I started this little rock garden down the side of the porch three years ago using rocks we found in the front yard while planting the roses. When we bought the house, this trench was about 1/3 full of gravel, so I decided to put the space to good use. It receives a full day's worth of sun, and stays really dry since it is shielded from rain by the overhang of the roof. Since I don't want to lug water to this bed every day, I chose plants that can handle extended periods of drought. The rock garden is really difficult to photograph since it is so long and slender. I like this photo though, because there is a Pug shadow in it! Guess who it is!
The rock garden has undergone numerous evolutions over the past three years, and is currently home to mainly hens and chicks. "Hens and chicks" is the common name for small succulents in the sempervivum family. The large central plant is the "hen" and the small plants attached to the exterior of the hen are called "chicks." I like collecting different types of hens and chicks since there are so many varieties of species in various colors and textures. They are very hardy, reproduce pretty quickly and don't mind dry roots.
I found this yellow specimen at the grocery store! What a place to find such a beauty... The "chicks" growing from the side of the "hen" can be easily popped off the main plant and transplanted. These plants are usually referred to as "offshoots" of the main plant.
This variety is named "cobweb" due to the cobweb like wisps connecting the tips of the plant. Hens and chicks are not only useful in dry areas of the yard, but thrive in container plantings.
These large green hens and chicks are from my grandpa's yard. He had a lot of hens and chicks and was so very proud of them. My grandmother offered me some of the plants when he passed away, and I was very happy to take them home to my own garden.
You can find a variety of these plants at your local garden center, and sometimes Lowes and Home Depot, though they do not carry them regularly. Bluestone Perennials offers a nice selection of some unusual varieties that you may not find locally, and Park Seeds offers a variety pack of seeds for home growing. I have never grown these plants from seed, but it would be fun to try some time!
The plants infrequently produce strange flowers from the central "hen" during the summer. I have had only two hens produce such flowers, and although they were unusual and interesting, I didn't much care for their appearance.