Have any of you succ-ers visited Lone Pine? What's your favorite nursery north of San Francisco?
This weekend, we had the pleasure of joining my parents at the lovely Lone Pine Gardens in Sebastopol, CA. Primarily a wholesale nursery, Lone Pine is open to the public Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It's worth a pilgrimage. The owners are terrifically knowledgeable, and the nursery always has a magnificent selection. I also like wandering around the growing grounds--and my favorite part is probably the trays full of different kinds of semps. Seeing one kind of sempervivum en masse is always a treat:
Lone Pine also has some lovely bonsai. Many of these are traditional-looking bonsai, but the bonsai area also featured these gorgeous, tiny semps in a little dish:
Admittedly, I went seeking some unusual types of crassula, and found nothing on that score this visit. However, I didn't leave empty-handed! In an admirable exercise of self-restraint, I took home only three plants:
Lastly, I got my first conophytum! I was nervous, but the good folks at Lone Pine just said that if I "barely water it," it will be fine. The pot is actually a wooden bowl my girlfriend made a few years ago and never finished. I sanded it down and then rubbed it over with peanut oil and let it dry. The top dressing is jade pebbles. It turned out well, no?
Have any of you succ-ers visited Lone Pine? What's your favorite nursery north of San Francisco?
As some of you have noticed, I've been posting a little less frequently than usual lately--that's because I've been so busy planting! (Well, and working a lot.) I thought I'd share a few recent favorites from the past two weekends.
This one occupied several hours. I took an old basket my girlfriend dug out of the garage and made a sempervivum landscape. This has at least 20 different varieties of semps and jovibarba, and was a blast to make. You can't tell from this photo, but I played a lot with height, and made little hills and valleys. I also used chunks of wood and stone in the landscape. The final product is about 24-30" x about 14-18". Click on the pic below for a larger version.
I made an indoor planting of five different kinds of haworthia here, using a pot I found in San Diego for $3. (It didn't have holes in the bottom, but the problem was easily remedied by a diamond-tipped drill bit.) From left to right, these are: h. parksiana; h. cymbiformis (variegated); h. truncata; [aack--not sure]; h. cooperi.
Next up: crassula coccinea (I think), surrounded by a cottony expanse of sempervivum arachnoideum, potted into a shallow square pot from Succulent Gardens. Here's a birds'-eye view. The semps become a kind of top dressing themselves.
Finally, I made this one using a gorgeous echeveria chroma ($1.98, Half Moon Bay Nursery) and some gasteria pups and small, misc. cuttings. I integrated random little metal objects my handy girlfriend was throwing away when she cleaned out her workshop. What would you call this--steampunk succulents?
A buddy of mine graduated from her PhD program a couple weeks ago, and I wanted to make her something special and interesting. So after thinking a while, I decided to try my hand at making a succulent arrangement. I chose a gorgeous purple pot from Ladera Garden Center in Portola Valley, CA, and went to town with it, focusing on purples with some light blue, pink, and green accents. I mostly used echeverias and semps (with some aeoniums in the middle, largely for height), but there are a few surprises, too, including a graptoveria silver stars (I love those!), haworthias (cymbiformis), and a couple crassulas and senecios.
Click on each of the pictures below for a larger version. (And no--that's not my purse.)
Most of the plants are at least partly rooted; only a few of the echeverias are straight-up rootless cuttings. I also focused on plants that can (roughly) tolerate a similar amount of water as one another. It was a lot of fun to put together, and best of all, it seemed to be a hit with my friend!
I never had a greenhouse until six or eight months ago, though I've wanted one since I was a kid. My girlfriend is impressively handy, and constructed our greenhouse mostly from parts we salvaged for free from someone who was getting rid of her greenhouse. (She says "we" built the greenhouse, but she was the brains of the operation, as well as most of the brawn.)
Anyhow, I use the greenhouse partly for propagation. I started many of my plants from leaves or cuttings. The adromischus at the far left is just a few months old, the pachyphytum in the middle, maybe 4-5 months. And the [echeveria?] at the far right is at least 8-9 months old.
For my small plants, I take those plastic nursery trays and fill them with 2" square pots. This seems the most efficient use of space. To the extent possible, I try to organize the flats by type--both for the sake of convenience and the ease of care. Here's a flat of sempervivums.
And here's a flat of (mostly) echeverias. As you can see from this picture and the previous one, very few of my plants are labeled. Only recently did I realize how darn convenient it is to know what things are and when you got them (and if there's room on the tag, where from). Nearly all of these echeverias here started last spring or summer from leaves. They grew a bit over summer and fall, did basically nothing over winter (well, some died), and now seem to be enjoying spring as much as I am.
