I could not understand why the garden beds were planted with so many succulent plants when we first moved in. To me, they were unattractive and at odds with the lush growth of a cottage garden, which I preferred, and also with the natural bushland, which abounds here. My initial intention was to pull them all out and replace them with flowering shrubs. The succulents have survived in the garden for this long because I noticed honeyeaters like the Red Wattle Bird, the Eastern Spinebill, and Yellow Faced Honeyeater all feed from the succulent flowers.
Recently, at a CFA (Country Fire Authority) information session, I picked up the booklet ‘Landscaping for Bushfire: Garden Design and Plant Selection‘ published by the CFA. One of the things discussed in the booklet is plant flamability. Succulents have high moisture content in their leaves, and have a much lower flamability rating than plants such as rosemary and lavender which have high oil content and are much more succeptible to ignition in the event of a bushfire.
After reading this, I looked at our garden with new eyes. It has been designed to have a low flamability risk. Along with the succulent plants, the garden beds are covered with gravel and pebbles (another recommendation in the CFA landscaping booklet). Mulch and tanbark are flamable. Stones are not.
Looking more closely at the succulents we have in our garden, I saw that many of them have interesting structural forms or flowers. In the fernery, two cactus have produced brilliant large flowers – one white, one red – and another has a large flower spike covered in tiny flowers.
Yesterday, I took my camera out to capture some of these newfound delights:
These flowers open to be delicate salmon in clolour with yellow tips. The birds seem to love them, and so far, they have been constantly in flower..
This is the only succulent I brought with me. It was grown from a leaf section and given to me by my nana. I love the plentiful red flowers it produces.
A close-up of the red flower.
Over the last week, we noticed that an insignificant cactus in the fernery had a large flower bud forming. This has just opened to reveal a single huge white flower.
Another photo of the white cactus flower in the fernery. It is very large and quite spectacular!
A close-up of the stamens and pistil.
The view from the side is just as spectacular.
I must admit that try as hard as I can, I still don’t really like this cactus, but it is remarkably symetrical and the form has some beauty.
This cactus is very small and is almost overlooked as it is planted alongside a more showy succulent. However, the red flowers which recently appeared drew my attention to it.
In this photos, I can’t help but be reminded by the sea when I look at this succulent. The form is very reminiscent of coral.
I have not yet taken the time research names for the succulents, but this one is everywhere around the house.
The small skinks that the cats love to hunt live in and under the succulent plants in the back yard.
The pink flowers are attractive, but so are the rosette of thick fleshy leaves.
So far, this succulent has not produced a flower, but the form is very sculptural.
I’m not sure if this is a flower or simply fleshy leaves, but it does appear at the end of a stem.
The burgundy and green colours have a certain appeal.
Every day, the pair of Eastern Spinebills comes to feed on the small flowers on a 2m flower spike.
A close-up of the flowers preferred by the Eastern Spinebill.
On a cactus which looks very ordinary, this single red flower appeared.
The delicate green at the throat of the flower is beautiful
Unfortunately, bugs also seem to like this red flower- there are a few holes in the petals.
Red Wattle Bird Feeding