We grow dozens of succulents especially aeoniums and echeverias. We love them because they give us wonderful variations in foliage, texture, colour, pattern and shape, but they all will throw up a flower spike on occasion. This week we suddenly had a few flowering all at once, so enjoy my photos!
My August entries in my Garden Journal 2016 see me beginning Volume Two. On the first page I look back to my original garden journal’s August entries.
“I made my first ever entries for our new garden in August 2003. We moved to “Avocet” our Plealey home on 8th August. I wrote, “The garden needs our love and attention after 6 years of neglect. It is a garden of straight lines and loneliness, lacking in wildlife and its inherent vitality. It lacks colour.” Things are very different now 13 years later. The garden is now full of wildlife, full of calming atmosphere and peace. It is a garden that attracts many visitors each year and people enjoy hearing our talks about it.”
Over the page I considered the way light in August changes the look of the garden.
“On bright days in August the garden looks very different depending on the time of day. When the sun is at its highest point in the sky the hot colours really burn and shadows deepen to jet black.
I then looked at Salvias and share photographs of some of those we are growing in our patch.
“Every few years I like to set myself a challenge in our Plealey garden. For the last few years I have been trying to master growing and keeping Aeoniums. This is coming along well now so for this summer my new challenge is to discover lots of beautiful varieties of Salvias and learn how to grow them well. We already have a large collection so the next part of this challenge will be over-wintering them. These three (in the photos below) show the vast range of colours available from the deepest blue, the brightest pink to the gentlest of yellows.”
On the opposite page I featured a selection of eight of the Salvias in flower in our patch in August. I have included a couple more here too for you to enjoy and to help us appreciate the variety we have.
I move on in my journal then to look at very special and very unusual perennial plant, a Diascia. On the page opposite I share a few of our new sculptural pieces in the garden.
“One plant that always attracts admiring glances is this pink gentle giant, an evergreen Diascia, which is called D. personata “Hopleys”. It is an exceptionally good garden performer, growing to a tall six feet and flowering from May to December in a good year.”
“We love sculpture in the garden and in our patch”Avocet” in Plealey we mostly choose metal or stoneware pieces as these enhance the planting rather that dominate. Recently we have added four new new iron work pieces, two based on seed heads – Clematis and Allium – plus a new bird bath.”
Here are three of them, the fourth appears later.
I then move on to one of the brightest of garden perennials to grace borders in the UK, the Crocosmias.
“Various Crocosmias feature throughout the patch and in August many come into their own, showing off their yellows, oranges and reds. We have dozens of different varieties. Here are a few ……….. “
Firstly the yellows ………….
…………………….. and then the oranges and reds.
Returning to the sculptural pieces we have recently added to our garden collection, I introduced another 5 pieces.
“Two new bird sculptures joined us too, one metal, a Wren, and one ceramic, a Blue Tit. The Blue Tit piece doubles up as a planter for some of our many Sempervivum, as does our chestnut shell sculpture.”
“A Begonia Rex adds colour, shape and texture to our stoneware Green Man planter, one of a pair.”
“The moon-gazing Hare.”
“We grow many different Echeveria in terra-cotta pots and pans in the Rill Garden and on our drive edge. These mostly have glaucous leaves and produce flowers of subtle blends of pink, salmon and orange. Recently we acquired a new variety with almost black succulent foliage, Echeveria “Black Prince”. Imagine our delight when it gave us these beautiful red flowers.”
“For this month I have decided to paint two delicately coloured flowers, a yellow Linaria dalmatica and the china blue climber and scrambler Clematis jouianiana.
On the opposite page I finish off my entries for August by looking at some of our newly acquired plants.
“We are always adding new plants to the garden at Avocet and indeed a few found their way in during August. Here is a selection ………. “
“New Honeysuckles to clamber up our new willow hurdles.”
“A white Physostegia to accompany our pink one.”
“Crocosmia “Okavango” and “Salvia leucantha “Eder”.
And there ends my journal entries for the month of August. Our next visit to look at it will be in September a month that the meteorological office places in autumn but us gardeners tag it onto summer – a much better and more accurate idea. We move into a much quieter period now as we have completed our NGS open days for this year and have received the last of our visiting groups.
Just as I completed my journal for June I realised that I had not yet posted “My Garden Journal for May”, so here it is now for you to enjoy! The June journal report won’t be far behind!
Summer creeping in can only mean that our May garden is changing by the day. Exuberance in every border with things growing before your eyes. A month of excitement! I began my May entry in my garden journal by writing,
“May means exuberance! It is the month when our garden shows us the ability it has to surprise. It shows off its strength and its artistic talents. Growth is so rapid and colour so exciting, that we are aware of what our garden means to us and also aware of its power that Mother Nature possesses and uses with pride and to excess!”
I then turn to looking back at my original garden journey recording the first few years that we have lived and gardened at Avocet.
“Looking back in my garden journal that recorded the early years at Avocet, I read a paragraph that shows just how similar May is now.
“The garden is bursting with life – butterflies including Holly Blues, bees and so many birds. Suddenly the garden is alive with birds giving extra colour, sound and movement. There seems to be so many finches – Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. Swifts, Swallows and House Martins swoop overhead especially in the evening.”
Sadly though there are far fewer Swifts, Swallows and House Martins overhead. So many have not survived their long migrations. What does the future hold for these beautiful acrobats?”
Turning over the page of my journal and we see the next two pages feature Acers and Roses.
“Acers are one of the many stars of the May garden, a month when their foliage and stems are delicate and colourful.”
