Wednesday 25 August 2010

From South Africa to South London

(Photo by Thomas Schoch)
If I could have any garden at all it would be a South African aloe garden.  It was photos of these gardens and landscapes, in particular of Aloe Dichotoma, that really made me dream. Unfortunately apart from the climate, this monster wouldn't fit in my garden and so I had to set my  aspirations a bit lower.

Aloe Aristata
I started with Aloe Aristata, I would bet many people have this in their gardens without really clicking that it is an aloe. It does have the advantage of coping with winters without problems, but doesn't quite match my idea of dramatic impact plant.

Enter ebay which proved there were lots of lovely plants out there and that I was going to need a second job to get them.  While I did get a couple of small plants,  it was the discovery of a local nursery that really opened the flood gates.  It is a strange little place called Hare Hatch, and on arrival I was really not sure I was in the right place.  However entering into the main sales area I was greeted by a row of large aloes all in flower and tables of smaller ones.  It turns out the owner is an avid succulent collector and these were all plants he had grown himself and was now selling.  The collection was in a shocking state having been neglected for years, but this did mean it was being sold off cheap and I was a kid in a candy shop.

Aloe Zebrina
This Aloe Zebrina was one of the purchases and my first big plant.  It also marked the start of  the plants taking over the house as it lived in the house for 2 months until it had warmed up outside.  Thankfully I learnt that it will actually cope fine if I cover it with a cold frame every winter. Since then I have added about 30 varieties, and ventured into growing from seeds, but that is for anther post.

Aloe Pink Blush
Sadly every time I think I have all the aloes I want, I find a new one.  There is always a new hybrid being produced not to mention variegates. No doubt new purchases will be a feature of future posts.

Aloe Plicatilis
I've been good and not got an Aloe Dichotoma, although I did cave and get its baby bother Aloe Plicatilis, I should have a few years before it takes over the garden.

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