They changed the sign! I can totally use this photo now.
First things first: for great photos and savvy writing on this EXACT SAME TOPIC, please visit Danger Garden's post about a December visit to the California Cactus Center, and see Piece of Eden's post on the Huntington Garden Talk & Sale. Awesome posts, both of them. If A Growing Obsession (who was also there) writes a post about the sale as well, it will be a hat trick of fave blogger convergence, and I will die of happiness.
So on Thursday I went to the Huntington Garden Talk & Sale, and on the way I stopped at the California Cactus Center.
In case you visit:
You'll need to be headed north (thanks to a center divider) on Rosemead Blvd. The gray car is turning into the Starbucks driveway. See the narrow entrance to the Cactus Center? Inside the fence is a tiny parking lot. If you drive a smallish car, no problem — but if you drive a truck, oy. Next time I'll back in (or try parking at Starbucks).
(To get to the Huntington from the Cactus Center, take Del Mar west to Allen, turn south on Allen, and follow Allen to the Huntington entrance. "Takes about eight minutes," said the nice lady at the CC. Add extra time if you drive a truck and have to contort your way out of the tiny parking lot.)
At the edge of the parking area is a good-sized Calibanus hookeri. The caudex can get as big as a VW bug, or so they say. It's in the terra cotta pot on the right:
See the lizard? The place was jumping with them — made me so happy. How cool is it to see lizards chasing each other around in the middle of a big city?
"a small, [scaly] rebuke to our commonplace notion that nature exists only in places other than our own" [Paraphrase from this fine article]
I bought two big bags of potting mix:
Agave guiengola Creme Brulee! Love this agave so much. This was a perfect one, with perfect pups.
I should mention how patient and helpful the Cactus Center staff members are, and if you buy several plants they may cut you a deal. Prices are certainly higher than they are in my area, but not crazy-high. This agave, at just over $100, was actually cheaper than a pupless, just-as-large-but-not-nearly-as-nice Creme Brulee at a big nursery in my neck of the woods. Should add that I got nice little Creme Brulee pups for $4.99, and one this size for $24.99 (at a special sale), at the Jurupa Discovery Center Nursery.
Oh, boy :~) Plants and more plants. Beautiful plants. Pots everywhere. Some of these pots look familiar... There's an Aloe (Aloidendron?) ramosissima in a pot on the top shelf at upper left, and yowza, an Aloe (Aloidendron?) pillansii in the lower left hand corner. I didn't ask how much.
Aloe ferox above, Agave attenuata below:
Shared a psychic moment with Danger Garden — looking right (ocotillo fences), looking left...
Potted plants galore, in plain pots, art pots, 1930s-1940s pots... and one corner of the store has top dressing for sale, all colors and shapes. Some of the nicest plants are in special pots, and the price goes up accordingly.
I loved the jumble of plants around the edges of the property.
Of all the pots I saw, this was my favorite:
I'm sure landscape designers love this place:
Many plants are marked with a letter instead of a price — there was a chart at the front desk that showed the corresponding prices. Some plants had price tags:
And some had blooms.
My spoils: an Agave cupreata, a Tradescantia spathacea tricolor, and an Agave titanota that I should have left alone. I love titanotas, especially the Felipe Otero gnarly-marginal-spines variety, and I have a few of them. I tell myself that they provide a sense of continuity (as if a 20 x 50 ft garden needs something to pull it together):
Karen Zimmerman's talk on Aloes was supposed to start at 2:30, and I was on time, along with five other people. POTUS traffic slowdown, apparently. By 3:00, when the lecture began, the room was packed. Hoover Boo gives a fine rundown of the lecture over at Piece of Eden: it was a good talk [I took a heap of notes], and the sale afterwards was amazing. I sat on the left — Hoov B sat somewhere on the right:
I don't mind crowds a bit as long as the thundering herd doesn't beat me to the plants I'm after, and at the Huntington sale on Thursday I cleaned up. A big Grevillea 'Long John' for $37.50? Yes indeed.
For those interested, the Huntington has plant sales after almost every Second Thursday Garden Talk, and I am so marking all of them on my calendar. (I also added a link in the right sidebar.) Won't get to most of them (thanks, day job), but ay caramba, what an experience. No sale like this one next month, since the Huntington's big Spring Plant Sale will be held in April.
Here's what I brought home:
Agave titanota (Huntington clone "with especially corky and toothy leaf margins," a rocking gnarly-spined one)
Agave isthmensis 'Rum Runner' (got two, love this plant)
Dudleya (brittonii or pulverulenta or anthonyi "or hybrid of these" -- anyhow, a beautiful little dudleya)
The wonderful Huntington volunteers were shuttling people and plants to the parking lot in a fleet of electric carts. When I retire, I think I'd like to volunteer at the Huntington.
It was a perfectly excellent day. I drove back to the Starbucks on Rosemead, got food and tea for the journey, enjoyed one last look at the California Cactus Center from the Starbucks drive-thru, hopped on the freeway... and spent almost. three. hours. driving home. Thank god for Puccini. View from Starbucks:
Have taken a few thousand photos of the grevillea :~)