Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Succulent Feast



We have had a week of school holidays, which for me means a week of ferrying Rosy to dance competitions. Luckily it is only a five minute drive, or actually, a three minute drive and ten minute walk, because I believe in stopping just where the free parking does... We need all that fresh air and sunshine due to spending hours in a dark theatre. For a week I get to grab a slice of bread and butter and maybe an apple in between the taxiing. The house slowly disappears under a layer of dust and grime, and the other children live on what they can find, or they bake cupcakes.

So when I finally had a day at home today, I ignored inside, and decided to tackle outside so I could absorb some Vitamin D and not get ricketts. It was all a bit overwhelming though, because Spring has definitely sprung, and everywhere I look there are jobs to do. In the end I decided to go with my trusty technique for cleaning the house when I've been skipping the boring bits for too long, that is, start at one end and just keep going, dealing with absolutely everything as I go, until I fall over from exhaustion or one of the children requires first aid.

I started at one end of the courtyard and pulled out weeds from between the pavers, and washed grimy windows, and brushed out cobwebs, then I came to a bag of bits of succulents that I had brought home from our trip to Bruny Island a couple of weeks ago. Bruny has cottages along the beach with banks of naturalised echiums and succulents cascading down to the sand in wild profusion. I had never imagined that aeoniums had flowers, but here they are, with hundreds of daisy-like, yellow blooms.



I knew that all of these succulents wanted to come home with me, but I was very cruel, and chose only a select few.  I filled a plastic shopping bag with cuttings, then brought them home and stuck them under the table in the courtyard until today. Let me assure you that I am not intentionally mean to plants. I almost always take good care of them and water and feed them, but I think it is only fair to let them know, right from the start, that if they are not tough enough to withstand two weeks in a plastic bag before planting, then they probably won't find life in my garden super enjoyable. Luckily, succulents enjoy tough love. So I emptied them all onto the paving, echiveriums, blue chalk sticks, pig face, aeoniums, and that big grey one whose name I can't recall, we'll call it elephant ears.



Also luckily, the first instruction in gardening manuals for transplanting succulents, is to leave them for twenty four hours to develop a callus on the stem cut to prevent rotting. Two weeks also works. Really, this gardening job couldn't be easier or more fun. I chose pots from my stash, stuck a bit of broken pot over the drainage hole, filled with potting mix, stuck the cuttings in artistically, then mulched with white gravel from the front path. Pretty, pretty.

 
 
 
The bird house is a school project by Rosy. One thing I have discovered about succulents in pots - all mine seem to like having water in their saucers to slowly wick back into the pots. This may be because they are positioned to catch the fierce afternoon sun, but they seem quite happy, and it keeps the table dry. The tiny pots are citronella candle pots. They don't even have drainage holes, I just don't water them as often. These plantings would be about a year old, and are thriving and reproducing, against all the gardening advice I have ever heard...
 

 
The tiny blue pot is from The Girl's brief foray into bonsai when she was ten. There was a potted succulent I really liked at our holiday rental, so I took just two little leaves from it, which I am hoping will magically increase into whole plants. Succulents mostly do that..

Well, I have now advanced about eight feet into my Spring garden jobs. Hope all your garden work is going just as splendidly!

4 comments:

Left-Handed Housewife said...

My garden work is consisting of tearing the garden down, sad to say. Not all of it, just the parts that have peaked. I'm excited that it's almost cool enough to grow lettuce. The bagged stuff I'm eating now is such a sad substitute.

Love your succulents!

frances

Jo said...

Each season to its own fun! There is a certain satisfaction in ripping out the summer garden. Enjoy your lettuces!

GretchenJoanna said...

Oh, my, what a labor of love you have been working at. I know it to be very hard to be away from one's garden in springtime...
The succulents - I love them and the way you have potted them up. Not infrequently I get a cutting from someone, and usually I put it on the windowsill where it waits and waits...Recently I left several Thanksgiving cactus leaves on my dining table for about a month. By the time I planted them they already were sending out little roots, so I imagine - tho I'm not home to check - that they are doing fine with whatever water my husband has sprinkled their way.
Aeoniums are one of the types one friend has given me and I have them by the front door. Finally I realized that succulents are the *only* thing to put where there is sometimes too much sun, sometimes not enough, and where it's rare anyone thinks to put the hose on.

Jo said...

Absolutely - these get no sun in the morning, too much in the afternoon, and not enough TLC - no other plant would put up with such conditions! Thankfully they haven't unionized yet..

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