Autumn is a great time for succulent and cactus flowers. It’s not often enough that I get out into the greenhouse, or the front garden, to see what’s in bloom. Most of the plants are doing really well in Melbourne; amazing what being away from the humidity of Brisbane can do. The hoodia, for example, never really took off in Queensland, and they’re going mad down here. The mesembs are also doing wonderfully. These plants – often labelled ‘Living Rocks’ – are compact, beautifully patterned and often have spectacular flowers (as do so many of the succulents).

This usually plump little conophytum is showing signs of slight dehydration, with the old leaves being sloughed off.

Conophytum sp.

I was never a fan of lithops when I was in Queensland. They were often hard to grow and, after much nurturing and attention, they’d end up as wrinkled grey masses in the cactus house. The weather was just too hot for too long, and keeping the water up to them (without making them rot) was a tricky business. Here in Melb, they seem to be much less finicky. They’re almost all flowering regularly and putting on new pairs of leaves all the time.

Lithops sp.
The cactus, oddly enough, often require more care than the succulents. They seem more touchy about pests and watering, and the light situation isn’t ideal either. Back in Queensland, S. had the luxury of a huge Sherwood double-block garden with no trees; the cactus houses had sunlight ALL DAY and the plants loved it. Here? Two words: Monster house. Oh, alright, that’s not the only thing we can blame; there’s also that ginormous elm tree that’s visible on Google Earth images… Even with reduced light, some of the harder cactus to flower are doing their thing. Ferocactus have particularly vivid purple flowers. The one below, with its satiny petals, is actually past its prime; I think it’s still stunning.

Ferocactus flower

Meanwhile, in the “things-I’d-never-have-done-if-I-wasn’t-partnered-with-S.” file:

We visited a trout hatchery in Ballarat today. To pick up 60 fingerlings. They’ve been added to S.’s emerging aquaponics set-up. The first bok choy seedlings have also germinated in the new scoria beds – see photo below! Much excitement to be had!

Some other places I would never have been to had I not been partnered with S.:
  • a bamboo and water-plant plantation,
  • a wood-turning show,
  • a gazillion permaculture/sustainable gardening fairs, and
  • a car wrecker’s yard, hunting for parts.

3 thoughts on “>Succulence

  1. oanh 17/04/2010 / 7:11 pm

    >FYI -you've actually named S in the fourth paragraph below the lithop picture.Lovely photos and so jealous. I especially love the seedlings!And you don't have to publish this comment if you don't wish.:-)

  2. Food Floozy 17/04/2010 / 11:08 pm

    >Very pretty! Can't wait to see them in person!

  3. tseen 19/04/2010 / 2:36 am

    >Thanks for that, Oanh. I rarely re-read posts, so not sure when I would've twigged about that one!FF – I hadn't been in the greenhouse for such a long time. You should see the seedlings, though – as well as cute, they'll be our (and maybe your?) vege source for winter, hopefully! Can't get lower food miles than that!

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