Wednesday, August 5, 2009

welcoming more succulents: baby steps

Today is Austin's 46th day of triple-digit heat this year, as well as our second year of extreme or exceptional drought. Our front yard garden is almost 100 percent drought-tolerant plants, with no lawn, and yet I still find myself watering more than I'd like to keep things looking pretty decent.

I don't care much now about keeping those things looking particularly good, just alive.

I think I may be experiencing SAD, not the traditional Seasonal Affective Disorder that affects many Seattle residents, but Summer Affective Disorder (not sure if it exists clinically)--too many days of extreme heat, bright sun, and precious little rain. I rarely utter the word "sun" anymore without a few accompanying expletives!

So, accepting that we now live in a desert climate, I've finally seen the light and am learning to love succulents! Although we have a few nice, big varieties in the ground that were suggested by a landscape architect friend, I'm really a total beginner in this department.

I'm cultivating my new interest in succulents and cacti in baby steps by trying some out in my recently painted pots:

aloes I freed from a crowded pot

a succulent relative of the kalanchoe?

tag read "Crassula 'chain' mix"

more aloes I freed from a crowded pot


ESP said...

Hi Iris.

We ARE living in the desert it seems. I have given up ever seeing rain again at this point, even though I continue to do my mad rain dance every evening under the glow of my tikki lights.

I think you are really going to like your excursion into the world of succulents and cactus, I know I did, and continue to! There is always something to observe with these plants, and they make great blogging fodder.

I wish you good luck and if you ever want any agave pups I have a few hundred!


Iris said...


Thanks for your encouragement and agave pup offer! I just got one from Renee Studebaker that was part of a group you gave her last year.

My own big agave has a couple of pups now, too. So I think I'm set for the moment.


Pam/Digging said...

Yep, we have to embrace these plants to get through our summers. Like ESP, I now adore them!

I just read a book about landscaping with succulents. It's really geared to West Coasters with no freezes, but I think I'll put up a review anyway. The images inspired me greatly.

Lori said...

Hey, Iris-- It's funny that you talk about SAD, because I've been complaining to my friends that I'm suffering from the same thing. When I moved down here from WI it was partly to escape SAD, but I ended up enduring the opposite extreme. Oh, irony!

But I agree with you about Austin now being a desert climate. I'm trying to slowly transition my garden into a fully xeriscaped area, and it's been rather difficult to transition my aesthetic as well.

Iris said...

I'd be very interested in your review of the succulents book! I'm having a difficult time imagining we'll ever have a freeze here again.

I'd like to be able to tell you that this summer and last are flukes, but I'm scared they may be it's going to be from now on.

I'm adjusting my aesthetic, too, but at least there are still a few non-cacti plants (plumbago, ruellia) that manage to bloom in this desert.

TexasDeb said...

I've always been a fan of succulents (wish the deer didn't like them so much though) but I think what has totally charmed me here are all your purple pots. How very lovely.

I keep reading we'll have wetter than normal this winter - I hope those forecasters are on the money with that....

Iris said...

Hey TexasDeb,

I hope they're right about a rainy winter, too, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks! I think my purple pots are cheery, too.

Neleh said...

I saw a recent episode of Central Texas Gardener that mentioned a big cactus and succulent show at Zilker Gardens coming up (Sept maybe?). They have a lot of unusual varieties, and more importantly...good advice!

Iris said...

Yes, I think they said the cactus/succulent sale is September 4-6, from 10-5. I'm definitely planning to go! Thanks for reminding me.

Iris said...

Correction: the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society's annual sale is Sept. 5th, 6th, and 7th (not 4th) from 10-5 at the Austin Area Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Garden.