Hello from North London

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jay3
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by jay3 » Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:29 pm

I just realised that it seems I have two accounts! To keep things simple, I will post solely from this one in future.
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MatDz
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by MatDz » Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:41 pm

jay3 wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:29 pm
I just realised that it seems I have two accounts! To keep things simple, I will post solely from this one in future.
Given one is "jay3", and the other "jay5", are you sure there is no 1, 2 and 4? :mrgreen:

Anyway, welcome!
Mat

Based in London, slowly expanding my modest C&S collection. In love with P. compactum & Co. and columnar Crassulas.
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Pattock » Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:54 pm

jay5 wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:19 pm
I have read on a few different pages and forums that Maihuenia poeppigii is the best small groundcover Opuntioid to grow outdoors in the UK. However, it seems tough to find a UK supplier for it.
Quite slow-growing though. I don't know how long it would be before you get a harvest of fruit.

Only one of three suppliers listed on the RHS Plant Finder has them on their website: http://plantbase.co.uk/desert.htm I had not heard of them but they have an interesting list.

Perhaps from seed? It seems quite expensive, though. Rareplants has M. poeppegii and I know their seed is usually good. They still have the UK on their list of countries supplied.
http://www.rareplants.es/shop/prodtype. ... Position=1

I have never tried Seeds Cactus in Italy but they have three varieties of M. patagonica a little cheaper.
https://seedscactus.com/en/maihuenia/12 ... onica.html

Though if you are just getting one packet the postal costs are irritating.

Edited to add: Hi Jay! Welcome.
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Paul in Essex
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Paul in Essex » Sun Dec 27, 2020 9:50 am

Jay - I would say the main issue with Gwen Moore's book is that is is written for USA consumption and a lot of the time plants that grow well in the 'continental' climate there don't do so well in our cool, temperate maritime climate. Many plants need a hot bake in summer to develop internal changes to their body chemistry that allows them to overwinter at colder temperatures. There is lamentably nothing sensible and UK-centric in print at the moment.

Dudleyas. I currently grow cymosa, lanceolata, caespitosa which I believe are about the toughest, also edulis, green and white forms of brittonii, and an u/k hybrid. For several years I grew pulverulenta but that died out one summer. I actually think any are worth trying.

Aeonium spathulatum is the hardiest of the genus. It has even self-sown here. A. simsii is also pretty hardy and there is a hybrid between the two, x barbatum, that is hardier than either - I have been growing that outside for over 20 years. A. simsii is used in hybridising a lot as it usually gives those nice frilly leaf edges to its offspring and they often inherit the hardiness, too. There are a couple of hybrids between simsii and 'Zwartkop' that are great. In habitat simsii is only found at high altitude, generally, on the north side of the rocks it grows on and, at times, the weather is wet, misty and freezing. A. smithii is also very hardy but tricky outside. I grow a few other hybrids. 'Velour' is settled into the trunk of a palm and growing nicely with a convenient canopy of leaves to keep the radiation frosts at bay. What I tend to do with aeoniums is snap a head off and poke it into a rock crevice and let nature take it's course. I have several that have gone through the past couple of mild winters and are now nicely established. A proper frost would see them off, of course, but I still have the mother plant if it is one I want to continue growing.

These are all winter growers, btw. In summer dudleya kind of shrink, especially those first ones on the list. Aeonium spathulatum, simsii and smithii virtually disappear to tight little buds, Aeonium hybrids tend to not grow but colour up nicely with higher light levels. Come cooler temps and wetter conditions they all start growing again.

Echeveria secunda glauca is indeed one of the hardiest. E. elegans particularly so - I started with a single plant 30 years ago and it now forms quite extensive patches of ground cover. I'm also growing it epiphytically in a yew tree. E. rosea, too, is extremely hardy and colourful. I grow several others, including lilacina, prolifera, purpusorum, 'Perle Von Nurnberg', x imbricata, agavoides - although the latter does best with a cover for winter. E. multicaulis has been fine for the past two years with the caveat that winters have been mild. A lot of these hardier echeveria are from areas of cloud forest in habitat and actually enjoy cooler wetter growing conditions as long as they have drainage.

If winters continue to be mild a handful of smaller aloes are worth trying. You have brevifolia, worth trying aristata, x nobilis (you'll most likely see this as mitriformis), humilis. The grass aloes ecklonis, boylei, cooperi are worth a try. And polyphylla, of course, although you can't call that small. Not forgetting the hardiest of all is striatula but that gets big.

