A nature strip

Michele lives on an average size quarter acre suburban block with an established garden full of mature trees with a thick and shaded understory. Her pleasure in gardening covers all plant types and this can be seen by the seemingly overcrowded and mixed 'forest', as she calls it. Several years ago Michele decided to expand her garden on to the roadside nature strip and now this small area contains over 100 species of succulents. As this grass covered area was mostly sunny and dry with poor soil, she knew that whatever was chosen would probably have a hard time and for the most part be neglected. The nature strip was the last place left with any lawn, and as this was the garden type that demanded the most work, it was an easy decision to replace it with succulents. Over the following years and with some experimentation, she found that her new succulent garden had become her pride and joy, full of surprises year round. Initially, she thought that succulents in a garden would present themselves as fairly static. To her surprise and great pleasure she discovered that there were dramatic changes from month to month, as well as from season to season. She inspects the area regularly just for pleasure and always finds enjoyable things to do because the plants are always changing.

In this chapter we will explore some of the seasonal highlights and changes that are not obvious to those who have not gardened with succulents for a long period. Also featured in this chapter are some sedums and sempervivums which have traditionally been considered alpine plants.

A nature strip, looking its besi and greenesi. In ihe cooler months of the year this lawn area required the most work of all in the garden. During the warmer months it dried out and often had yellow and brown patches.

►► Michele stands outside her property, which contains many tall trees and shrubs. A dry summer looms, as lawns begin to show signs of dying.

7 Other than the well known Sedum 'Autumn Joy', little reliable information exists on the flowering performance of most other succulents.

5 Preparation: set the family a task! First a lawn killer was used and then the soil and clay was loosened. Additional gravel and soil was added for better drainage.

5 Preparation: set the family a task! First a lawn killer was used and then the soil and clay was loosened. Additional gravel and soil was added for better drainage.

Foliage plants.

The first planting of succulents in this nature strip garden were small in size. Within twelve months most individuals had multiplied and spread. Many of the first plants were chosen for their foliage not their flowers.

"►This garden was originally planted to provide year-round foliage colour

"^Dramatic leaf colour combinations that change with the seasons add interest to this garden.

» Echeveria 'Violet Queen', showing summer colours, has multiplied from one plant into several in one season's growth.

Graptoveria 'Huth's Pink' in its winter flush.

Echeveria 'Violet Queen' with winter colours. Cold and frosty weather brings out the best in this plant.

T Aeonium 'Zwartkop'. With leaves like this, who needs flowers?

Spring bulbs One year a friend gave Michele some dry, unwanted and unnamed bulbs. Not having the heart to throw them out they were planted in a very sunny part of the succulent garden and forgotten. To her surprise, they all came up in the following spring and bloomed beautifully. Since then more have been planted to complement the whole planting. One of the reasons that most spring bulbs do well in this garden is that they have deep roots that grow straight down, while succulents generally have very shallow roots. As a result, they can co-exist harmoniously.

Hyacinths and jonquils with Senecio mandraliscae

A* These were the very first flowers which revealed the location of the forgotten bulbs. Two green Sedum mexicanum varieties and the blue Senecio mandralisca surround a pink hyacinth and a 'star flower' (Triteleia sp.)

Z A jonquil (lowering against a backdrop of blue

Z A jonquil (lowering against a backdrop of blue

£ Dorotheanthus bellidoniformis (Livingstone daisies) carpeting the ground with colour.

? Livingstone daisies shimmering in the afternoon sun. At different times in the day and in different lighting conditions they seem to change their colouration.

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