One of the joys of gardening in a temperate climate like Adelaide’s is the ability to grow a range of plants that were sadly missing all through my days in Calcutta, Brisbane and Darwin. These are the succulents, a group of plants that have generally adapted to living and flourishing in the parts of the world with high temperatures and low precipitation or rain. Cacti are succulents, as are some xerophytes or plants that have adapted to less moisture. Try as you might, unless you are Debra Lee Baldwin, it is quite difficult to keep succulents alive for a great length of time in the three cities named above. At least that was the way it was for me.
But Adelaide has given me a chance to grow and love succulents. To the point of now being mildly obsessed by them. The geometric shapes, the muted greys, blues and greens, the magical flowers – all these are but some of the reasons I now know my echeverias from my sempervivums and my jovibarbas from my aeoniums. They fit into my preferred palette of colours, grow slowly and are well suited to the climate we have.
So, without further ado, here are a few of my favourite succulents; some are growing in our garden, and a couple are from gardens I have visited. I hope you enjoy them!
The succulent wreath in the slideshow is a display from Hillside Herbs and the succulent wall art is from Sophie Thompson’s open garden in Mount Barker that I visited last weekend.
I know, that was too short! But there is more. There will be more, but in the next post. Till then, happy gardening.
So many plants and flowers have patterns and colours that the garden is never short of something interesting to look at. Some may lack bright pinks and purples but they compensate by having the most wonderfully geometric patterns and textures if one looks closely enough. Have a look at some of these!
A Flanders poppy in bud and then fully unfurled to reveal a sheen like silk and the most incredible boss of stamens!
Succulents such as Aeonium have colourful fleshy leaves arranged geometrically.
The herbs are not to be left behind either. Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis, has insignificant white flowers but its leaves are beautifully veined and shaped.
Lemon balm leaves
Another succulent which is strikingly patterned is the Haworthia. Members of the lily family, they are from South Africa and are commonly called Zebra plants. The colour is brightest in strong sunlit positions.
Then there are of course the real flowers, the parts of the flower that are meant to assist the plant in propagation. Some of these are highly coloured and unusual and none more so in my garden than the flowers of the passion fruit vine. They have been called passion flowers as they are thought to illustrate the passion of Christ; the pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance, the tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ, the ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (excluding St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot).The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail. The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).The blue and white colors of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.
The end stage of the plant is the seed head. These are often weirdly and wonderfully shaped. The poppy seeds we put on cakes and breads are held inside the seed cases below.
Pepper pot seed heads of poppy Papaver