Sempervivum forum→It is time for atonement

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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
May 7, 2021 11:24 AM CST

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Group hug Hurray! Tim, you are on the right path. Soon your beautiful river bed will be glorious again. The photos show a very dramatic change.
How is you new garden kitty doing?
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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webesemps
May 7, 2021 12:08 PM CST
Wait, Bob has an assistant?
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 7, 2021 12:13 PM CST

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Sad I'll let Joann or Tim explain. The new kitty is adorable.
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
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tcstoehr
May 7, 2021 12:54 PM CST
valleylynn said: Group hug Hurray! Tim, you are on the right path. Soon your beautiful river bed will be glorious again. The photos show a very dramatic change.
How is you new garden kitty doing?


For those who don't know, we had a stray who chose to stay. That was Bob. His heart was so large it gave out before its time.
Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/8cecba Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/280936

We couldn't live without a cat so we went to a rescue shelter and brought home Ollie. Ollie is super friendly and took to us immediately. He is attached to Joann as Bob was attached to me. I guess it's only fair.
We are attempting to keep him indoors to avoid the dangers of outdoor life. A catio may be installed later this year.
Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/e877e9


Now... back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I tree-mailed to @ricos to get some info on bark dust. She seems quite knowledgeable and suggested I could do some amendment of my soil beneath the gravel. I doubt I'm going to do that. I think I would prefer instead to remove the gravel and work the bark into the topsoil a bit and then mulch it over with more bark. But that seems like too much as well.
I always thought of bark mulch as a way to prevent growth so I never thought about using it on a semp bed. A while back I was looking for an alternative to gravel but this was never on my radar. I suppose there may be good reasons not to use bark. But it's hard to ignore the bark-covered semps in front of my house where the sun hardly shines and they receive extreme neglect. Here's an example:
Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/74bfef Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/74367f
This guy and the others have been in there a long time and show no signs of reduced vigor. The do grow slowly and throw few offsets but I consider that a benefit. They also lack any of those unsightly, appalling clusters of dead leaves underneath.
Digging down under the soil I find this:
Thumb of 2021-05-07/tcstoehr/647af5
Looks and feels quite friable and root-friendly. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.


Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 7, 2021 4:25 PM CST

Moderator

Hello Ollie, can't wait to meet you in person.
Tim, that is another very good observation. It also looks like there is a fare amount of small gravel in that soil?
Name: Jo Ann
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums
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ricos
May 9, 2021 12:49 AM CST
Ollie is adorable.
Sorry to hear about Bob.
Tim you could also apply a layer of composted bark right over the gravel or dig it in a bit and then apply the composted bark and replant right through it. I thought you were wanting to keep the gravel look on top. The easiest way seems to me would be to put some bark compost on top of the rocks, Just fork both the gravel and compost in lightly, ( or don't even work it in) add a thin layer of wood chips as a top dressing to keep the Semps off the wet ground and plant them back. It would be a lot of work to pull the gravel aside or remove it alltogether and it will help loosen up the soil if left there.
There is a big difference between wood chips which make a good top dressing to keep weeds down but actually take nutrients out of the soil in order to start breaking down and composted bark or even composted chips (mulch) which have already been somewhat broken down and start feeding the soil right away.
Just be sure not to get cedar either chips or mulch as these do inhibit growth of micro organisms and therefore plants. So many ways to plant a garden. Keep us posted.
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
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tcstoehr
May 9, 2021 11:26 AM CST
Now you've motivated me JoAnn. I'm gonna try it on some portion of my sempery. Another experiment. I gotta say using bark dust/chips is something I never would have though of until I stumbled upon it. If anyone has some reason not to do this, let us know. I guess I'll find out either way.

Lynn... no gravel in there... at least not noticeable. Maybe a few bits broken off from the pebbled walkway bordering it.
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 9, 2021 3:02 PM CST

Moderator

Tim it never hurts to experiment. I just wonder how it will do in the wet season? Will it hold to much moisture?
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
Bee Lover Region: Oregon Dragonflies Keeper of Poultry Cat Lover Composter
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tcstoehr
May 9, 2021 9:20 PM CST
valleylynn said:Tim it never hurts to experiment. I just wonder how it will do in the wet season? Will it hold to much moisture?


Good point.... maybe it will.... maybe it won't. Shrug! But it's not a problem at all in my front bark-dusted small semp garden. And is it any worse than the saturated native soil? Thinking

At this point I'm assuming nothing as fact.
[Last edited by tcstoehr - May 9, 2021 9:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Jo Ann
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums
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ricos
May 9, 2021 11:59 PM CST
Tim It's a great experiment. If you are going to incorporate the gravel you will get better drainage.
Lynn composted bark does not hold water if the soil used to get the compost going is a bit sandy. I don't know of any composted wood products made with clay soil but then I live in an area of gravel pits, not Canby clay.
The soil mix I prefer to use is roughly 30 % composted bark, 30 % pumice 20% sandy garden mix and 20 % composted wood chips but I have to buy 30 yards at a time and I have no room for that at the moment. This works well in pots or in beds for Semps and sedums and most other rock garden plants.
Name: NAME: Alex
LOCATION: Virginia (Fairfax) ( (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums Sedums Region: Virginia Garden Photography Container Gardener Bookworm
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sedumzz
May 10, 2021 7:35 AM CST
I live in like "The soil is 90% clay have fun trying to plant something in-ground"
I used to have a few semps in pretty much full clay. They suffered for the first year as I planted them in the fall, but the second year they had rooted a lot. Would not be good long-term though. I moved them to proper soil mix.

