The Dry Garden


There are many plants that are very good at coping with extremes in weather, Sempervivums, also known as Houseleeks or Liveforever are such plants

Sempervivums - House LeekLatin origin: Semper (always) & vivus (living).

Although the past two summers have been a bit of a washout, generally, due to global warming, our summers are getting dryer and hotter and scientist are pretty unanimous that global temperatures will continue to rise into the future.

So what does this mean to the keen gardener? Well, we are going to have to ‘tweak’ some of our gardening practises to cope with the demands of dryer summers.

Make way for the Alpines

There are many plants that are very good at coping with extremes in weather. Alpines are used to growing in high altitudes, where temperature can waver on the extremes of hot and cold and  moisture is precious. Sempervivums (Tough perennials, also known as Houseleeks or Liveforever), genus of about 40 species of the Crassulaceae family are such plants. They originate from mountainous climbs within Southern Europe and the Middle East and surrounding regions. They store water in their thick succulent leaves in much the same way as cacti making them great survival specialists. This means that such plants should cope with our misbehaving weather and still put on a glorious display. Not only do they look attractive, they with stifle emerging weeds with thick ground cover, are not invasive and will produce rather unusual ‘alien-like’ flowers.

Sempervivum Mixed Hybrids

Recently, I bought a pack of seeds: “Sempervivum Mixed Hybrids”  which I can’t wait to plant later this spring. If you are considering growing Sempervivums from seed, be aware that they are slow to germinate. I have chosen to grow from seed because I would like to build up a healthy collection of different type of Sempervivum. This mix seems to have it all; “A delightfully attractive and varied range of sun-loving plants, with an assortment of vividly coloured rosettes”.

By James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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