After visiting with Chris Hansen, co-founder with Mary Walters of Great Garden Plants, and breeder of the Winter Thriller series of Hellebores and now lots of hardy succulents, I was smitten. Chris is as memorable as his plants--a full-force jolt of energy and enthusiasm--as quick to spot something different as he is to work it into his breeding program.
The latest in this Michigander's repertoire? The first Sedum and Orostachys hybrid, a little tightly-clumped beauty in blue that is said to sport fragrant (think grape soda) blooms in late summer. Chris has named it SunSparkler x Sedoro 'Blue Elf'.
To the non-hardy Echeveria and others whose names I do not know, I added a variegated Sedum called 'Lime Zinger' and one called 'Jade Tuffet', both in Chris's SunSparkler line. These two, and one of the new Sempervivums from the Chick Charms collection, were given to me to try in my garden.
It's easy to find a sunny spot for a small bowl of sun-loving succulents, which offer up the best color with serious sun.
|Clockwise from bottom center: Sempervivum 'Appletini', Sedums 'Lime Zinger', 'Jade Tuffett', |
and x Sedoro 'Blue Elf', with the tiny Eucomis in the center.
|A rainbow of "semps" in |
Chris Hansen's greenhouse.
I had another sad little ceramic bowl from last season into which I'd planted one of my ever growing collection of Eucomis. In went Sempervivum 'Appletini', another Sedum 'Lime Zinger', 'Jade Tuffett', and x Sedoro 'Blue Elf'.
So, what's so captivating about succulents? I think it's their concentrated color. Even without flowers, these little cuties sport more shades and versions of green than a Hosta. Sempervivum, or more commonly "hens and chicks," are Grandma plants personified. But if Peonies and Dahlias can make a comeback, why not the chubby, child-sized houseleek?
I predict an upsurge in strawberry jars, the preferred vessel (after the strawberries died) for hens and chicks. For now, though, the sensible container is made of Hypertufa, clay, ceramic, or even plastic. Semps are not only colorful and interesting, they are forgiving about their conditions.
I also predict that I'll be devoting more space and a larger percentage of containers to Sempervivum, Sedum and x Sedoro.
|This Hypertufa trough is one of several in the rock garden display bed at Great Garden Plants headquarters.|