Until I had chance to travel through the Southern States of America, I didn’t much care for succulents. Gradually they’re been growing on me – not literally – though I could see these aeoniums being worn as cute little hats to Ascot or Chelsea Flower Show Press Day.
Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ captured my heart because of the variable variegation (did I just write that?) – each rosette is a blend of bluey green, green and cream, edged in pink. It’s hard to get a sense of the size of plants from a photograph. These were growing outside in a climate that suited them at The Huntington Botanical Gardens and had reached a larger size than the aeoniums I’ve seen in England.
I’m glad I wasn’t offered the choice of one of them – I’d still be there now, umming and erring over which I liked best. Something about this plant reminds me of old-fashioned roses. It’s not just that the leaves are arranged like petals, but also their poise and grace. It’s such a cheerful plant, in contrast to…
…Spiny McSpineFace, which one could only wear as a hat in the most reckless of moods. Don’t get me wrong, this plant fascinates me too: did you notice how it retains an echo of the neighbouring leaf as an imprint down the centre of each leaf?
Before visiting The Huntington, I associated the garden with roses, and was sorry that we were there too early to see those anywhere near their best. It says a lot that the chance to see their magnificent cactus and succulent collection, grazed by hummingbirds and woodpeckers, more than made up for it. So if you’re lucky enough to visit the garden and have even the slightest of interest in cacti or succulents, please allow plenty of time to walk around this part it. You’ll remember it for a lifetime – and rack up a good number of steps towards your daily target, if you have one!