From the time I was a very little girl, I have always loved sempervivums (hens and chickens) more than any other plant except hostas. My sempervivum gardens started with just a couple of plants that my mother gave me from her garden. Over time I added different varieties. All the sempervivums thrived and spread, and after several years I suddenly found myself with more plants than I had space to grow them.
We decided the solution was to plant large blocks of sempervivums interspersed with paths and rocks strategically placed to make weeding easier. As the years passed the sempervivums kept growing and multiplying, and when those gardens got too crowded, we made more. Eventually we had several gardens housing thousands and thousands of sempervivums… they were an amazing sight.
The last time I saw these gardens was on Thanksgiving Day. It was a beautifully warm day, more like late summer than late fall, and the sempervivums were still gorgeous. That weekend the temperature suddenly dropped and it snowed… HARD. After that we had snow on the ground until just a few weeks ago.
When most of that snow had melted, I did the first thing I always do each spring… I checked on my sempervivums. This is what I found.
The deer had completely destroyed my sempervivums by eating them down to the ground.
These sempervivum gardens grew here for more than twenty years, and the deer have always been around, but they have never bothered any of the gardens. The damage they did this winter is devastating. Almost all of the different varieties I grew or collected over the years have been completely destroyed… the deer ate literally everything.
This spring I’m starting over again with a few plants. I’ll be adding new varieties as I can. What happened was discouraging, but I can’t give up on my sempervivums. With time and a little help from me… plus liberal applications of deer repellent… the sempervivums will do the rest.