Contents of the Summer 2012 Northants News
in early February I was hunting for yellow snowdrops and visited a local
alpinist. Among her plants I saw a succulent low-growing mat-forming plant
with short, bluish-green leaves; what was it? Well it turned out to be Esterhuysenia
is a dwarf shrubby mesemb. Needless to say I purchased it (as well as some
yellow snowdrops) and put it in a nice ceramic pot on my patio. Towards
the end of April I noticed it was in bud and it soon opened its flowers. I
checked in two most useful books ‘Mesembs of the World’ [pub: Briza
1998 ISBN 1875093133] and ‘The Genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae’ by
Hans Herre [pub: Balkema 1973 ISBN 9061910021].
revealed the following details. The genus was erected in 1967 by Louisa
Bolus and named in honour of Miss Elsie Esterhuysen a prolific plant
collector and an authority on Cape plants, especially those from the
highest mountains. This plant was found in 1948 on
east-facing ledges in the Hex
River Mountains between 1650 and 1850m [5500-6000ft]. More recent
collections indicate a wider distribution in the sandstone mountains in
the winter rainfall region of Western Cape. There are more undescribed
species and the genus needs study and revision.
plant matches the Esterhuysenia
alpina description with smooth reddish stems and pairs of
opposite leaves, their lower sides rounded, upper faces flat and tips
pointed. The flowers are pinkish-purple, borne singly on stalks and each
lasts many days. The fruits are developing on my plant and should be
coloured reddish-brown. I hope you agree it is a pretty plant that merits
a place on your rock garden or patio. The reference books suggest it grows
in shady places, requires a porous slightly acidic compost and ample
water. It needs cooler conditions to thrive, so shading from the hottest
sun may well be the best approach. I will try a piece on my rock garden
near a hardy yellow-flowered Delosperma species under Pinus
mugo, the European Mountain Pine.
||It was so nice to celebrate Peter Rixon’s 70th birthday with Marion, their family and friends. The sun shone, the wine flowed and the food was excellent. The garden looked splendid, and the greenhouse was crammed with Peter’s plants; not only many familiar mature specimens, but also more recent acquisitions. One of the newest plants was another old friend – an Echeveria laui that Peter had purchased at the auction of Jim Lewis’s collection.|
always kept two or three E.
laui plants so that he had a mature flowering specimen
ready for the annual branch show.
He kept his best potted plants in larger saucers with hortag or
gravel to provide drainage.
The larger diameter saucer prevented accidental damage and any
marking of the fine farina on the leaves.
Wisely Peter had kept Jim’s plant in its larger saucer and as you
can see in the photographs it is growing well and the flowers are
So we saw or remembered three old friends in one day