Irish Independent Weekend Magazine| February 7 2014

At this time of the year our gardens are often still hibernating. Most plants still lie dormant and plants that are at their best are structural plants such as Hellebores and evergreen shrubs which I outlined last month. I discovered this This month I thought I would focus on some amazing low maintenance succulent plants to brighten up your indoor spaces. Succulents are incredibly versatile. From mass planting them into pots, placing them in unusual containers to give them a modern lease of life to creating elegant pieces in custom ceramics, these hardy little plants can cope with almost any container. They are wonderfully low maintenance and I find myself using them again and again to create miniature indoor gardens for clients.

For this week I thought it would be interesting to use some dry logs which I have lying around for firewood and saw them into slices to create planters. I cut a mix of different sizes and heights (the small ones are the size of a wine cork!) and each has unique type of bark too which is really visual. It’s so easy to do and once sliced, I simply drilled a few holes into them with varying drill bits. They are perfect arranged on a tabletop, window cill, or even as party or wedding favours, and so easy to make. A perfect mix of nature and modern appeal.

PLANT CHOICE

Sempervivum arachnoideum

Succulent plants evolved to counteract dry conditions with poor gritty soil. This makes them an ideal plant for many people who don’t have time to constantly look after plants and yet still want that green touch in their living spaces. I love using succulents to create a miniature representation of a natural scene. Tree shaped succulents echo large vertical trees and smaller ones the larger spiky shrub forms of desert Agaves and Aloes. This particular plant is the Sempervivum arachnoideum, a very visual little evergreen succulent which forms cushions of hairy fleshy mounds. The threads look like cobwebs, hence the name. I love this plant as it is so versatile and readily produces runners which you can clip off to become a new plant. It’s a true survivor!

Care: Very little, and that’s the great thing about these plants. If you are not necessarily green-fingered then these plants are for you.  Make sure that the soil you add to the base is gritty, well draining soil and that you place them in a position with good light. Once the plant produces off shoots of new plants, simply pierce them off at the thin stem which connect them and replant the new plant. Also remember, the wine cork sized ones won’t last too long once they start to grow so replant them in a larger log when they get bigger. The rule ‘If in doubt don’t water’ will definitely appeal to anyone who has little time on their hands for garden care and yet loves a bit of green in their lives. A fantastic selection of succulents are available from Johnstown Garden centre-you can even order them online on their site at johnstowngardencentre.ie

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