Barum's Greenhouse Bed

This page captures the adventures of the Greenhouse Bed, where we have been trying to grow Succulents and other delicate plants.
In common with everyone else we already had some Agaves, but then we discovered Aeoniums during our first visit to The Canary Islands in 2000. That explains why it took several years before the bed and succulents get them selves connected.
Larger pictures are available at the click of a mouse hovered over the thumbnails.


We planted our first collection in a herb pot. This needed two photos to show it − Barum doesn't possess a camera that can track round the circumference.
Front View of pot Rear View of pot


The Aeonium tabuliform decided to flower, and succumbed. We failed to get any of the seeds to germinate. We have since managed to replace it, but they're not easy to find.
The paving, round the Greenhouse bed, began to be replaced, as described in the history of this year.
"What's that got to do with succulents?" I hear you mutter. "Patience", I say to you.
Tabuliform in flower


We completed relaying the paving round the Greenhouse bed − another 30metres − that's a lot of paving. The Undergardener became an expert in crazy paving.
The focal point of this bed is a trachycarpus fortunei. planted in 1993. This has developed magnificently.
The lower end of the bed needed support. We selected log-rope edging, which should last a minimum of 10 years (but see below).
The completed job looked very impressive − far too posh for Barum.
"Still no mention of succulents!" You must be screaming by now.
Tracy bed


At last! We moved the Aeoniums into the Greenhouse bed, which screamed out (just like you) for some exciting new planting to complement the Trachycarpus.
Most were displayed in sunken pots, but others that had outgrown their pots, were planted directly in the soil.
The upper picture is a general view of the bed, with some of the new planting in the lower part of the picture.
A few even flowered − as shown in the lower picture.
2004 View Aeonium in flower

Winter 2004-05:

This winter was fairly mild, minimum temp −3°C.
The potted plants were overwintered in the greenhouse, along with the smaller plants that could reasonably be lifted.
Those that could not easily be lifted remained in the ground. These were protected by a huge cloche made from some redundant sheets of polycarbonate roofing.
More than half survived.


Following our success, more Aeoniums were planted directly into the soil, together with an Aloe ciliaris (seen in flower in the lower picture).
2005 View 2005 View

Winter 2005-06

The plants had the same winter protection as last winter
This winter was the coldest since 1996 − frosts in every month between November 2005 and March 2006.
2006 started very cold, but fairly dry. This lack of dampness, and associated mould, enabled about 2/3 of the plants outside to survive, including the Aloe. Those that failed were either on the fringe of the cloche or beyond.


In the late spring we added more Aeoniums and an Agave americana 'Marginata'. The Aloe ciliaris even flowered, despite the late spring.
The Aeonium 'Zwartkop' was chopped up to make about 10 new plants − it was getting too leggy.
We apologise for these photos, they have been hacked out of a couple depicting the Acer palmatum dissectum 'Seiryu' in autumn colouring. If you look carefully you can see some succulents.
Long View of bed Closeup View

Winter 2006-07:

This was fairly mild, but with a cold snap in February (−5°C).


We carried on, undaunted. The left picture shows nearly the whole bed, with many Aeoniums in the foreground. The sprawling ones are planted. Also the Aloe is just coming into flower.
The right picture gives a closer look at the back of the bed, where a Rhodochiton is seen climbing up the fibrous trunk of the Trachycarpus. The effect of beheading an A. Zwartkop is visible, showing that it produces a multi-stemmed, more interesting and more stable plant.
Long View of bed Closeup View

Winter 2007-08

This was a long winter overnight frosts in every month between November '07 and April '08. There were no extreme temperatures, the minimum temperate was −4°C.


