Monday, October 16, 2017

In-depth tour of the Succulents and More front garden

Last Saturday I hosted an open garden for members of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society. In preparation I did a fairly thorough clean-up of the front yard. I even hauled out the pressure washer and blasted away years of grime from the flagstone. The wind undid my raking and leaf-blowing efforts three times (grrrr), and in the end I simply had to accept the fact there were more stray leaves than I wanted. Such is the life of a gardener.

This coming Saturday I'm hosting the California Horticultural Society for coffee in the garden, so I'm able to kill two birds with one stone. In addition, the front garden is finally looking good enough to give you an in-depth tour. It's been a while since I did that.

There are 70+ photos in this post so grab your favorite drink and settle in for the duration. All photos are available in a higher-resolution version. Simply click any photo to access the lightbox view. From there you can scroll through all the images.

View from the street

Friday, October 13, 2017

Plant porn from the 2017 Succulent Extravaganza

As I always do, I took lots of photos at the 2017 Succulent Extravaganza held on September 29 and 30 at Succulent Gardens in Castroville on California's beautiful Central Coast.

My earlier post talked about this fantasticand free!event in more detail.

This post is nothing but plant porn from Succulent Gardens, Northern California's largest succulent grower. Most photos are of the demonstration gardens but a few are from inside the retail greenhouse where thousands upon thousands of plants are for sale.

Be warned: This is a long post, containing 70+ photos. Take your time. I promise you it's worth it.

Aeonium 'Sunburst' and Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light'. This is in the demonstration garden Andrea Hurd created for the 2015 Succulent Extravaganza.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mangaves and other goodies at UC Davis Arboretum fall plant sale

October 7 was the first plant sale of the season at the UC Davis Arboretum Teachning Nursery. I had printed out the plant list from their web site so I knew what to expect. (Their plant list is very handy because it contains not only brief information about each plant but also the aisle in the nursery where to find it, the price, and how many are in stock.)

I was thrilled to see that the plant sale inventory contained a number of new mangaves from Walters Gardens. Mangaves are crosses between the genus Agave (or, in many of these cases, another ×Mangave) and the genus Manfreda. I had several already, thanks to Loree aka Danger Garden who shared her mangave bounty with me earlier in the year, but there were some others I didn't have. I'm making a bold prediction right here and now: 2018 will the the year of the mangave! Many of these new hybrids will find their way into nurseries and, hopefully, into customers' gardens. Look for a dedicated mangave post soon.

Mangave bouty at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery fall plant sale

Friday, October 6, 2017

Aloes, aloes, aloes at UC Davis Botanical Conservatory pre-sale

Plant sale season is kicking into high gear. If you live on the Central Coast, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is having their fall plant sale on Saturday, October 14. For more info, visit their web site.

Much closer to home, the UC Davis Arboretum will kick off their fall sales tomorrow, Saturday, October 7 (9:00-11:00 for members, 11:00-1:00 for the public). There will also be a sale on Saturday, October 21 and a public clearance sale on Saturday, November 4. For more information and to download the inventory for each sale, visit their web site.

This morning, the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, an "interactive and multi-sensory museum containing a large diversity of live specimens relied on for teaching or research purposes," had their pre-sale. The tables were well stocked with succulents, carnivorous plants, houseplants, and the usual quirky assortment of oddities. The prices were great, too: $10 for 3 $4 plants, $20 for 7.

The Botanical Conservatory will have tables at all the UC Davis Arboretum plant sales, so if you missed today's pre-sale, visit them at any of the Arboretum plant sales. Their tables are usually in the back, at the far end of the nursery. Ernesto Sandoval and Marlene Simon will be on hand to answer all your questions.


Above is my haul from this morning's Botanical Conservatory pre-sale.

