October 18, 2015

Weekend before a plant sale

Ay caramba, such low light this morning. Do not adjust your screen! 
This is Agave 'Little Shark' — or is it? (Louie's says 'Little Shark.')

What an odd day! Cool (65F) this morning, and so overcast that 8:00 AM looked more like an hour before sunrise. Rain off and on. It's a perfect day to curl up with tea or coffee and catch up on reading. Give me a good read, a sturdy tea kettle with a whistle you can hear a mile away, and a mug of chai, and I'm set. (Latest issues of Atomic Ranch and Garden Design Magazine are waiting.) 

This coming weekend is the 33rd Annual Friends of U.C. Riverside Botanic Gardens Fall Plant Sale, or, as I like to think of it, a perfect Saturday. (I've been cutting and pasting from their sale list, but an FYI: they always have some small/young succulents — Aloe erinacea, for example — that aren't listed.) First I'll hit the sale, then Wild Birds Unlimited in Riverside to see what's new, then Gloria's Nursery for a big pot and a cactus (lots of opuntia love right now), then Louie's Nursery to look around (they have a nice succulent selection), and then the scenic route home. I feel a bit like E.B. White's Wilbur (who planned a perfect day down to the last slop — only to have it ruined by rain [though I've done all this in the rain, and it's still quite wonderful]). Oh, and Sunday is the Brannaman Roping Finals in Santa Ynez, but that's a whole nother post. 

This weekend I'm dealing with the "one in, one out" rule of gardening in a small space. Are there any plants in my garden that should really go to new homes? Why yes, there always are! Since my garden is mostly in containers, and since the Gates folks are happy to rehome succulents, moving things along is a relatively easy process, thank heaven. In theory, this will make more room for the opuntias and native shrubs I hope to nab at UC Riverside. Plants on the way out have been moved to the side yard, awaiting the judge's final decision...

Here are photos of some of the more or less permanent fixtures in my yard these days, plant-wise, along with a few new additions. Warning: lots of photos.

Aloe africana. The tree in the ground behind it is a walnut: a native walnut tree in a two foot wide strip next to the house. To be fair to previous occupants, a bird probably planted it. The arborist offered to put it (where else?) in a pot for me.

A tiny Mangave 'Bloodspot.'

And not far away, a smallish Agave bovicornuta.

Bunper crop! The Meyer lemon was a neglected shrub when I moved in, but it's much happier now, and will be even happier after the arborist removes dead wood and tidies everything up. ("You have a Meyer lemon!" said the arborist. "Oh, no," I said to the arborist. "It's just an ordinary lemon." [dies of shame] 
It's a Meyer lemon. 
[Although I grew up surrounded by citrus groves, and love them, citrus fruit seems to trigger arthritis flare-ups, and I've avoided citrus most of my life. Need some lemons?])

Gone suburban. This Thanksgiving Cactus is in a hanging basket next to the lemon tree.

Morning light is wonderful through the leaves of Grevillea 'Long John' — I'm just afraid this plant would be happier in the ground. Probably needs more sun. And I'm afraid to prune it, which is ridiculous, since in general I'm a lop-branches-off-with-abandon kind of person. We'll see how it does this winter.

Agave montana. It survived last winter's snow with no protection, but I'm bringing it under cover this year.

In the pot ghetto (oh, who am I kidding — my entire garden is a pot ghetto): a new, NOID agave from Jurupa. 'Baccarat'...?

Finally potted: Agave victoriae-reginae 'Golden Princess,' from Tony Marino of the Gates club.

The beautiful foliage of Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon.'

Opuntia basilaris, the king of the glochids. Seriously, this cactus sits back and sneers at puny humans through a cloud of dispersing glochids. Great flowers!

Vision of a dream come true at Louie's Nursery. I want an entire wall of big opuntias. Working on it.

Also at Louie's, a perfect  Agave guiengola 'Crème Brûlée.' As Gerhard has written, guiengolas bruise if you look hard at them. This one is well-protected and gets just the right amount of sun — mine (below) gets too little. Must get an arbor... 

My 'Crème Brûlée.' I love these guys, and as luck would have it, they're big puppers: see below.

One of three pups on this plant.

Opuntia nursery. The school district groundskeepers tore out a big variegated opuntia that was thriving (seven feet high) behind a friend's classroom at work. I managed to salvage a few pieces, and have four or five pots with little variegated opuntias now. It looks like Joseph's Coat (Opuntia monacantha var. variegata).

My gnarliest-spined titanota has a pup!

Please grow up to look like your mom.

Orostachys iwarenge. Such a cool little plant! Found this one at Hunter's Nursery up at Big Bear Lake last summer, and as directed put in it a wide, WIDE pot so that it would have room to sow seed and be bigger next year.

Dies after flowering (Noooo...!!), but comes back from seed each year. (All right then.)