Currently max is running in circles with his toy in his mouth and is grrrrring aggresively. I am at my desk. Rolling on the floor laughing What is he doing?!?!?

Mr. Max says "Hi"
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 10, 2021 10:04 AM CST

Moderator

Jo Ann your mix sounds very good. I can see why it works for you.
I also like your idea of Tim digging all the gravel into the native soil, with some of the composted bark. That would help to keep the clay in his soil from compacting so fast.

Tim, looking forward to watching your newest experiment. Hoping you will do a photo update as you go?

Alex, I think Max is trying to tease you into playing. I think he is bored.
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Butterflies Sempervivums Region: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents Sedums
Bee Lover Region: Oregon Dragonflies Keeper of Poultry Cat Lover Composter
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tcstoehr
May 20, 2021 9:07 PM CST
My Canby soil is not at all clay. It is a rich, silty loam. Drains quite well and breaks apart easily. I see the local farmers running their discers on warm May days very soon after complete drenches.

Here's an area a few days after a "soil lift". You can see some spots where my trowel left its mark. I'll use this going forward and compare it later in the season. In particular I have my eye on 'Purple Dazzler', 'Nico', 'Hordubal' and 'Chocolate Pepper'. So far... so good.
Thumb of 2021-05-21/tcstoehr/978bc2

Name: NAME: Alex
LOCATION: Virginia (Fairfax) ( (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums Sedums Region: Virginia Garden Photography Container Gardener Bookworm
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Houseplants Native Plants and Wildflowers Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Amaryllis
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sedumzz
May 21, 2021 5:36 AM CST
I think doing so should help. It should aerate the soil more. it will cause the soil to dry out faster though.

perhaps you could cover the holes with large gravel, and than smaller gravel so it is the same level of aeration, but you can do maitnence without tripping over the holes.
Mr. Max says "Hi"
Name: Jo Ann
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Sempervivums
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ricos
May 22, 2021 1:52 AM CST
Tim It looks great.
Yes Canby soil is some of the very best silt loam on the west coast. A farmers dream. That is why you have Swan island Dahlias just down the road. Dahlias are very heavy feeders and need a very rich soil. No accident there. The farmers, nurserymen and Dahlia growers are adding back nutrients in the form of green manures, cover crops, lime, and manure just to mention a few every year. You do not want to dig up your beds every year
Semps need drainage and rock but the nutrients in Canby soil has giving you fantastic plants. I am beginning to think that rock dust is very good for semps. All of the soil I have added it to has produced very healthy plants. When I want to create a soil mix for a particular plant group, I look at the soil in that plant's native habitat or somewhere that it has done well out of native habitat. S.tectorum has been grown on roofs for so many centuries that it will grow on anything from straw(thatch) to concrete (almost) this does not seem to be true for other Semps.
I think you are on the right track here.
It is a wonderful experiment.
Name: Matt
Norfolk, Virgina (Zone 7b)
Sempervivums
norfolkgarden
May 29, 2021 7:27 AM CST
tcstoehr said:My Canby soil is not at all clay. It is a rich, silty loam. Drains quite well and breaks apart easily. I see the local farmers running their discers on warm May days very soon after complete drenches.

Here's an area a few days after a "soil lift". You can see some spots where my trowel left its mark. I'll use this going forward and compare it later in the season. In particular I have my eye on 'Purple Dazzler', 'Nico', 'Hordubal' and 'Chocolate Pepper'. So far... so good.
Thumb of 2021-05-21/tcstoehr/978bc2



Your yard looks beautiful!
May I ask which varieties are the orange (in the middle of the picture), the bright yellowish green in the lower right and the pretty purple/brown with the rounded leaves and lighter outer leaves?
Thanks!

My mom had hens and chicks in the garden when I was a kid, but I am rediscovering them in containers now.
Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 29, 2021 9:28 AM CST

Moderator

Hi Matt.
Not sure about the first two, but the last one, dark purple, looks to be 'Picasso'. A great semp.

@tcstoehr
Name: Matt
Norfolk, Virgina (Zone 7b)
Sempervivums
norfolkgarden
May 29, 2021 9:54 AM CST
Thanks!

I was thinking about drainage and air circulation in general.
One of the interesting 'cheats' for older already potted plants is sticking a knitting needle down into the soil about a half dozen times per square foot.

Would using a pitch fork or turning fork in the ground work to provide enough temporary air circulation?

Guessing it would need to be redone every other year or so?
Name: Sharen
Hollidaysburg PA (Zone 6b)
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Dbfarmgirl
May 29, 2021 11:23 AM CST
Now I'm wondering if my bonsai training pots are part of the reason I have had good luck with semps.
I found them on Amazon and have used different versions for my potted plants. They have good drainage but also provide air circulation under the plant.

This is red beauty. The first photo is planted in a deeper container with one drainage hole. The second is in bonsai pot with the more open bottom. They have about the same soil mix, obviously the same weather conditions. I'm wondering if the air circulation may explain the drastic difference in color. I am sure the drastic temperature swings caused by the smaller containers is also a factor.

Thumb of 2021-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/51a626


Thumb of 2021-05-29/Dbfarmgirl/ab12e5

Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 30, 2021 1:48 PM CST

Moderator

Depth of soil can for sure make a difference, as will faster draining. The more shallow pot will dry out quicker causing stress, therefore more color to the leaves. Both ways are beautiful as can be witnessed by seeing your lovely photos Sharen. Lovey dubby

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