The dry rock wall, in the rain

Now that we’ve moved into the new house, it’s time for some plants. There is a nice sized rock wall that faces west, and has good southern exposure. Naturally, I’ve got a xeriscape to plan. And… the featured image is somewhat what I’d like the wall to look like eventually. It is a mass of aeoniums at the Wellington Botanic Garden. My rock wall is currently too pitiful to share on the web.

I’ve got a lot of space to fill with cactus. Nearly one hundred square feet, to put a number on it. It’s going to take a while before I get it filled up, but it’ll look great when it’s done. I’m thinking about agaves, opuntias, echinopsis, cylindropuntias, yuccas… the list goes on.

Sold to me as an unnamed sempervivum. It kills me to not know the name of this one!
I’m not sure of the name for this lemon tinged sedum, but it grows well here. Someone planted a lot of it in the rock wall at some point. Now there’s a whole lot.

Anyway, I was finally able to put a few of my small plants out into the rock wall.  It will eventually be dry, I’m sure; but after this record-breaking rain we’ve been having it is hard to imagine it ever being dry. I dug out the heavy clay that filled the plantable areas, and replaced it with a sand/vermiculite/fast draining potting soil mix.

Agave americana, a survivor from my homeless garden. This plant, along with two small pups, has handled wet weather for the past few weeks very nicely. Four large pups have stayed inside the house, as insurance.
In the foreground is Aloe ‘Blue Elf’. The flowers are out of focus, but that’s okay. They don’t really look that good right now. Behind it is another survivor from the homeless garden, Agave parryi var. huachucensis. It got really dry and burnt, and lost a few leaves, but is coming back.
Next in line is Agave ‘Sharkskin’. This is another agave that managed to hang on while I was out of the country. For a while I was worried that it was going to die, but it has started pushing out new growth in recent weeks. Time to get rid of the dead leaves.
This cactus hasn’t been tested by my neglect yet. Echinopsis grandiflora doesn’t like frost, and will show plenty of permanent scarring (at the least) if it has to endure it. I will probably keep it in a pot, sunken in the bed, so I can bring it inside next winter.

I also put together a rain shield, out of lumber, plastic sheeting and rebar. The temperatures from here on out shouldn’t be a problem, but the amount of rain in the next month may be. Hopefully this will keep the xeric plants happier. If this works well (which I’m counting on) I may do something like this for some of the more moisture sensitive plants that I may eventually put in the wall.

I just barely included the rain shield in the photo, and only for posterity. It’s not pretty, but it should work well.

I’ll be waiting patiently for the Rare Plant Research annual open nursery in May. They always have plenty of large opuntia for sale. I’ll have to bring a trailer!


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