Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At the End of December: a Very Small Celebration

Sedeveria "Sorrento", Desert Garden, succulents
Sedeveria "Sorrento"
It is the end of the month and the end of a year.  Since I've only been creating this garden and the blog since September and October, I'm not going to give an overview for the year; in fact, I'm merely going to celebrate a few plants.

I have been looking forward to doing this because of one little plant in particular.  Calandrinia grandiflora was bought last spring - probably just because I was colour and plant hungry!  I was starting a little collection of potted herbs on the front patio and the Calandrinia joined them though I didn't repot it at the time.  It's brilliant flowers certainly satisfied my colour lust!
Flower of Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora flower
Then I left it in the pot and didn't really consider putting it in the garden until December.  It's often treated as an annual; but technically it is perennial so at last, despite the bad condition of the plant, I couldn't resist plunking it in the ground.  There wasn't much left by that time!  It had one sparse rosette of leaves and one stem with a few more stunted leaves.
But it has perked up and begun to spread along the ground.  (Oops, I thought it had a more upright habit!)  It remains to be seen whether it can weather a desert winter.  If so, it should send out more of its brilliant flowers next spring.  It is a long blooming plant in favourable conditions: spring through autumn.  My worst problem with it, even in the pot, was judging the right frequency of watering.  This Chilean native is variously said to need "regular" water, to be drought-tolerant, and to sometimes rot in coastal California's wetter winters.  At any rate, my little specimen seems a lot sturdier in the ground so maybe it can now better survive the vagaries of desert winter and my play-it-by-eye watering.
Calandrinia grandiflora foliage come-back
Two other succulents have also gone into the garden.  Warnings of frost-scarring accompany these plants so I am watching them fairly closely now that we have had some freezing nights.  So far I see no damage, and their rich colours extend the range of foliage hues in the garden.  Their forms are hard to duplicate with any other type of plant as well.

One is Senecio "Blue Fingers" (Senecio talinoides var. mandraliscae).  Its steely blue-grey-green fingers - some slender, some thicker - have an almost underwater effect.
Senecio "Blue Fingers", Senecio, Succulent Plants, Desert Garden, Senecio talinoides var. mandraliscae
And then there is Sedeveria "Sorrento", presumably a cross between a Sedum and an Echeveria, though I don't know the details.  It is a very handsome mahogany colour and forms strong star-shaped rosettes with its pointed leaves.
Sedeveria "Sorrento", Desert Garden, Succulent Plants
As of the end of December, with nighttime temperatures falling to 30 degrees F (-1 C), even these fairly sensitive plants are undamaged.  I may need to cover them eventually but am hoping that attention to micro-climate will carry them through for the most part.  I hope they will prove sufficiently well-adapted because their forms and colours are irreplaceable, and appear so much at home in a desert garden.

So there is my End of the Month View, following Helen's meme at The Patient Gardener.  On her blog and other participating blogs, many more thorough End of the Year Views can be visited for inspiration.  Here it is just three little plants which I am enjoying as we head into 2015!

Happy New Year!
Sedeveria "Sorrento", Desert Garden, Succulent plants


  1. Happy New Year Amy.
    I will enjoy learning more about your garden next year. Have you written a post anywhere on how you came to be living in the desert? It would be an interesting read.

    1. Hmmm... That sounds like a candidate for a January post, perhaps? Happy New Year, Jessica :)

  2. The flower of the Calandrinia is indeed wonderful. I love the Sedeveria too. I look forward to reading more about your gardening in a desert. Ditto Jessica's suggestion on how you came to be living in a desert :) Happy 2015

    1. The Calandrinia was in bloom when I bought it - you can see why I couldn't pass it up... Happy New Year and welcome to the small, sunny garden :)

  3. Hi Amy
    That is a wonderful coloured flower, I would have been won over by it too, I hope it does well for you. We have had temperatures down to -1 here but it is winter wet which is the real problem for tender succulents here in the UK, they just rot. It might be that you have to limit watering during the winter so they don't freeze?

    1. One can get a little starved for colour here, and those Calandrinia flowers were so cheerfully bright...! For the same reasons I've been glad to try some of the succulents just to broaden the range of foliage colour. I'm not watering much at present - just enough to keep a little dampness in the soil. It's been amazing to see how the plants' water needs dropped as temperatures came down. I did, in fact, cover these plants with some hay yesterday afternoon as temps dropped a little further, but I don't think I'll actually be dealing with frozen ground in the long term so I'm still more concerned about rot from poor drainage. Will have to watch and see... and report on the results ;) Happy New Year, Helen!

    2. Sorry, Helen, I just realized that my answer confused both parts of your question! I'm not used to growing borderline plants at all since my previous garden was too cold to try- and typically dry in the winter, wet in the summer. So freezing and rotting were usually separated by about six months...! I do see what you mean about the water standing on them during the cold; and I'm keeping a close eye, but will just have to see how it all works out!

    3. Happy 2015 Amy, I am delighted to have found your blog - thank you for commenting on mine - as I love to see plants that I couldn't grow myself thriving in other parts of the world. Your little collection of gems is exciting, I immediately had to look up Calandrinia grandiflora, and am wondering whether I might be able to get away with it in a sheltered and well drained corner of my front garden... I look forward to following your gardening adventures in 2015.

    4. Happy New Year, Janet! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post - will look forward to seeing you back here :) I haven't grown the Calandrinia long enough to advise anybody about it, but it does seem a sturdy sort, and I certainly have enjoyed it in bloom. I can't say much more - it's not actually "recommended" for my area either ;)