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February 26, 2012

‘Classical Still Life with Cactus Apples and Aeonium Blooms”


All the varieties of succulent called aeonium are standouts, their flower-like rosette forms and gorgeous colorations appeal to even those who claim to dislike succulents. I love them all, but my absolute favorite is called schwarzkopf or “black head” in German. Their dark presence in the garden adds visual tension, and when used with plants of complementary colors provide dramatic contrast. This time of year, however, aeonium schwarzkopf adds to its usual noir show with a touch of gold …


Suddenly purple-black rosettes are joined by tall stems ending with dense cones of bright yellow flowers, each with delicate little stamen explosions. It was this appearance of gold up-top that inspired the still life photo; I loved the idea of the bright yellow flowers replacing the missing head of a metal Roman figure I bought at a garage sale … To lend further background contrast I added a flea market paint-by-numbers head of a Roman emperor, a distressed, intricately tooled leather portfolio from Mexico, weathered wood, and a cactus branch with dark fruit … My aeonium blooms are now the focal point — and surreal sunshine — in this dark, textured landscape.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2012 3:41 pm

    I have had aeonium for a long time and never had them bloom. How long after till they bloom?

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 26, 2012 3:51 pm

      Hi, Michelle, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question. I’ve got some schwarzkopf that never bloom and others that do … it seems like the larger ones, with the taller stalks are most likely. Thanks for commenting!

  2. February 27, 2012 12:57 am

    Enjoyed your composition very much – such a clever use of materials – plant, animal, mineral. The colors also work so well together. NICE!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 27, 2012 1:09 am

      Aw, thanks, glad you like!

  3. February 27, 2012 7:15 pm

    This is one of my very favorite plants, but it never does very well where I live. They tend to melt down when it gets very hot. A favorite memory is when my husband took me to SF for my birthday and Alcatraz Island was covered in Aeoniums (Aeonia?) in bloom and was very, very beautiful. I don’t think they were many Schwartzkopfs (Schwartzkopfen?), though.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 27, 2012 7:19 pm

      What a nice birthday memory — When we visited Mariscal Nursery’s Fallbrook outpost recently there was an entire slope laden with what seemed like hundreds of these dark beauties in golden bloom … it was spectacular!

  4. March 7, 2012 12:45 am

    yours looks much nicer than mine does. I’ve had mine for quite some time and it’s suffered way too much geclent. Although it does have some blooms on it. Any plant that can survive living with me has got to be a good one….lol

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 13, 2012 2:41 pm

      Until my love for succulents I had nothing but terrible luck with plants, so I feel your pain … Now I have to go look up ‘geclent’… Thanks for the comment, Asma!

  5. March 11, 2012 5:05 am

    I have the green and green/reddish color aeoniums and they, too, are beginning their blooms. I’ve seen some of the schwartzkopf in a very large median planting…I’m thinking a midnight run for just two pinches! Or maybe I can contrive to be in a traffic jam with the window open?! Love your arrangement!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      March 11, 2012 5:06 am

      I say go for the pinch …

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