Well, it’s been a donkiful week. It’s been a busy week for gardening, as well. One of the things I did was plant a container with Hens and Chicks. I bought the large saucer, above, a few years ago. It’s about 18 inches in diameter and just an inch and a half or two inches deep. I thought it would make a good display feature for Hens and Chicks, or sempervivum. The common name clearly refers to the form of the plants, which look like a mother hen surrounded by her little chicks. The Latin name, sempervivum, means “always living”.
I first planted the dish a couple of summers ago. Most of the plants survived into their second year, and I anticipated that they would return this summer, which would have been their third. However, a certain visiting Grandog had other ideas, and in just a few minutes alone, was able to dig up and totally destroy the saucer-full of plants. So this summer, I had the fun of buying a new set of plants to resettle.
First, I covered the drainage hole with a bit of screen and a few pebbles to keep it from being clogged with soil. Fortunately, I have a handy supply of screen bits, owing to the Arthur Incident. I arranged the plants in a pattern that pleased my eye and then planted each one. The pots the plants came in would have been too deep for the shallow saucer, and I shook most of the dirt from the plant roots and settled them with potting soil.
Sempervivums are amazingly tough little plants. They can survive summer drought and the freezing cold of winter with scarcely any soil at all. I have planted semps in nothing more than a handful of soil set in a natural pocket in a boulder and had them thrive.
Semps are available in many varieties. You can build a whole collection of semps. My favorites look like they have cobwebs strung across them. A good nursery will offer you an amazing selection. If you check out this listing from Lost Horizons nursery, you will get an idea of what is available. There are photographs that give you an idea of the different colours and forms here.
For this project, I just picked up the few varieties that were available at my local box store’s seasonal plant sale. There are a couple of Red Rubins, a Silverine, a Red Beauty, and one labelled simply sempervivum medley.
I deviated a bit from my original plan to plant all Hens and Chicks. A couple of other plants caught my eye and I decided to give them a try. One was a little sedum named “Chocolate Ball”. Sedems can spread quickly, so I’m not sure how this plant will do in the confines of this container, but if it hangs over the edge of the saucer, it will add interest to the design.
The other plant I fell for is a Leptinella squalida “Platts Black”. I’m not familiar with this one at all, and had to Google it when I got home. I learned it is a native of New Zealand, and a relative of the sunflower, which it resembles not at all. It spreads rapidly by runners and can be used as a ground cover. Its common name is Brass Buttons, cute. There is more information at Paghat’s Garden, where it is aptly described as “iddy biddy ferny looking thingy”.
Here are a couple of pictures of the finished planting.