Once, when I happened upon a small nursery that was going out of business, I found this hard plastic thing in a corner of a greenhouse, all mud-covered. They used it to grow agaves from seed, and sold it to me for $5. Now I use it as a place to grow my teensiest plants--the ones that aren't ready for 2" pots yet: a stray sempervivum baby that falls off, a wee kalanchoe sprout, etc. The little compartments are less than 1" square, so they hold quite a few plants and are great space savers. Anyone know where I could get another one? I've seen similar trays, but never made from hard plastic.
It is hard to overstate how much I love having a greenhouse. I'm still getting the hang of it, and have learned that for many succulents, the heat and moisture it traps are sub-ideal. I managed to cook--literally cook--a dozen or more plants, half of which are on the mend, and the other half of which now live in plant heaven. Now I keep a closer (near-daily) eye on it, leave the door open, and cut a big slit in one side of the plastic covering to help air circulation. I haven't had any more problems (knock on wood...), but I'd love to get tips from more experienced succ-ers on how you use your greenhouses.
I recently received a grant to make a relatively small vertical succulent display where I work. I've been trying to figure out exactly what I want it to look like. Should it integrate art, or just succulents? If art, what kind? Succulent walls are becoming very popular, after all, and I want something a little different from the norm. I'd especially like to emphasize texture.
After consulting with the good folks at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, I decided that I needed to experiment before buying anything major. So I spent a small portion of my budget on test materials and test plants. I started with a 12" x 12" square redwood frame designed for exactly this purpose. Then I started to put my plants in:
As you can see above, I started right away with some plants not typically used in vertical gardens (with good reason, perhaps, but that remains to be seen). Specifically, I started with a few different kinds of crested echeverias. I tried to choose ones with the shortest, widest stems possible. Then, with a nice clean knife... I sliced them like cucumbers. In case you're wondering whether it was terrible to CUT a beautiful crested echeveria, the answer is a resounding yes. But I've heard that as long as you have some stem and root on each piece, the crests will re-root. No idea whether this is true, but I guess I'll find out. I arranged the crested slices to form a squiggly line, which I ended with some Mexican setosa. As you might also notice, I tried two aeonium tabuliforme... we'll see. If they work, it's going to look awesome.
Next, I started filling in the corners. At the top, miscellaneous echeveria cuttings. This is what most people use for vertical gardening--and for good reason. They're bold and root quickly and look great. But I've never been one to make things easy for myself...
What are those green bits in the bottom center, you ask? Haworthia. Two different kinds: cymbiformis and a dark green one that didn't come labeled but was busting out of its 2-inch pot. Retusa, maybe? Anyway, I broke these up into small enough pieces to poke through the wire. I have no idea whether their roots will grow quickly enough to hold them in vertically, but that's what makes this particular frame "experimental," no?
As you can see, I added some other things, too: many sempervivums, mostly quite small (sempervivum tectorum on the lower right), as well as some more echeverias and on the far left, in the middle, two kinds of delosperma: spalmanthoides and congestum. I should have gotten more of both, but I wanted to see how they worked before getting too many of them. I've had good luck with delosperma spalmanthoides before, but they haven't been very fast growers for me in the past. Anyone know where I can get a whole big bunch of it?
Another little experiment: a bunch of Sedum spathulifolium "Cape Blanco." These seem to be really awesome at filling in gaps, and were more fun to use than I'd expected. Some are rooted, some not so much. But they're pretty good growers, in my experience, so I'm hoping that after a couple of months, they'll all root firmly enough not to fall out when they go vertical.
Then it was time to fill in the rest. I did this primarily with sempervivums, since I had quite a lot of those, but I threw in some surprises, too: a grapetopetalum, a grapetoveria "silver star," some weird unidentified sedum that kept falling apart on me, and some anacampseros (which I really like and have barely worked with, but it seems to be getting more popular). Several of the plants I used were rooted, which meant that I had to spend quite a bit of time easing the roots through the wire (and often thinning them a little first).
Here's the final product:
What do you think?
This was a useful exercise in that it helped me figure out a few succs I definitely want to work with and a few I definitely don't. But I guess the key points will be (1) who survives; (2) who roots quickly enough to hold itself in?
My problem is that I should wait about two months before I try to take this vertical... But I'd like to start the rest of the project sooner than that. Any ideas about how these might work? Have any of you other succ-ers tried to use haworthias or sedums or delosperma or anything crested in your vertical gardens?