Woolly Cobweb Houseleek: Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Clärchen’

Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Clärchen' has pink flowers and cobweb rosettes

You don’t need me to tell you how the cobweb houseleek (hen-and-chicks, or in botanical terms, Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum) got its folk name. Those with a fear or spiders or a compulsion to dust might find this plant unsettling. If it looks on the creepy side, try to imagine the leaves are playing cat’s cradle.

Delicate webbing covers each chick from infancy, stretching out as the evergreen rosette swells to maturity. Continue reading

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’: A Beautiful, Unusual Form Of Hen And Chicks

Sempervivum 'Lady Kelly' (hen and chicks)

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ with one chick growing out sideways from its mother (front, left).

Many people know sempervivum as houseleek, or hen and chicks, which celebrates the plantlets produced as offsets. It is monocarpic which means the original rosette-like plant will reach flowering size after several years’ growth, then after flowering once, will shrivel and die, being succeeded by its chicks of various ages and any seedlings.

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ seems to be a rare form. The place where I saw it (Beth Chatto’s nursery) didn’t have any for sale and when I searched for one to buy online, I couldn’t find any source, let alone an equally reputable one.*

The rich lavender – blue – grey colouring was very striking in real life against the greens and corals. I fell immediately in love with the plant and ‘Blue Boy’ a similarly coloured sempervivum cultivar that I might share in a future post.  Continue reading