‘Topsy turvey’ lives up to its name

How aptly named can a plant be? Just look at the “Topsy Turvy” for an answer to that question. This quick-growing succulent takes on a swirling, rosette shape with its leaves pointing inward toward the center of the plant. It looks like your favorite ride at the carnival.

The official name of the “Topsy Turvy” is Echeveria runyonii monstoras. Its beautiful white marble color makes for a unique garden pinwheel.

Dr. Robert Runyon found this plant in the early 1900s in a garden in Matamoros, Mexico, collected it and gave it his name. Interestingly, according the San Gabriel Succulent Society, the genus Echeveria was named after a Spanish illustrator of a projected “Flora Mexicana” book, Atanasio Echeveria, in the late 1700s. The enlightened King Charles III of Spain sent Atanasio as part of a 15-year horticultural expedition to Mexico.

The Getty Museum used thousands of these Echeveria swirls to make a formal, geometric statement on the front façade of the building. This stunner would work equally well in a high and dry part of your yard as a unique ground cover. Or imagine them in mass in a rock garden. A little cover for the hottest of days would be appreciated.

You can count on a growth of about 12 inches in height and about half as wide. Their succulent grayish leaves are the perfect backdrop for some brightly colored, drought tolerant flowers.

Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.