Friday, February 19, 2010

Hens & Chicks and...

At the Yard, Garden and Patio show this year, I bought some sedums, and sempervivum or hens and chicks. I thought I would try some out in a container and see how they do. At Goodwill, I bought a ceramic bowl from an old crock pot. Drilled some drainage holes; and then covered the bottom with tops from recycled plastic food containers with holes (drainage) before putting in the dirt and the plants. My inspector general Xena Warrior Princess is on the job here.

Origin of the Latin Name for Hens and Chicks:
The word for the genus, Sempervivum, is Latin for "always live," i.e., evergreen. So far, so good. But when you discover that the word for the species, tectorum, means "on roofs" in Latin, you may start scratching your head. What does this evergreen perennial have to do with roofs?
Well, it turns out that hens and chicks, which are indigenous to Europe, were traditionally planted in thatched roofs. European folklore held that they were supposed to provide protection against lightning-induced fires, due to the plants' association with two gods of lightning: Thor and Zeus (Jupiter). In this case, folklore is justified, in the sense that succulents such as hens and chicks are fire-resistant and would perhaps slow down the spread of fire through thatch.

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