As Saxon Holt, photographer for Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for Every Climate by Gwen Kelaidis pointed out yesterday, hardiness is relative. I remember early on in the life of this website, learning that someone from Australia had found my blog searching for hardy plants. Since, according to this map, the coldest zone in Australia, a tiny speck of red on that continent, is equivalent to USDA Zone 7, I can only wonder at the searcher’s concept of a hardy plant.
So I considered with a bit of skepticism the word “hardy” in the title of this book, but Gwen soon put me at ease on this point. She gardens in Zone 5b in Colorado, and says that her definition of hardiness is being able to withstand -20F for short periods of time. Many of the plants she discusses are hardy to Zone 3, and most will do well into Zones 6 and 7.
But as cold climate gardeners know, temperature is not the only factor in hardiness by a long shot, and Hardy Succulents excels at helping you determine the best cultural conditions for the succulents you want to grow. Some of these plants will benefit from winter moisture, others will be much happier taking their winter dry. Most want as much sun as you can give them; a few do well in shade. Soil drainage is critical for the cacti and some of the other types of plants covered in this book, but the sempervivums and some of the sedums do fine in clay.
Guess what kind I have?
If, like me, you’ve received some unidentified succulents as passalongs, you will find this book helpful in identifying and caring for these plants. But if you’re the type of gardener who goes through plant obsessions, needing to work your way through a plant type or genus, proceed with caution. The forms and colorations of these plants, expertly captured by Saxon Holt, are fascinating and possibly addicting. You may well find yourself saying, “I want one of each.” Myself, I feel content with the passalongs that have come my way, except—you know, Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’ has such wonderful variegation. And Sedum populifolium has an intriguing leaf shape. And—uh-oh, I think I’m in trouble.…
Hardy Succulents is one of the prizes being offered in our scavenger hunt. Sunday, April 12th is the last day to enter.