"A succulent is a plant that gets its nourishment and water from the inside--it replenishes itself." --Sark
You may not be familiar with the term Succulent. Sometimes these plants are called Sedums. Sansevieria is a common one. The Jade plant is well known and is said to bring luck. Cacti are succulents too.
The origin of their name lies in the inflated, fleshy appearance of their leaves. It's like biting into a sweet juicy strawberry--You might call it succulent.
Succulents are the plant material most often used in green roofing projects. Their ability to hold water gives them a cooling quality. They are low maintenance plants who can survive in high temperatures with less than ideal soil.
Most succulents have a waxy or plastic appearance. This thick skin acts as a protectant. It keeps the water in and makes them impervious to surface damage and scarring. They stay cool by growing in shapes that reflect the sun, creating shadows and shade. The spiny needles of the Cacti have both a cooling and a defensive purpose. The needles create a humid micro-climate around the plant's surface. This reduces air movement, thereby diminishing water loss. In addition, the needles deter predators. Succulent plants keep their roots close to the soil surface so that they can absorb even the smallest rain or drop of dew.
When we use these plants on the roof, their qualities go to work for us as well--lowering our energy costs.
Here is what they look like after a full season of growth:
BUT, Here is what they look like when they are first planted:
Sparse and dry.
Sark's quote goes on to say, "I wish for you the ability to self-replenish. To be juicy, ripe and filled to over-flowing."
I thought about this--The world can be dry and damaging. Succulent plants have adapted in ways we could emulate. We could grow spikes to defend ourselves like the cactus. Or we could grow rich, juicy hearts, and have our roots near the surface so that we can absorb what good there is. We could replenish ourselves and be fat with life. We could retain like the aloe plant so that we have something soothing to offer.
When you are discouraged, look at the green roof and remember that it takes at least a season to become ripe and overflowing.