not in the doldrums

It’s the end of summer and most areas of the garden seem to be in some sleepy botanical torpor, exhausted from the heat. Not much is blooming. Brown is everywhere.

August succulents with Crassula perfoliata

And then by contrast there’s this little over-performing corner, formed in large part by chunks of succulents that John has collected over the years…

Cascading over a back wall are the shocking red flowers of this crassula (I think it’s Crassula perfoliata var. minor, a.k.a. Crassula falcata). Its companions in this photo are a couple of other succulents, one of the goth-black aeoniums (Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’) and what’s likely Graptopetalum paraguayense. The three are pretty easy to find and like nice combined.

Crassula perfoliata with curled summer leaves

After the winter rains the foliage on all of these plants plumps up and looks pretty spectacular. But as summer settles in the aeonium and and graptopetalum drop their larger leaves in favor of a tight cluster of leaves packed at the growing end of the stalks. The bigger the leaf the greater the water loss. The crassula will retain its leaves, however, although they’ll look a little shriveled in the drought. The fact that the leaves are folded in half probably helps to shade the leaf, reduce transpiration and reduce moisture loss.

August succulents with Crassula perfoliata last year

The flowering of the crassula varies by year. The photo above is from this season, actually not one of the better years. To the left is a shot from last August. This year’s not quite as flashy, but in the slow heat of August and September, I’ll take it.

7 thoughts on “not in the doldrums”

  1. James, the pastel colors on those succulents are actually striking. In many ways – and like many plants – their end-of-season look can often be their best face. Very cool!

  2. I’m very interested in learning more about succulents for use in the defensible zone, as they are very useful there – as well as pretty. Now I know that late summer color is another reason! I’ve only actually seen one succulent growing wild near our home – Dudleya caespitosa – So I would perforce be looking farther afield for succulents that won’t invade and that will tolerate our climate.

  3. I like the way the red flower echoes the brick – sorry, we designers are always interested in the whole composition.

    FYI, I know you’ve already done your time with this meme business, but wanted to let you know I gave you an honorable mention on my blog. Susan

  4. These plants are interesting! The color red gives a vibrant feeling. As you know water is in short supply and places like California are facing a water shortage. Hence we need to implement water-wise gardening. will give you simple tips on water-wise gardening!

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