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!
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the Cactus & Succulent Society of San Jose's annual show and sale. I went last year and enjoyed it, and the difference between how much I saw/knew/understood this year vs. last year was huge, which was kind of gratifying. I may or may not have stood around allowing people to solicit me for advice. It may or may not have made me want to write a book about succulents and/or transform into Debra Lee Baldwin. Just sayin'.
If memory serves, last year's sale favored cacti over succs, but this year's wares were fairly evenly divided between cacti and other succulents. Plus, I like cacti more than I used to, particularly rebutias, of which there were plenty. One vendor had air plants, and there were some "meh" plastic pots. That was my only real disappointment--I wanted to pick up some cool pots, and this wasn't the place to do it.
Anyhow, without further ado, here are some photos of my favorite eye candy from Saturday's show! Some of these won prizes, and others did not, but they all caught my eye. Enjoy!
My girlfriend and I took a trip to Sonora over Valentine's Day weekend. In addition to binge-watching "House of Cards," hiking at Glory Hole, and drinking marvelous tea, we ventured to a place called K&L Cactus. I had no idea what to expect, but my girlfriend gamely agreed to drive an hour out of our way to middle-of-nowhere Ione, CA.
Oh my gosh. It was SO worth the trip. K&L Cactus consists of two enormous greenhouses positively bursting with incredible plants. K&L's proprietor, Lorraine (pictured below in one of her greenhouses; I'm the one on the right), is not only a very kind, interesting, and cool person, but is stunningly knowledgeable about succulents and cacti. She talked patiently with me as I peppered her with questions and wandered slowly through her beautiful greenhouses.
I've been to a lot of succulent and cactus places, and K&L is easily in my top two or three. If you prefer the meticulous labeling, easy-to-read pricing, and impeccable organization of a place like Flora Grubb, K&L might not be for you. But if you're like me and love a sprawling jungle of a nursery every bit as much, you've got to make the pilgrimage to K&L. It's easily worth the trip just to meet Lorraine!
I spent so long in the greenhouses that my girlfriend eventually retreated to the car with the dog and played games on her iPhone (talk about a good sport...). But before she did, she unleashed her formidable photography skills on K&L. The pictures in this post were all taken by her. Enjoy the eye candy!
My only regret is that, starving grad student that I am, I couldn't afford to spend more money there! Still, I took home several goodies, and I'm hoping this post will throw some more business Lorraine's way. I know I have a lot of readers in the Davis/Sacramento area, and Ione is only an hour away from you. Call K&L and set up an appointment to visit--it's well worth it!