots out of next year's pots once more.

I'm not quite sure why my potted garden suffers so. I had a tom-thumb phormium which was supposed to be really happy in a pot, and it rotted. The culinary sage I planted died within a month of being transplanted. I even did-in a Meyer lemon, granted it took nearly 5 years, but I finally killed it after finding the roots bound in compacted soil, then adding pearlite only to create a situation where the soil could hold no water. Ahhh, the art of over-compensation.

So, without further ado, here is a list of the succulents I'm enamored with at the moment, and a few other plants thrown in for added shape and texture (the composition is really what draws me here, though the plants on their own are lovely, it's the chunky angularity and richness of color that really grabs and holds me). Also that they are so slow growing, it's always a suprise to see them spreading out. Maybe I'm finally becoming a patient gardener.

Pot one:
Aeonium 'chocolate'
Sempervivum dwarf hen and chickens
Libertia peregrinans
Crassula 'Pagoda plant'

Pot two:
Echeveria 'copper roses'

Big Planter
Leucadendron salignum 'Summer-Red'
Crassula 'babies bracelet'
Sempervivum hen and chickens

Still to be planted:
Euphorbia rigida
Senecio 'kilimanjaro'
Echeveria (4 ea)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stolen Treasure

Why do people steal? What is it that would inspire someone to walk up and rip a plant from the ground and walk away? My husband says it's because the plant was beautiful. It was nice, I loved it in fact. But I didn't think it stood out enough for someone to covet it so. Besides, it wasn't a particularly valuable plant. Certainly not one to 'resell' like an ipod or something.

Perhaps it was basking in the glow of my love. However, I can't say I loved it when it first when into the ground. I was unsure about it, what it needed and how it would grow. It's color was what drew me to it. A dull red with green in the background. A nice contrast, I thought, to the rest of the green sedums and succulents I'd selected. I was not at all familiar with Echeveria. I am very familiar with them now and am a growing fan. Though not grown for their flowers, this particular Echeveria, which I think I've identified (post-filching) as a 'Black Prince' variety, would bloom in the autumn sunshine atop these fabulous red stalks with a star burst of small, slightly pendant, bright crimson blossoms. The first year one stalk grew, and I didn't know what to expect. I'd spent a fair amount of time pinching off the delicate, lacy white blossoms on the Crassula perlorata 'Tom Thumb' as they contrasted badly with the simple geometric oddity of this cute little succulent. (I think flowers that don't match their foliage or plant structure is a topic I'll have to deal with at another time) I was expecting to do the same for the Echeveria, until it finally bloomed and I was blown away.

Granted, this is a small, little bed. But it's right out front and I pass it on the way into and out of the house several times a day. I just loved the sight of the bloom, it had a certain other-worldly quality. This year as the plant settled in, three stalks grew and the aphids only got a few of the blooms before I wiped them away. It certainly was the star, but not at the time it was plant-knapped. I wonder why they've not touched the Aeonium, or the other Echeveria. In fact I now inspect the bed regularly, almost counting the plants to ensure nothing else is missing. The phormiums in the back are diseased. But those are actually expensive, at least thirty bucks a piece. Perhaps the thief knew enough not to trifle with a sick plant.

By the time the plant was taken, I'd pinched off the dried up blooms and all that was left were the stalks. The plant had a couple of chicks starting to grow along side it as well, all gone in an instant. Now the question becomes 'do I replant'? Will I just be inviting a serial filcher to rob me again?