Friday, 22 June 2018

Taming the echeveria stream

The stream of echeveria elegans has grown slightly since it was first planted.

When is was planted back in 2014 it was almost just individual plants.  Then the great things about echeveria are the rate the spred.

It now takes up the whole space, and come spring it flowers more each year.  The plants also change colour over winter to add a bit more colour.

While the stream is now overflowing, it does mean all the rocks have been obscured.  So it was time to do a bit of clean up.  Here is is before:

The nice things about echeveria, is to sculpt the shape require, simply pull the unwanted plants away form the clump.

I would love to have another echeveria on the lower level, but the E. agavoides keeps rotting as this area is not covered at all.  I am toying filling it with aloe aristata. there would be some variation in colour and the flower season would be extended as just as the echeverias finish the aloes start.

Then there is the bonus of one or two spare plants.

I mayhave to extend the clump in the front to create a new stream where there is more space.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

The hardy aloes starting to flower

There are very few aloes that are hardy in the UK. A. striatula and A. Aristata are the two that seem hardy across larger parts of the Uk without needing any protection. Then A. polyphylla and A. saponaria in the warmer parts, or if given protection from the snow and rain. There are a few more people grow, but they seem to be much more variable.

So I grow all 4 in the garden and have had them all flower at different points, A. Polyphylla for the first time last year, but sadly not this year.  The rest are flowering better than ever. 

The photo above shows the largest clump of A. striatula. There are three clumps around the garden, all flowering and two, for once, aphid free.  You can see that it is rampant, and has turned my ordered, tidy succulent bed into more of a jungle.

There are two groups of A. aristata just out of the photo and several in pots.  I have them in pots so they can be moved to fill gaps, or placed next to other aloes in flower.

The A. saponaria I have is a variegated clump.  It started off as one plant, and is now a clump of variegated plants, some better than others. I am always surprised it survives each winter and then flowers. 

This years flower is the best to date. The flowers have good colour and are a decent size. In the morning sun it glows, the photo does not do it justice.

The bees are a bit unsure of the aloe flowers, they are finding out how to access them so seed pods have been few to date.  This year with everything flowering so well, it may be time to try some hybrids. I was thinking about which to try and remembered I already owned an A. aristata x A. striatula which is very disappointing in both looks and hardiness.   So it looks like it is going to be A. aristata x A. saponaria and A. strataula x A. saponaria instead.  To try and ensure the best success, I will be getting the paint brush out to help everything along. 

There are lots of other aloes in flower as well, mainly the smaller ones.  The only larger one in flower is no longer strictly an aloe, but kumara plicatilis. The flowers has lasted really well, holding their colour and not just opening and dieing with in a day or so.

Then you have the haworthias and the aloe x haworthis crosses, but that may have to be another year.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

You know what they say: never throw a succulent away.

So back from the usual winter off-line, a bit later than usual this year. There are good reasons not least an amazing long holiday in Cuba. An actual holiday, not work, or a short break between busy times. That is for another post, as a belated report on winter damage is required.

The London winter was long, wet and with several longer cold spells.  The main succulent bed was relatively unscaved and is already looking good again.

The main damage was not here but in the new mixed bed where I was testing an agave x-nigra and an aloe polyphylla.  I choose a great year to test them and stupidly didn't cover them at all.  The nigra is gone, the centre aloe polyphylla rotted.

The photo above was taken in April, I have been pulling out any loose leaves, and removing any sign of rot.  As you can see bellow, it does not look pretty.

So as the this post title suggests there is a general rule that you never throw a succulent away. I have tried before a propagation method called coring: you cut the growth point out and this forces offsets from the centre.  It tends to be used to propagate rare or variegated plants. Looking at the aloe, the similarities were obvious.

The aloe was not the only plant damaged like this.  The large bowl of variegated agave filifera

The core of the medium sized plant also rotted, so as with the aloe, it was a case of removing rot, damaged leaves and taking the centre back to a clean state.

So a month later and there are already signs of several new plants growing from the core.

As these develop the other leaves will slowly be removed to provide more space. This agave tends to clump, so it will be left to get on with it.

But I know you don't really care about he agave, what about the aloe polyphylla?