Looks like a fairy garden. Right, Annie's Annuals?

Yucca gigantea. This plant was on a neighbor's porch in Big Bear, of all places, looking dead as a doornail, and I got it when they sold their cabin. Took months for it to show signs of life, but it's thriving now. No intention of ever putting this thing in the ground.

Nearby, some Aloe arborescens going nuts.

And in front of the aloes, a California fuschia, also from Hunter's Nursery in Big Bear. The galvanized bucket was a salvage find, and my welder put a nice hole in the bottom. Now, what plant to put in it?

That flower reminds me: I finally got a hemidemisemi-decent snap of the first Aloe elgonica bloom.

Baby elgonicas.

One of several good-sized elgonica pups I separated from the mothership. Original big plant came from fave Gloria's Nursery in Riverside.

The leaves on Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi 'Variegata' are bordered with the loveliest hot-pink ever — the camera refuses to catch it [/no photo skills].

A new titanota from fellow Gates club member Rob Roy MacGregor.

And another titanota [note to self: do a post on your titanotas], this one a Kelly Griffin variety called 'Stacked.'

A million pups on this Aloe suprafoliata...

... and none on this one [a rescue plant from a Gates salvage operation]. A meaningful difference, suggests palmbob [last comment]. I love to see this oldster blooming.

How cool to be small enough to build a little web in this well-armed Aloe marlothii? Which, by the way, is as green in real life as his relative below, just washed out in this early morning photo.

Another aloe pup! This is a David Verity aloe called 'Spiney,' and you can read about its parentage here.

Nooooo...!! Disaster strikes. This is not my big Kissho Kan (thank the powers), but a nice medium-sized one. For the heck of it I did minor surgery, removed the rotted leaf, sprayed with straight (rubbing) alcohol. Damage seems localized. No symptoms of mites, as far as I can tell. If it can't be saved, there are many pups, including one that is very light-colored.

More disaster: mealy bugs attacked my oldest agave, a twenty year old A. parryi var. huachucensis. Those are dead mealies — I alcoholized 'em. When the leaf opens a bit more I'll clean things up with a toothpick. Poor parryi! 

All this disaster is too much. I need to see a pug.

Lily to the rescue! Here's my sister's pug, Lily, watching the nightly news up at the cabin. Whew! Everything is better now.

If you've made it this far, thanks for looking! Have a good week and a great weekend, whether you're in Santa Ynez, or at that other plant sale (hint: it's in San Marino), or racing me to the opuntias at UC Riverside.

Bookend: a slightly later-in-the-day, slightly better shot of Agave 'Little Shark,' with its beautiful dark spines and leaf margins. I love this one.


  1. What a way to start my week! (I'm reading this first thing on Monday morning). Cute pug, fabulous spikes.

    1. Thanks, Loree! Lily is a doll, and you have no idea (actually, I'm sure you do) how I hover over that little dog when she comes to visit and wanders around the back yard. She needs a pair of Doggles for my garden...

  2. Wow, what a fantastic collection of plants! At first I thought you*d seen them at plant sales, but most of them are yours!

    My Aloe suprafoliata looks just like yours, i.e. it has a zillion pups. I think the plants in circulation are all from the same mega-pupping outlier since A. suprafoliata is supposed to be solitary.

    The rot in the center of your Agave 'Kissho Kan' is very curious. Something similar is happening to my Agave ornithobroma, and I have no idea why.

    You have quite a Saturday ahead of you. Looking forward to your report!

    1. Thanks! Yep, they're all mine except for the two photos I took at Louie's (the wall of opuntias and that divine 'Crème Brûlée'). A collection of potted plants in search of a unifying garden design... Fun challenge for my dotage ;~)

      Good luck with your ornithobroma! I'm keeping an eye on the Kissho Kan, and may consult the oracles over at Agaveville to see what they think. Hope I can save the little guy, and if not, well... room for another plant.

  3. You´ve got beautiful succulents! I love all those different agaves (I can´t really find as much variety here in Madrid). And your sister´s pug is really cute!!
    Have a nice weekend!

    1. Lisa, thanks, and thanks for visiting! Plant sale tomorrow :~)))

  4. Still waiting for the first bloom on my A. elgonica, so I appreciate a look at yours. I've been soaping the mealies on succulents and will add alcohol into the rotation. Fantastic titanotas you've got!

    1. Thanks! As I'm sure you savvy, I spray mealies w/ rubbing alcohol in the evening (I'm kind of a flashlight gardener anyway) or when plants will be in total shade for hours afterwards, to lower the possibility of leaf damage. My agaves seem to tolerate the RA very well -- a tree aloe did too, and a rosemary, IIRC. Haven't tried the straight stuff on other succulents, and as they say, your mileage may vary. Good luck!


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