This was a dramatic year for this bed.
The log-rope edging used to support the lower edge of this bed had rotted. This was very surprising since it had only been put there in 2003, and was claimed to last for 10 years minimum.
So the Undergardener was promoted to bricky for the job of replacing it with stone walling which should last much longer. He is very proud of his efforts, and the results are visible in each photo.
The Headgardener finished off the bed with some pebble-work to frame the Succulents.
After this Herculean effort, the Undergardener had one of his bright ideas − "How about we remove the Trachycarpus fortunei and replace it with the Chamaerops humilis 'Argentia'"?
The Trachycarpus has been a magnificent palm, in fact too successful − it's trunk had grown to 2.5m and the canopy was at least 3m, shading the whole bed.
The Chamaerops had been languishing in an inadequate pot ever since the Headgardener bought it on a whim in 2006, Barum normally progresses on whims − normally hers, but very occasionally his.
Removing the Trachycarpus was a challenge: the root-ball of a palm consists of hundreds of 1/2cm diameter rootlets, which are extremely springy. An axe just bounced off. Secateurs would cut through, but this became too tedious. So we purchased a scorpion saw, loosened the soil with a fork then thrust the saw into the loosened soil and sawed away, this worked like a dream, but inevitably wrecked the saw-blade.
The Undergardener apologises for the intrusive Colocasia esculanta 'Black Magic' preventing the viewer getting a clear view of his hard work. Also for the Colocasia gigantea in the background of the right picture.
Just an after-thought: the tree was removed after the wall had been built, so we had to make sure the trunk didn't wreck the wall as it fell. There's planning for you.
Top View of Greenhouse bed. Side View of Greenhouse bed Bottom view of Greenhouse bed.

Winter 2008-09

This was a brute.
All the outdoor succulents were cut to the ground, and all the Aeoniums were killed, together with a 10 year old Agave Americana 'Marginata'.
The Chamaerops was completely untouched, but then it was protected from any rain / snow.


Once it was warm enough for the Headgardener to venture out, she cleared away the composting mush that had been the Aeoniums. Amazingly, the Aloe ciliaris had a new shoot growing from the base.
Once we could see what had survived, we decided not to plant anything until the risk of frosts were past (a normal precaution for normal gardeners − but this is Barum).
In early May she sorted out the plants that had survived in the greenhouse and made the amazing and wonderful display seen in these photographs, taken in early July. Most are in sunken pots − once bitten ..., and the slate and pebbles add an artistic touch.
The pink flowers come from a Salvia microphylla. It replaced a Salvia guaranitica that had died after growing in this bed for the last 6 years.
The Undergardener is very proud to state that he has managed to propagate some offsets from the striped Agave americana mediopicta 'Alba'.
Top View of Greenhouse bed. Side View of Greenhouse bed Bottom view of Greenhouse bed.

Winter 2009-10

This was even worse than last Winter.
There were very few succulents left outdoors, but we had even lost some in the greenhouse − our poor old heater couldn't compete with the cold.
The Chamaerops was again untouched, under its cloche made from a pair of redundant polycarbonate conservatory roof sheets, photographed in December.
Snowy cloche Dec 2009


Sufficient of the succulents survived for the Headgardener to make one of her wonderful displays. Naturally the wonderful Agave mediopicta is cared for by the Undergardener, since she is scared of the spikes.
Greenhouse bed June 2010 - 1842 Greenhouse bed July 2010 - 1888

Winter 2010-11

Winter came unexpectedly in late November, complete with snow. It continued to Christmas − and was a very cold. Thus Winter came before any protection had been provided, so the succulents were quickly lifted and rushed into the greenhouse. The Aloe ciliaris remained outdoors under the roofing cover (see Winter 2009-10 above) together with the Chamaerops.
After the terrible December, the remainder of the winter was very mild.


Virtually all the succulents survived. The Headgardener made one of her best displays. Naturally the wonderful Agave mediopicta is cared for by the Undergardener, since she is scared of the spikes.
Greenhouse bed

Winter 2011-12

Winter did not arrive until February, and only lasted for one month. But only the Aloe ciliaris was left outdoors as we had learnt our lesson from the previous winters.
We had our Summer in March, with temperatures up to +22°C.


What a false start to the Summer we had in March, the rains started in June and it did not fully dry out for the rest of the year − vast areas of the Somerset Levels are still under water in February 2013
We planted the succulents out as per usual, but several showed signs of mould during the Summer. They were dug up in the Autumn and put in the greenhouse - not for protection, rather to help them dry out. Every day, when it was not raining the door was opened to try to prevent too many mould developing over the Winter.
Hardly seems worth the bother.

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