Agaves. A. americana is a huge monster. There are many, many nicer and more appropriate species to try IMO although they are mainly larger than you could accommodate, I suspect. If your filifera is indeed filifera, not schidigera, then it doesn't get too massive.

Lampranthus spectabilis will be fine down to around -5 or -6C but not much lower. Cuttings taken as insurance are easy to strike and quick to flower the next year. It is actually best trimmed after flowering, too, to keep it compact. There are several delosperma and drosanthemum that are hardier but not as showy.

For shadier moister areas you could try Umbilicus rupestris (a native) and U. oppositifolius. They both spread but not alarmingly.

Growing in pure grit is absolutely the way forward.

For me, once the bug bit, I started to travel to see plants in habitat and I now mix it up and grow terrestrial bromeliads and xeric ferns (Cheilanthes, Astrolepis, Pellaea as well as native ceterach and trichomanes) in with it all - trying to get communities of plants growing in a naturalistic way. Increasingly bulbs, too.

When the pandemic has (hopefully) passed I would invite you to visit to my garden - I think you would enjoy it. I've spent the past 30 years doing what you are doing now - finding out which species do well for me. I can certainly pass on lots of cuttings of stuff for you to try and chat about what I have tried and lost, which would take too long to write about.

Finally - I wrote a series of six articles for the Cactus and Succulent Review, starting in March 2015, which you might find of interest.
https://www.cactusandsucculentreview.o ... -2015.html
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by jay3 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:00 pm

I do recall seeing a lot of online recommendations for planting S. lineare and S. mexicanum as semi-shade plants in the subtropical southeastern United States, where summers are hot but not as dry as the southwest and winters are colder than they are here, so I think you may be right about them needing hot summers to survive cooler winters. Having read those reports, I planted mine in a semi-shade location as well over the summer (then-not understanding the difference between semi-shade in Atlanta as opposed to semi-shade in London), which may have contributed to their demise. The S. mexicanum ‘Lemon Ball’ is doing well as a houseplant now though, developing new growth within days. It seems the less brightly-coloured S. rupestre ‘Angelina’ and the more compact S. rupestre ‘Angelina’s Teacup’ are recommended as alternatives in more temperate US climates. I only have ‘Angelina’, but it seems to be doing extremely well so far.

I have a small Umbilicus oppositofolium in a more shaded spot. It seems to be doing okay but not much signs of new growth yet, have only had it since October though. It is near some Rhodiola pachylados, which now seems to be stretching out from lack of sun – I had moved it from a sunnier spot in the rockery near the chollas over the summer because it had curled up and dried out.

I also have an Aristaloe aristata (which is doing well so far despite being one of my earliest plants, having been planted directly in clay mixed with a little sharp sand later on due to then-lack of understanding of the need to amend soil). I think the Gasteraloe 'Cosmo' I have potted up is also a hybrid of that species and another species, as sometimes it's sold as a form of A. aristata. I also have a fairly small A. striatula in the rockery, but may have to move that one out.

I’ll take some stem cuttings of the potted Aeonium spatulatum and try them in the ground in the spring. It was sold as U.K. hardy, but I had read other sites suggesting there were no U.K. hardy species. I am also aware that there are some species that might be fine in a full sun position but perhaps not in a semi shaded position like the rockery I’m working on is, hence my reluctance so far with ground-planting the Echeverias as well I do have a ‘Perle Von Nunberg’ as well, as a houseplant. I remember a few years ago, it was left out in the summer and never brought in for the winter; lost most of its leaves and had heavy root rot. The stem did however survive and recover when replanted. As the offsets accumulate, I’m sure the ground-planting trials with both Aeoniums and Echeverias will as well.

I’m close to running out of space so might extend it all forward in the spring a little. This is a very small space, maybe 9’x3’. I can maybe extend it two feet forward, so it becomes more like 9’x5’. Will try to put up a photo soon.

The small S. praealtum shrub, the C. kleiniae and an A. striatula stem wedged in a corner are the only only things close to structural planting I have as it stands, since I tried to focus more on the small species.

I was wondering whether planting more densely was helpful or not. I suppose it gets more water out, reducing root rot, but at the same time it means less space for the water to soak into the ground, so maybe an increased crown rot risk? I noticed the soil was drier around the A. striatula.

The tiny Agave americana pup actually came free with the filifera. Definitely will be one that’s staying in a pot.

