August 001

By Paul Hervey-Brookes

With Moscow Flower Show and the last of the UK Royal Horticultural Society Shows over, its time for me to catch up.  RHS Tatton which happened last month is always a really special show for me, for the last 6 years I have mentored the Young Designer of the Year competition and for the last two years i have been either Chairman of Judging or Chairing Assessing of the Back to Back Garden categories.  This year there was plenty to see for those looking for small space solutions, lots of exciting ways both recycled materials and new porcelain and traditional paving were being used so its a great way to see different options in a real life garden setting.

This month I am a bit on the road still, I will be in Nuremberg and then Budapest before returning to a long standing project in rural France.  Its an ideal time for me to see what continental weather the excessive heat, of which we have experienced our fair share this year, can do to herbaceous plants and softer growing material. Often heat exhaustion shows its self in stunted growth and short flowering periods. These are two things as gardeners we don't really want and we also don't want to be out spending hours watering so I like to visit these projects now to see what really stands up to long periods of heat and dry.  So far in my own garden which has been largely neglected since May, Helianthus Lemon Queen seems not to have noticed and many of the Persicarias, Fennel and drought tolerant grass such as Anemanthele are all looking good and healthy.

So with that in mind if you dash out and find some houseleeks to nestle inbetween paving or on a shed or low roof then share it with us on facebook, Instagram or Twitter

With such hot weather it reminds me of the longevity of the simpleHouseleek! They are perfect for containers or for planting through well drained gravel.
The sempervivum is thought to have been introduced to Britain in about 1100. It has been known as the houseleek for centuries and is often seen on the edges of old thatched and slated roofs - sites that reflect its mountain home. Historically, having a houseleek on the roof was believed to protect the and its inhabitants against fire, lightning, thunder and pestilence. Indeed, houseleeks were so highly regarded that the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (764-814), decreed that all homes on his estates should grow them.   The Latin name of the most common species, Sempervivum tectorum translates as "forever alive and growing on the roof" while the Irish name, buachaill a'tighe means "warden of the house". Throughout Europe it was considered unlucky either to uproot the houseleek or to allow it to flower. But it also has the longest common plant name in English - Welcome-home-husband-though-never-so-late.

Meet the author

Paul Hervey-Brookes

Paul had his own highly successful landscape design business, and has also designed a range of gardening gifts for Marks & Spencers.