There are definitely signs of new growth which is really interesting.  I was kicking myself for not protecting the plant in the forcast bad weather, so a clump of aloe polyphyllas would be a far better result than I deserve. 

So yet again, that basic rule proves to be true.  Never throw a sucuelnt away!

Monday, 16 October 2017

When photo records fail.

It has not been the summer I expected.  Having started well, it got to mid July and the workshop floor was down, so the proper work on the garden restarted. Then I hurt my knee and had to spend 6 weeks not using it, strictly no gardening.  Then I had to go to Uganda for 2 weeks for work, followed by two lovely weeks in Spain (I come back to that in another post). Then got back to the UK and spent every weekend visiting friends or them visitnig us, and suddenly it is October!

So much to catch up on. Today I was cleaning up in the front garden and noticed how much the buttlers sink had filled out.

It was a mixture of left over plants, so a bit of test.  I love the little mound forming alpines and have been looking for some that give me the look I am after. These have grown much quicker than

I thought these were suppose to be slow. In my defence the one on the left was tiny when planted last year.  It will have to be moved next spring, I think I'll re-do the whole planter as I love this end, and the other is to diverse.

So having taken some photos, I come inside to check the plant names and nothing!  Normally when I do a planter like this, or any pot, I take a photo of the whole thing and each plant with the label.  Then if the label vanishes I have the photos for ID.  There is no chance I wouldn't have done it, I just didn't upload the photos.

I hate not knowing plant names. I sense there will be a few weeks of searching in the hope something turns up.

Monday, 17 July 2017


This week seems to be full of finds.

There was the lost and found. With the new bed, I moved the agapathus.  You know the feeling that you may have missed / lost a plant somewhere.  It seems I missed one.

Then the new find. Agave parryis have a reputation for offseting, so it was only a matter of time.  This is the main view of my two different agave parryis.

Looking down from behind them today noticed this

Thankfully the two forms are very different.

That pale blue colour and the orange spines are a give away that it's HK1684. As this is my favourite parryi form I am happy.

A surprise find.  We have been having a great summer, the succulents are loving it but someone is struggling to find somewhere cooler. 

She is not allowed on the flower beds, I may have to let her off this time.

Friday, 7 July 2017

It's all about aloe polyphyllas here

So the main event in the garden so far this summer has been the aloe polyphylla flower.

They are strange flowers, as it grows any lack of water on hot days results in it just flopping around. 

I kept a close eye on the bees to see if they found it and what other aloe flowers were in flower at the same time.  The aloe striatulas were flowering away and I brought a big pot of aloe aristata over from my parents.  They are moving and I agreed to look after the pot until they were settled, very convenient.

The orginal plan was to take some pollen to a friend house, but their flower was way behind mine, and the two did not overlap.  It shows how far ahead the rockery can get. So plan B, have as many flowering aloes around as possible, and hope the bees do their job and something is compatible. 

A long shot, but you never know.  Although now we do as look what I found.

Not exactly a massive seed pod harvest, but one is better tha none.  I'm out there each day checking on it.  The aloe aristatas also have a few seed pods, the aloe striatula still have flowers, so time will tell how many seed pods develop there.

The next stage is to see if any of the pods produce seeds.  Then a whole other set of fun.  To prepare I have also been trying to germinate a set of 50 aloe polyphylla seeds I purchased at the end of last summer. There is lots of information about germinating them by putting them in water, so this was the methd used.

After about 10 days half the seeds had germinated. By 20 days all but 4 had germinated which was amazing. They were potted up into groups and given my skill at killing seedlings I expected most not to make it.  One pot full succumbed within a few days, going from the water to soil obviously wasn't popular.  I hoped to maybe have 2 or 3 left to grow into plants.  So was pleasantly surprised to have managed to keep 12 alive in one pot and 4 in another.

They are almost past the danger stage, hopefully they will not be so susceptable to damping off or to drying out. I have great plans for a few more polyphyllas; one in the main succulent bed, a couple in the new bed by the workshop and then some on the planned green roof. There is probably space for a couple in the front as well.  Can you ever have too many?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Looking through old phots

We have bee looking for a photo to use on something, so looking through some of the old photos. So a quick set of eye candy for you.

 I have cut down the number of cacti in pots, but there was no doubt the flowers were spectacular

The other succulents don't let them have it all their own way and have a different type of beautful flower