Very interesting topic, been enjoying reading everyone's story.
I started gardening when I was eight years old, growing zinnias and pinks for cut flowers for my grandmother. By the time I was ten I was growing it all; wildflowers, perennials, rock garden plants, succulents, Iris, roses, you name it, I was interested.
In my mid twenties I met Bill Nixon (C. William Nixon), known for his heuffelii breeding, although semps too, and author of the SFAN (Sempervivum Fanciers Association Newsletter). Bill was intense with his interest in the genus, and it rubbed off on me. Made many plant meeting field trips with Bill and many dinners at his house (quite a cook).
When I was 30 I moved to the Seattle WA area for 4 years. I built a semp/sedum garden which was very successful (grown in sand beds). When I returned to my home State of Massachusetts in 1986, I amassed a good collection of semps and heuffs, many came to me directly from Bill Nixon, had about 250 cultivars (I didn't keep records back then).
Flash forward 32 years to current times, in those years of being overworked I had lost almost all of my collection to work & family demands, down from 250 or so to about 12. So now in retirement, I decided to return to one of my true loves, Semps & Jovs (notice I'm old school, I still use Jovibarba
), and re-establish a collection of ~150 cultivars this spring, it's been a blast and I'm loving every minute of it. This spring I ordered from 6 of the semp specialist nurseries listed on NGA, all were superb, one of the highlights of my retirement has been to play out my semp love affair. This interest will carry me to my last days.