Monday, 9 June 2014

Simply Superb Sempervivums

When I was  a child I was introduced to gardening by my grandmother. My nana loved flowers, pansies, hydrangeas, bulbs and lavender. She was a traditional cottage garderner in many ways. I loved her colourful displays on the farm in Lilydale, at her home in Mornington on the Eastern Shore of Hobart, and her last garden, the one she managed at our own house, where she lived with us until she died.

My mother is also a gardener. I used to bemoan her style, foliage over flowers, creating interesting and stunning displays, a lover of wild natives, and of foliage, flowers too, but always a concentration on green. It made me laugh the other day when my husband complained of my own garden "it's lovely but it is rather green". In my defence I do have plenty of colour in the front garden, and in pots around the back. But yes, I have inherited the love of form, texture and shades of green.

I bought a few rock garden plants two years ago. They all did rather well, but I was particularly intrigued with Sempervivums. I hadn't really come across them before, and hanging out in the alpine section, there they were. They looked lovely in my rock garden, I had two. And I was happy.

Until my old friend but foe Pinterest. I did a search for Sempervivums and found some amazing ways of using them. You can see my board here. And now, yes, I have discovered the love of foliage, of creating interest with things that aren't known for their flowers.

I discovered a use for strawberry pots. I had a pot that was never that great at strawberries, the cups are too deep, the top too wide. The drainage isn't right for strawberries, being too flat the water goes through too quickly. I found a new purpose for it.

Imagine my delight when on our recent trip to Germany I discovered that sempervivums are all the rage there and picked up 10 for just 99 cents each! And the lovely thing about sempervivums is true to their US name of Hen and Chicks, they keep on giving, you can easily divide and replant the darlings.

If you think you have brown thumbs, try Sempervivums. They tolerate full sun and don't mind a bit of shade, in fact they need a bit. They don't like to be overwatered. I never water mind. They do like good drainage, however we have pretty heavy soil and they don't root deep, so plenty of light compost and gravel when you plant and they are happy. They keep having babies, and you can separate them off and replant them when you need to.

They are the most intriguing little plants, forgiving, easy to care for, and fascinating to grow. Ideal for little fingers too! Have a look at my boards and perhaps choose some sempervivum projects for summer!

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