Fall has descended on Northern California, and recently we had the rain to prove it. Although this marks the inception of my annual worry that my succulents are going to get too much water outside (which precedes my annual worry that my succulents will freeze, or else get terribly leggy indoors), I have to admit that they look absolutely gorgeous after a rain. Here are some of my favorites:
As regular readers of Gardening Succs are no doubt aware, I have developed quite an affinity for the stacked crassulas--the chunkier and rarer, the better. I have also developed an addictio--er--an affinity for propagation. The natural marriage of these two affinities has resulted, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the following:
From left to right, the rows are: (1) c. deceptor; (2) c. deceptor; (3) c. columella; (4) c. marchandii; (5) half c. barklyi and half c. moonglow; (6) c. emerald; (7) a "catch-all" row that includes c. hirtipes, c. ivory pagoda, c. coralita, and a couple of others; (8) c. deltoides and c. namaquensis. I used a mix of half organic potting soil and half dry stall (aka pumice), since this simple soil cocktail has done me well in the past.
I would love to propagate larger cuttings, but for many of these (especially c. barklyi, which I love but can't find in the US--can anyone help me?!?), I only have one or two tiny little plants from which to take tiny little cuttings. In some cases (e.g., c. namaquensis), I've basically decimated my only plant in the hopes of propagating more.
Why, you might ask, am I propagating these stacked crassulas? Am I hoping to start my own nursery? Sell online? Guerilla garden stacked crassulas up and down the California coast in the hopes that they'll overtake our ubiquitous ice plant? The answer, of course, is that I have no idea. I am propagating these plants because I really, really like them, and I want to get good at propagation for reasons that elude even me. Such are the mysteries of the human mind.
I'm not going to pretend that my photos are as cool as Liz's, but I thought I'd share them nonetheless. (And, hey, not bad for iPhone photos, eh?) The Ruth Bancroft Garden is also featured, I just discovered, in a book that came out less than a year ago: Succulent Paradise.
Let's start with a few agaves, shall we?
Next, a few aloes. It's tough to capture the grandeur of the aloes here. There were really some amazing specimens, including huge aloe nobilis and aloe striata, of which I have no decent pictures. My favorite aloe, though, was the one immediately below this text, and to the right.
As regular readers of this blog are already aware, I am a bit of a haworthia geek. I may or may not have squealed aloud with glee when I saw a whole bunch of gorgeous haworthia truncata of various types, shades, and sizes growing among the rocks in a shaded area. Observe:
Although I wasn't always the world's biggest gasteria fan, I have to admit that they've grown on me more and more... particularly en masse and variegated!
And sempervivums (doesn't it seem like it should be "semperviva?") abounded:
Can we talk about terrestrial bromeliads for a moment? ...Actually, I don't have much to say about them; I just love the phrase "terrestrial bromeliad"--though these dyckia look extraterrestrial to me. I love the combinations of purples and greens.
Onto echeverias. Like (nearly) everything else in the Ruth Bancroft Garden, most of the echeverias weren't labeled. Ruth Bancroft (who is alive and kicking at over 100 years old!) doesn't like the way labels can detract from plants in a garden, which I can understand.
Last but not least... cacti! The RBG is home to dozens, maybe hundreds, of cacti varieties. It's a great time to visit the garden, because many of them are in bloom right now. A few favorites:
Bottom line: if you're anywhere in Northern California, it's worth the drive to Walnut Creek to check out the Ruth Bancroft Garden! (Especially if you're meeting your awesome parents for sushi.) And be sure to check out their nursery, too--they had several hard-to-find plants at pretty reasonable prices. Ta ta for now, succ-ers!
My partner, Liz, and I spent Saturday celebrating Mothers' Day with my parents at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA. The RBG was even better than I expected, in part because they allow dogs AND have tables that make picnicking easy. My parents picked up sushi for the picnic 'cause that's how we roll. (Get it? Sushi? Roll? Hahaha.) We had a great time, enjoying the gardens and the nursery, where my mom and I each picked up a mangave bloodspot for $8.
I need to cull through my own photos and will post those in a few days, but meanwhile I wanted to share Liz's, which I thought were absolutely amazing. Here's a tiny fraction of 'em:
All in all, the RBG was more than worth the 90-minute drive from our house. And thanks to my parents' b-day present to me, I can get in for free all year as a member! Yay! Can't wait to go back. I'll share some of my own photography from the day (albeit inferior) soon.
At about this time last year, I was reluctantly admitting that I was starting to like cacti. I've come to like them even more over the past 361 days, and currently, several of mine are even in flower. There's nothing quite like a cactus blossom. E.g., on Friday, I woke up to this:
...Which, okay, even if you're not a cacti person, you have to admit is pretty gorgeous.
A year ago, I blanched every time someone lumped these spiny critters in with my plump, beloved echeverias or haworthias. Now I'm practically a cactus proselyte. If you're feeling cacti-curious, but aren't quite ready to convert, here are some varieties that might push you over the edge. (I've erred on the less spiny side, since many succ-ers have expressed the crazy desire not to be impaled on their own plants.)
What kinds of cacti should be added to this must-love list? Are any of you readers still cacti-reluctant? (I'm talking to you, Mom!) ;)