About me

About me
🌿 I've been gardening ever since a child, when I spent time with my father in his vegetable garden. But my fascination with Echeverias started in the 1980's, when my father gave me a pot with five Echeverias, which turned out to be E. imbricata. At first I wasn't much interested in them and planted them in some obscure corner of the garden and completely forgot about them. How great was my surprise when, a couple of months later, I noticed that they had spread and made a beautiful display - I was hooked!
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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Starting over

Aloe ferox youngsters in my garden having survived another winter

Have you ever jumped the gun and then regretted it afterwards? Well, that's what happened to me! A couple of months ago we were in the process of selling our smallholding, something we've been thinking of for a couple of years now, planning retirement and all that, and apart from having to have a massive clean-up of all the stuff one accumulates over 38 years of living in one place, one of my biggest worries was all my succulents - those in the garden were OK, but I had dozens of succulents and cacti in pots and it was impossible for me to take all of them with me. After a short search I was lucky and blessed enough to find another succulent-lover who was thrilled to take all of them off my hands.

Now, here's the thing - the sale fell through! (Much to my relief, I must say, as in the process of selling we suddenly realised what we are leaving behind and we fell in love with our life and our smallholding all over again! One doesn't realise what you have until you lose it, or almost lose it, right?)

This new planting was just coming along nicely and the Aeoniums on the left were some of my favourites.

This Echeveria elegans was also just starting to flower for the first time in in about the 4 years I had it

Another first, this Haworthia cooperii var Transiensis was also pushing up it's first tiny little flowers

My only consolation is that I still have a few succulents and cacti left in the garden and it would be easy to take cuttings and start a new collection. But here's the question : do I want to start another potted collection again? At first, after they were all gone, I felt empty and lost, no daily routine of checking up on all of them, spotting new growth and new flowers and softly chatting to each and every one. All their small watering cans are standing empty, calling out for something to water.

But on the other hand, it's also very liberating to not constantly be worried about them and rushing outside to bring them under cover every time it starts hailing. So, for now, I'll be chatting to all my succulents and cacti in the ground in the garden, checking on them daily and giving them some special attention!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A wonder of nature - rain and hail

Nature and her bounty is a wonderful thing. My garden, and the succulents in particular, have benefited greatly from all the rain we've been having. The Echverias (E. imbricata) absolutely love all the water (provided there is good drainage) and they have turned into saucer-sized (a big one!) beauties!

However, as bountiful as she gives, she can also take. We've been having extreme hail storms over the past couple of months and although most of my succulents suffered no damage at all and really seemed to thrive afterwards, the tender (huge!) Echeverias bore the brunt of all that pummelling. Some of the hail stones were as big as golf balls.

Hail damage to my Echeverias (E. imbricata)

Shortly after all the hail, just about all the succulents started flowering profusely, making for a wonderful display.

Echinopsis cactus flowers

Epiphyllum crenatum (Litroos)

Mammilleria Cactus Flowers

Rattail cactus flowering

Peanut cactus

It always amazes me that, no matter how much I water the garden, even after just a few millimeters of rain, everything is lush and green. And it's actually no surprise - Rainwater contains nitrate – the most bio-available form of nitrogen. Nitrogen is one of the three key macro-nutrients that plants need to thrive – necessary for the development of lush foliage. Rainwater is 100% soft water. Free of the salts, minerals, treatment chemicals, and pharmaceuticals that are found in municipal water, groundwater, and surface water, rainwater is pure hydration.

Rainwater is slightly acidic—naturally! Green gardeners know that most organically grown plants prefer soil pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5. This is on the acidic side of the neutral pH 7, and by nature’s design, it is the exact pH range for rainwater. Tap water, on the other hand, is treated to be alkaline to protect metal pipes from corroding, and can have a pH level upwards of 8.5.

So there you have it - if you want your succulents to thrive, try and gather rain water in barrels and use that to water your potted succulents. Stored rainwater contains some organic matter. If collected from your rooftop, rainwater contains traces of organic material, like leaf litter, pollen, bird droppings and the like, which are great for your plants.

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