“May means Roses and by the middle of the month we have many buds and pioneer blooms. Reds and pinks dominate at the moment. Yellows and oranges are still to come.”
I moved on to look at one of the climbers we enjoy in our garden and at the grasses that have now started to grow rapidly.
“Think of climbers early in the summer garden and Clematis is the first plant to spring to mind.”
“Grasses are growing quickly now and the myriad shades of green move skyward in our borders.”
Turning over again and succulents are discussed. These are a recent interest and I have only been growing them and propagating them for a few years.
Succulent plants are an interest that has grown over the last few years. Beginning with Aeoniums and Echeverias I soon branched out.”
“Troughs of succulents grace the Rill Garden in May and on into October when the risk of frost mean that they retreat to the warmth of our greenhouse.”
When we turn over next we see that I talk of Hostas and in particular those growing in our Bog Garden. The bog garden is so full of life at the moment with plants growing appreciably by the day.
“Hostas are one of the more subtle of our garden favourites both their foliage and later in the year their flowers. The Bog Garden next to our Wildlife Pond and snuggled up to it is a place of rapid growth in May.”
White is not a colour I particularly appreciate in the garden and as a result I do not use it much.
“White is not my favourite colour in the garden. I particularly do not like white painted garden furniture or white painted fences, trellises or walls. We tend to paint our seats in ivory or cream which are much softer colours particularly on bright sunny days. Our fences we paint in browns and trellis work in gentle shades of green which acts as a great foil for our plants. I think this dislike of white is to do with our weather as it can work so well in other countries. Where flowers are concerned I appreciate them most in May when white can look good with the brightness of fresh foliage. Below are photos of a few particularly good white flowers, Viburnums, Cornus, white Bluebells, Iberis and Camassias. Some of these are the purest of white where others have gentle hints of colour. The Camassia has a green tint to it and the Iberis the gentlest hint of pink.”
As we leave May behind we can look forward to the longest day, the time when day and night share equal number of hours.
I have a special interest in succulents and have grown a good selection over the last few years. My interest in them has been a recent one and began with the purchase of an Aeonium arboreum Schwarzkopf which we nurtured for a year and it began to become tree-like. A couple of Echeveria joined in and I haven’t looked back. In this post I shall include some cacti as well for fans of those spiky cousins.
At a recent visit to Winterbourne House Botanical Gardens in Birmingham we discovered a greenhouse full of succulents. After a look at what the displays outside had to offer, things began to look promising.
I decided to concentrate on the textures, patterns and colours of their fleshy leaves. Enjoy my gallery of succulent pics.
When we paid a visit to Ashwood Nurseries recently I was taken with the raised bed displays either side of the entrance as they were mostly planted up with succulents, including several Aeoniums and Echeverias. So here is a gallery of shots all taken in the raised beds.
It is always good to have little projects to get on with in the garden. My latest little project was to create a pair of succulent pots. We already have pots of succulents dotted or hopefully arranged around our Rill Garden. Here we feature several different Aeoniums, Echeverias and Sempervivum. They grow happily here because it is south facing and gets extra light reflected off the glass of our garden room.
We thought it about time we introduced some more succulents for added interest for our garden visitors on our open days, so bought a pair of beautifully shaped terracotta bowl-shaped pots and went off to our local nursery, Love Plants, to get an interesting selection of different succulents. We looked for different leaf colours, textures and shapes. A few had the bonus of brightly coloured flowers too. They have such wonderful names too – much too difficult to remember, Oscularia deltoides, Sempervivum jovibarba alionii, Echeveria elegans, Pachyphytum “Dark Red”, Pachyphytum bracteosum and Sedum x rubrotinctum.
So we gathered together everything we needed on the table in the Rill Garden and got to work.
We mixed up a suitable growing medium by combining equal quantities of a soil based compost and horticultural grit. We hoped this would be free draining while just holding enough moisture to keep the plants happy.
We then covered the drainage hole with crocks and added a shallow layer of my compost mix, ready to arrange the plants to their best advantage.
Some of the plants we put in the pots were our own cuttings. The picture on the left shows how new plants have grown from leaf cuttings. The plant on the right was grown from an offset.
Once satisfied with the arrangement we filled in between the plants with the compost mixture and topped it off with a mulch of horticultural grit.
Whenever you deal with succulents bits fall off and each bit can become a cutting. Other pieces we deliberately took as cutting material.
The photo below shows a leaf cutting taken from an Echeveria which is now forming tiny plants at its base. This is an easy way to make new plants albeit rather slow. It is a process requiring a lot of patience but not much skill.
And here they are in situ, alongside our rill, our new succulent planters.
More impulse buying! Plants again but not from our usual places of temptation, nurseries and garden centres. On recent visit to Ikea to buy curtains and cushions we discovered some succulents being sold as house plants. As we already have a selection of Aeoniums and Echeveria which we grow outside in pots in “The Rill Garden” in the warmer months and overwinter them in the cool end of the greenhouse, we imagined a couple of these would be useful and colourful additions. So we bought seven! Typical gardeners’ impulse buying!
They make a pretty colourful bunch!
These are the three Crassula we bought, with their slightly curled, glaucous leaves subtly edged in red.
This Crassula sports mahogany tinted leaves which are shiny and rounded, in fact almost tubular.
This close-up view of the Echeveria illustrates its metallic, pinky purple flattened succulent leaves.
The Haworthia is almost like a clump of tiny Aloe, its grass-green leaves spiky with tiny saw-tooth ends.
So we now await warmer, sunnier days when we can plant our new succulents in pots outside and see how they fare.