I’m not much of a gardener, due to a combination of laziness and a general dislike of getting dirty. However, I do find that certain types of plants appeal to me, and these tend to be a bit weird in general, and if their whole appearance basically screams “FUCK OFF” due to a combination of spikes, poisonous elements or an ability to actually eat small animals, so much the better.
This means that my basic gardening endeavours tend to involve cacti and succulents, although I have now set my sights on a Venus fly trap too, see aforementioned delight at the idea of a plant catching its own dinner. If one element of my life seems to be particularly more Gothy than others, my plant offerings would surely be it.
So if you’re as cackhanded as me in the garden, don’t lose hope. You can indeed grow yourself some easy-care, decorative Gothy-looking plants on your windowsill or on your balcony, and I’ve already done the trial and error in finding out what’s likely to die within days without its own nanny, and what deserves the gold award in the “plant most likely to survive in the face of extreme neglect” category.
With this in mind, I’m going to introduce you to my Gothy garden, which is grown on the roof of my boat. This mainly consists of cacti and succulents that are winter-hardy, although some will need to be covered up for the winter. Aside from this caveat, these plants are pretty much un-killable, and it’s not like I haven’t tried.
Happy Plant is some kind of succulent; I have no idea what it is, although I see a lot of them around so it’s not something rare or special. A cutting of Happy Plant was given to me by my good friend Kez of Linnet’s Circus a couple of summers ago, since which time I stuck it on the roof, left it to the elements, and became increasingly more bemused by its ability to not only survive, but thrive. This year I set up a shallow trough as a succulent garden and re-potted Happy Plant into it, and I strongly suspect that it has a grand master plan for total world domination, given how quickly it has grown since that time.
The rest of the succulents
This is my entire succulent tray in all its glory:
Which consisits of Happy Plant as well as a Sempervivum arachnoideum (top left), a small Aloe praetensis in the middle, an Aloinopsis setifera (top right) an Aloinopsis malherbei (bottom left) and a Pachyphytum oviferum in the middle of the top row, although the latter is new this year, and already doing its damndest to die on me.
These are my cacti:
All of which went through the winter in that little greenhouse, but as you can probably tell by the size of some of them, they aren’t going to fit back in the box this year! The huge giant thing at the back left is one of the many winter-hardy Opuntia species, while the other tall spiky thing is an Echinoserus triglochidiatus. The little pots front to back are: Can’t remember (I think this actually came from Homebase, but it managed the winter in the greenhouse), Gymnocalycium bruchii, and Pediocactus simpsonii respectively.
The only two plants other than these that have gone through the winters well are mint (in the lilac pot), which appears to die completely in the cold, but shoots back to life in spring, and Elacampagne, which does exactly the same. Elacampagne roots can be used as an expectorant to make cough mixture with, if you are so inclined!
I really like cacti and succulents, not only because they are easy to care for if you pick the right types and cover them in the winter, but also because they are basically weird looking, and in some cases, as brittle and spiky as my cold, dark heart. However, some cactus spines and plants can irritate the skin (due to some compound present in them, not just due to the obvious “dur, they’re sharp!”) and also, should you inadvertently knock one of your cactus over, do not do what I did: catch it on the way down.