Have you had any success with Graptopetalum paraguayense? I noticed many US sites recommending that one for their zone 7/8, but it looks like it might be very sensitive to the kind of wet we get.

And I’ll certainly take you up on your offer to see your garden once the pandemic has improved, thank you. Do you have any pictures? It sounds very impressive. Will definitely read those articles too. Wish there were more UK-specific resources available in general.
Last edited by jay3 on Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Paul in Essex
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Paul in Essex » Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:40 pm

Graptopetalum paraguayense is ridiculously hardy. I've heard of it taking -15C.

You have encountered one of the main problems - reading sources that say 'there are no UK hardy aeonium' for example that are clearly written by people who haven't actually tried. if they had they wouldn't write it. Even some authoritative writers trot out the same preconceptions and dismiss what is possible even though they haven't actually tried it themselves. Of course not everything is hardy everywhere but everyone can grow something if they wanted to. If you were inclined to fashion some sort of rain cover that would expand the range exponentially.

Have I got any pictures? :lol: Millions. if you look at the articles I linked to nearly all the pictures were taken in my garden.

Here is one of the main succulent rockery taken from an upstairs window a couple of months ago. Difficult to get any sense of scale from this, though. The change in level from ground, up the steps to the bit on the left is around 2.5m or so. The Agave gentryi bottom right is about 1.5m across.
upstairs.jpg
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jay3
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by jay3 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:48 pm

Wow, that's very impressive. Very nice olive tree too!

I think I'll try the G. paraguayense in the Spring then, since it seems fairly compact. It's actually fairly surprising how many species could work in the UK. It seems like we have the benefit of being cool enough to grow the cold-temperate Sempervivums, Sedums and Sedum-relatives that suffer in warm climates, while also being warm enough to keep the hardier species from the more exotic groupings (Mexican Sedums, Echeverias, Aeoniums, Aloes). The only downside really seems to be the lack of sunny days.

I noticed there was also a US site saying Senecio rowleyanus, Plectantrus neochilus, variegated Cotyledon tomentosa, xCremnosedum 'Little Gem', Crassula ovata 'Gollum' and Mammillaria bocasana were USDA zone 8 hardy (https://succulentsbox.com/blogs/blog/succulent-zone-7-8). Presumably this only applies to dry winter climates, or have you had success with any of these?

I purchased a Mammillaria bocasana online several months ago (a lot of sites seemed to describe it as the hardiest Mammillaria) and left it potted outdoors, with the plan of putting it in the ground later on. Never rooted. Can't really tell if it's alive because of how thick the 'fur' is on it, but I still have it. No signs of rot, though. Maybe I just have a bad plant.

One plant I have been looking for has been the xHylostachys 'Blue Elf', which seems to be Orostachys iwarenge crossed with some form of Hylotelephium cauticola. It seems like it is sold in the UK, but only in the spring and summer.
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Paul in Essex
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by Paul in Essex » Sun Dec 27, 2020 2:47 pm

No, I've not tried any of those.
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MikeT
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by MikeT » Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:42 am

edds wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:52 pm
MikeT wrote:
Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:57 am
Hi Jay

With that range of interests, you should also think about joining the Sedum Society. As well as the journal, there's a free annual seed distribution, and the free cuttings exchange. A great way to learn more about Crassulaceae and obtain plants that can be otherwise hard to get hold of. Details here.
Thanks for posting that Mike, I wasn't aware of this group as I'm not a fan of Sedum generally. However the exchange list on the website posted as an example (from 2011) but lists a fair number of Aeonium. Are you a member and does it still have a good range? For £12 it'd be worth it for just a couple of Aeonium I don't have!
The Sedum Society Cuttings Exchange offerings will be different each year. It depends who signs up and what they offfer. You have to offer something to take part. But you can be offering a few commonly available taxa, and have access to some rarely obtained plants. The deal is either refund postage or swap if you have something the other person wants. I started off some years ago requesting various cuttings, in more recent years I've only requested as a return after someone has requested from me. That's because I just don't have enough space, not because there aren't plants that I fancy. Being Sedums and relatives, there are plenty of both hardy and tender offerings.
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Re: Hello from North London

Post by edds » Mon Dec 28, 2020 2:26 pm

Thanks Mike. I have signed up and have plenty of Aeonium cuttings to offer. Do like the Hylotelephium in the garden too so will be good to swap a few things!
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