Monday, 22 September 2014

How do you know your plants have taken to their new homes.

It has been a couple of months since the succulent rockery was planted up. It's been interesting watching which plants settled straight in and which have taken they time. There are two obvious signs that the plants are happy. Firstly they offset.

The largest agave bracteosa has pupped prolifically, so much so I have to remove most of them or they will take over.

The other sign is they flower.

The campanula carpatica alba have continued to flower all year.

They offset

Aloe Aristrata
and they flower

Drosanthemum hispidum
If they are not offsetting, they are sending out new stems / branches

Aloe striatula sending out lots of new stems

And yes they flower.
The cacti not wanting to be left out

And offset

And flower

Lampranthus roseus, is going to need taming if it survives the winter
Even the last few plants in pots have been getting in on the act, you have to love the determination some agaves show,

This agave parryi is sending out pups through the holes in the bottom of the pot.

So far so good then with the main rockery, although the real test is going to be the first winter.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Echeveria afterglow is my favourite plant in the garden this week.

There always seems to be at least one echeveria in the garden looking good.  This one has to be up there with the most luminous of the lot. 

The leaves are covered in a fine bloom, which gives the leaves a blue colour. Unlike some of the blue / white plants this one has a pink edge to the leaves and when sun catches the leaves the plant glows.

It is a really fast grower and forms rosettes of 30 - 50cm across.  I had been looking for this plant for a couple of years when I visited a friends house to find he was using them as bedding plants all around his garden.   It turns out he dug up two plants each autumn, potted them up and then cut the tops off. By spring each of the bases had formed 4 - 6 offsets, which he split and managed to grow to around 40cm by the end of the summer and starting again. After that I started doing the same and worrying a lot less about them and the plants dig much better.

It warrants favourite plant this week as it is flowering nicely.  For echeverias, e. afterglow has larger flowers which are covered in the same bloom as the leaves. 

Sadly it is right on the verge of being hardy for me, surviving down to -6C (20F), this really challenges it, so if we have a cold winter it dies. Kept dry though it has coped with -9C without too many problems.  Being such a quick grower, if if does get damaged new growth soon replaces the old leaves. 

So there you have echeveria afterglow my favourite plant in the garden this week. Head over Danger Garden to see what others have selected.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Agave parryi HK 1684 is my belated favourite plant in the garden right now.

Having been away, no doubt a few photos to follow, I missed last weeks favourite plant post. Looking around the garden, one plant is currently standing out so much, it deserved a belated post.  It also seems quite topical as in a recent post on the great Piece of Eden blog, Hoover showed some of her amazing agave collection one of which was agave parryi truncata, which was glowing. (You can find her post here).

So the plant screaming for attention right now is my agave parryi HK 1684.

I've had this plant for about 5 years now, it is definitely not one of the quick forms. Collected by Horst Kunzleras it has to be one if not the best form of parryi.  Like truncata it is very pale in colour and a compact grower, at least as far as I know.  Slightly narrower leaves than the truncata, but those spines make up for it.

It's usually best known for having almost black spine, which set off the blue leaves perfectly. However every now and then the spines put on a show of their own and you get an array of colours from black through to yellow.

Being a parryi it has good hardiness, although with the slow growth rate any marks really do take years to grow out.  It comes true from seeds, which seem to be fairly readily available if you can not find the plant itself.  Seeds would also give you a chance to have multiple plants as in line with the unspoken rule, mentioned in my last post found here, it is not only slow to grow but also to offset. In all the years I have had it, there has only been one pup.

So if you already have truncata, go out and find HK 1684 and decide for yourself which you like best.

In the mean time, head over to Danger Garden to see Loree's and others favourite plants for last week.

Monday, 1 September 2014

This aloe grows like a weed.

It seems to be an unspoken rule that plants you want to branch or offset don't, while those that you are less interested in spread quickly.  Aloes seem no different, and a. spinosissima variegata is definitely in the weed category.