Monday, October 2, 2017

2017 Succulent Extravaganza was a blast

The 2017 Succulent Extravaganza at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, CA took place this past Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30. Both days were jam-packed with presentations, socalizing, looking at plants, and of course shopping. I didn't arrive until late afternoon on Friday so I missed out on Friday's activities. But I enjoyed a full day on Saturday visiting with old succulent friends and meeting new ones, taking photos of the wonderful plants at Succulents Gardens (the demonstration gardens looked better than ever), and listening to four presentations. I bought a few things, too, but oddly enough none of them were succulents.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I visited the Danger Garden (again) and didn't get poked

Loree Bohl is one special woman. Her blog, Danger Garden, was one of the first gardening blogs I started to follow, and it has had a lasting impact on my own garden and my personal plant preferences. But Loree is not just a talented writer and photographer, she's also a truly gifted gardener. If there was a Gardening Hall of Fame, I'd start a campaign to get her inducted.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out in Portland with Loree, Mark and Gaz of Alternative Eden, Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery, and a bunch of other plant nerds. Needless to say it was a blast, and I came home with a nice assortment of plants.

Since I was staying with Loree, her husband Andrew, and their adorable chug Lila, I had ample opportunity to poke around in the Danger Garden. In this post I'll show you the front garden. In a future post, I'll take you around into the back garden. The two areas are quite different, but they're united by Loree's sharp eye for design. She appears to know instinctively which plants look good next to each other and how to combine seemingly disparate plants in ways that continue to surprise and delight me. Fortunately for all of us, she's a prolific blogger and shares tales from the Danger Garden five times a week.

Loree grows a huge variety of plants from all over the world. Many have sculptural leaves, others produce gorgeous flowers, and yet others have unusual bark or some other characteristic that makes them special. Growing among them all are the spiky rebels that gave the Danger Garden its name. It's no coincidence that the blog's byline is "Careful, you could poke an eye out." While I'm fairly certain that that has never happened, I do know that more than one unsuspecting visitor has lost some blood.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Baby steps in the garden

Our garden will never be "finished." It took me a while to realize this. I used to think, "as soon as we're done with this project, the garden will finally be done." But nothing is ever static in a garden. Plants continue to grow and need to be managed.

Sometimes "managing" involves the most drastic of measures: complete removal. That's what I did in the front yard, in the bed inside the fence. It used to be home to things like salvias, globe mallows and similar perennials (2010 2011 2013 2016). They look great in late spring. But by the end of summer they're rangy and ratty. And in the winter many of them go dormant. I finally had enough and took virtually all of them out in the spring. I only left the Meyer lemon, the 'Golden Tulip' leucadendron to the right of it, and the 'Jester' leucadendron and white sage to the left.

This is what the area looked like on Saturday,September 23, 2017:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Revisiting John Kuzma's fusion garden in Portland, OR: agaves, bananas, and much more

I spent a fantastic weekend in Portland, OR hanging out with friends and doing all kinds of plant-related things. Fellow blogger Loree "Danger Garden" Bohl had arranged a visit to the garden of John Kuzma. His garden, created in collaboration with Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery, was one of my favorite destinations on the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling, and I was excited to see it again three years later.

The Yucca rostrata in the front garden have definitely grown!


Check out my post from 2014 to see the difference.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Succulents and more at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Last Saturday, after I had safely stowed my haul from the Ruth Bancroft Garden plant sale in my car, my camera and I took a leisurely stroll through the garden.

I didn't have to go far for my first photo stop. These beauties caught my eye right at the garden entrance:

Backlit cactus always make for great photos

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Big plant sale at Ruth Bancroft Garden before the nursery moves

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA is about to undergo what might be the biggest change since Ruth Brancroft first started it in 1972. In just a few days, construction will begin on the $4.6 million Visitor and Education Center. This will give the Garden much-needed indoor space for events, classes, and offices. And there will finally be indoor restrooms--no more porta potties!

To make room for the construction, the existing nursery will move to the north side of the garden. It will occupy one half of Ruth's Folly and one of the greenhouses next to it. Before the move, the nursery is holding its biggest sale ever. On Friday, plants were 20% off, yesterday 35%, and today (Sunday, September 10) 50%. If you're in Northern California, you still have time to head on over; the sale runs until 4pm today. Click here for more details.

Agave montana at the entrance to the garden. It's pushing a massive flower stalk and will die after flowering.