Sempervivum means ‘forever live’ and that’s pretty accurate – mine have been in their pot for eight years and have flowered, had umpteen babies, never even sniffed any fertiliser and yet still look lush and happy. It’s this ability to survive that led them to be so steeped in European folklore:
They were associated with the Roman God Jupiter and were thought to guard against lightning, fire and storms, so they were grown on thatched cottage roofs as a means of protection.
They were used as husband selection devices: suitors were presented with a young plant and the gentleman with the healthiest house leek after a set period of time was thought to be eligible.
They were supposed to scare away witches and were a used to treat warts, corns and burns: quite handy on Halloween or as a living medicine cabinet.
I love their other name – hens and chicks.
I’m hoping that tiny silver versions will look good round the neck or in the ears. If they fend off lightning then so much the better. They’re in my etsy shop.