This was it when purchased a couple of years ago, interesting but doesn't really stand out.  I hoped the variegation would get stronger in time, instead the plant offset.

And offset.

By now it was such a mess, even if any of the plants did have good variegation you couldn't tell.  So time to cut it up.

I couldn't decide how many to leave, in the end I went for the two largest plants and we'll see what happens.  Looking at it now, it probably would have been better as a single plant.

Cutting it up also provided a few spares.

The best variegated plant was pulled out as well, hopefully this one will continue to develop variegation where the others have failed.

If you need more proof of its weed-like status looking at the large plants today:

They could be roots, but looking closely the largest are already facing up and split to show what I think are the first leaves.

Now if only I could get my aloe purple flush to offset like this.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The echeveria blues (and whites)

There is such a range of colours available in leaves, the stand out has to be the blue / white you get when bloom covers the leaves. In some plants it is more subtle

This echeveria Lau 165 is one of my favourites right now, it has formed such a tight clump that the size of the individual plants is much smaller than you would normally find. It has been repotted as it was overflowing the last one.  Hopefully it should fill the new pot in no time and has deliberately been planted slightly off centre to allow it to continue to grow over the edge.

Another pale echeveria is e. cuspidata var zaragoza.

It has been painfully slow to get going  but has finally started to form a good clump.

It is a very delicate little echeveria, the combination of the pale blue leaves with pink tips is great.

Then there are the very white plants which require "Do not touch" signs hung all around them.  The best are plants like e. cante, e. laui. One you see less often is e. John Catlin. 

Sadly you never see this plant for sale any more. Instead some of the American plants are making it over. This one is e. Mexican Giant

It is one of the new purchases this year. It is just getting started and looks really promising, the colour and leaf shape are great and if it lives up to its "giant" name then it may well become my favourite white echeverias.

Some of the other blue/white echeverias proving interesting at the moment are the cristates. 

This echeveria FO48 cristate is the more commonly seen crest shape. There are a few non-cristate heads on the left hand side which I really ought to remove to keep it growing properly.

A much more dramatic plant is the echeveria runyonii cv ' Topsy Turvy'  cristate.

It is not the best white colour, but the shape make it stand out.  It is rare to find cristate plants that are domed. This one is not perfect yet, but it is getting there.  I have left the normal heads on in some places and cut off others to encourage growth. I also have it growing where one side is dark to get different growth rates. So far it seems to be working and who knows I may manage to get my perfect dome cristate plant.

You can never have too many white plants in your collection, just keep those grubbing fingers off.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Things not going according to plan with aloe ramosissima

A small branching aloe for people without space for the larger tree aloes. Although small is a relative term, this is not a dwarf aloe, it can get big. It first made the wants list having seen a lovely one at Kew Gardens.

You know that "small" term, it is not a big for this aloe being only about 1.5m across.  Having seen Kew's plant, it was only a matter of time until I bought it.

It all started well, with the plant branching nicely and showing real promise. At this point I thought I would plant it in a bonsai pot in the hope of keeping it small and displaying it nicely.

It looked great and for a short time everything was going according to plan. Looking back planting it in such a small pot, knowing my lack of watering, was a mistake and where everything went wrong.  Instead of getting the lovely branching bushy plant, it got leggy with few leaves. Today I decided to sort it out and think about what next. The old leaves were stripped off and while not an attractive plant it is interesting.

The lack of leaves is probably due to drying out, most likely with better watering and some food, these will return to being more leafy.  What was most interesting was how smooth the trunks are.

With the old leaves removed, the trunks are silky smooth and have an almost translucent look.

In the end the trunk made me hesitant to reach for the scissors.  No doubt I could cut off each head and plant them up to start again. Normally I would not have hesitated, but the plant looks so odd, it is almost appealing.

Ok so maybe not appealing, more of an oddity, I now want to see what happens with a bit of care. Ultimately it will probably end up being cut up, but there is no rush, lets wait and see what happens.