Aeonium arboretum – syn. Sempervivum arboretum, is an erect succulent subshrub. The cultivar A. arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ has rich, almost black-purple leaves. I am not sure that this is the cultivar that I saw in the late 1980s in a park in southern Spain, but the image of its deep maroon almost black foliage really excited me then and remains a tangible memory.
I first saw a deep maroon almost black plant of Aeonium in a park in southern Spain. Always a lover of sempervivum, the colour really excited me, as did the height of the plant, so I am guessing that it was a form of Aeonium arboretum. My picture shows a dark form of Aeonium growing in the long greenhouse at Walmer Castle, unfortunately few if any of the plants are labelled.
However my first sighting of Aeonium and many other sub-tropical species was several decades ago in the gardens of Tresco Abbey in the Isles of Scilly. My memory and fascination of this garden is still very clear and it’s my intention to repeat the experience with my husband in the not too distant future.
Always a lover of sempervivum from an early age, and kalanchoe also the large grey leaved echeveria that my mother grew - planted outdoors during the summer and reinstated in the greenhouse for the winter months. Sempervivum were, for me, an early introduction to propagation as the mother plant sends off numerous offsets around her. These offsets can be repotted if required or left to make a large mat. One species S. arachnoideum appears to be coated in a web of fine hairs like a spiders web. Once the mother plant has flowered it will die, leaving all the little offsets to grow on.