Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2013 Succulent Extravaganza, part 1

This past Friday and Saturday, Succulent Gardens, Northern California’s premier grower of succulents, held their third annual Succulent Extravaganza at their growing grounds in Castroville. I had attended the first and second Succulent Extravaganza and wasn’t going to miss out on what has become one of the most anticipated events among succulent enthusiasts from all over California.

Last year’s event was attended by several thousand people. I don’t know what this year’s numbers were, but it seemed to me there were slightly fewer visitors. The greenhouses weren’t as crowded and the line at the cash registers wasn’t as long. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those attending. This is one event where you don’t have to hold back because you are among people who are most likely just as crazy as you are.

Aside from the social aspect (more on that later), the one thing I was most looking forward to seeing was the famous Succulent Globe. Designed by Robin Stockwell, owner of Succulent Gardens, it had been the centerpiece of the 2013 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. Be sure to read this article for all the details on this amazing creation made up of 30,000 (!) succulent cuttings.

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Yes, the Globe was amazing. I wish I could have a (much) smaller version myself. Maybe table-top sized!

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Robin has always been known for his vertical succulent creations. Winnie-the-Pooh was one I hadn’t seen before:

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Here’s a closeup of another vertical wall installation:

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Smaller frames and planters packed with small succulents had the same tapestry effect:

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No matter where I went, I was greeted by one beautiful vignette after another.

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Part 2 of my coverage of the 2013 Succulent Extravaganza has many more beauty shots. In this post I want to take you through the grounds and greenhouses so you can experience Succulent Gardens the way you might have if you had been there.

Let’s start outside. When you arrived, you would have come to the main entrance on Elkhorn Road…

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…or, if you’d walked up Amaral Road, you’d have seen this row of variegated agaves, many of them sporting a massive flower spike. (I’m still not sure, but I think these are Agave tequilana ‘Sunrise’.)

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Once inside the nursery, you would have seen these succulent sights:

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Or you might have spotted these wonderful helpers preparing the free BBQ on Friday afternoon:

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Inside the retail greenhouse, your head might have started to spin, not knowing where to look first:

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But the grounds and the retail greenhouse are just one part of Succulent Extravaganza. Just as awesome are the presentations and walks. I mentioned in Friday’s teaser that I attended Tony Krock’s talk on coring agaves; it was so groundbreaking for me that I wrote a separate post about it.

Another talk I attended was “The Succulent Landscape: Who, how, and Why” by Tom Jesch, owner of Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA. I will have a separate post about his presentation as well.

The most fun activity for me was the photo walk led by my friend Candy Suter. Many of you follow her on Facebook or read her blog, Sweetstuff’s Sassy Succulents. Candy is one the nicest, sweetest and most enthusiastic persons you will ever meet. She had quite a crowd on Saturday morning and I’m sure most people learned something new.

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As part of Candy’s group, I was able to explore the propagation greenhouses that are usually off limits to visitors. Many of the photos in part 2 were taken in those greenhouses. Here are two overview shots to give you a taste of the treasures within:

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Outside one of the propagation greenhouses I spotted these two jade plants. It’s not unusual to find old specimens like these in California…

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…but what is unusual is that these aren’t the regular Crassula ovata, they are cultivar ‘Gollum’. ‘Gollum’ has small leaves that are rolled up to form little tubes. These two specimens are the largest and oldest ‘Gollums’ I’ve ever seen. They were impressive.

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After Candy’s photo walk I poked around behind the propagation greenhouses and found endless rows of 1-gallon succulents happily growing in the Central California sun. Wherever I looked, I found something new I wanted. But I was very good and restrained myself. A good thing considering I have virtually no room left for new plants unless I remove something else first.

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On Saturday afternoon, garden designer Gary Bartl gave a talk on “Designing and Creating a Miniature Landscape with Succulents.” Unfortunately, I missed his presentation but here are several of his incredible potted arrangements. They were packed so densely with rose quartz and all manner of succulents that you couldn’t see any soil. Normally I’m not a big fan of colored rocks, but I was completely seduced by the rose quartz. Maybe I was feeling its “nourishing flow of loving energy.”

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I started this post talking about the succulent globe. Let’s go back there.

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Why? Because I want to show you a photo of these lovely people:

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They are some of the members of the Succulent Fanatics group on Facebook. I would have attended the 2013 Succulent Extravaganza no matter what, but being able to visit with old friends and finally meeting fellow enthusiasts whom I’d known through Facebook was the icing on the cake. (In the photo above, the guy in the dark red shirt is Robin Stockwell, the owner of Succulent Gardens and creator of the Globe.)

Here is the Succulent Fanatics table inside the retail greenhouse. A big thanks to Laura Balaoro and the others working behind the scenes. The table—and the banner!—was fantastic. I saw loads of people stopping to admire the succulent arrangements members had brought.

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Visor decorated by Ellyn Holloway

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Potted arrangement (left) by Shirley Kost, chair arrangement by Deana Rae McMillion

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Little Red Haired-Girl by Nancy Nygaard

If you love succulents and would like to join a group of like-minded people, as the banner says, head over to our Facebook page. It’s a closed group, but all you need to do is ask to join and Laura will add you to the group.

Part 2 of my coverage of 2013 Succulent Extravaganza has 50+ photos of nothing but succulent porn. Check it out!

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11 comments:

  1. It is probably a good job I don't live in the US, as I dread to think how much I would have spent with access to somewhere like that!
    I love all the vertical planting, and the row of flowering agaves on the way in.

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    1. Yeah, you could go broke in a nursery like this one! I was being careful since I have other plant sales to go to this fall, but I still came home with some very nice plants, including Agave montana, Agave guadalajarana, Sansevieria cylindrica, Peperomia dolabriformis, and Haworthia cymbiformis. Not to mention a bunch of cuttings from fellow Succulent Fanatics.

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  2. I was mentally drooling just looking at your photos and reading your blog. Wish we had something as grand as that here. And that globe is impressively doing so well and holding up despite being built months ago already. Looking forward to the next instalment!

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    1. Somebody told me the globe is watered once a week by an employee on a tall ladder. Fortunately, the weather in Castroville is mild year round.

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  3. It's obvious that you need a succulent wall Gerhard. Plenty of room left!

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    1. I do have plenty of room for a vertical installation. Now to find plants that would actually survive our summers with very little soil and water...

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  4. I'm so glad you liked the tour Gerhard and thanks for the shout out. What a great time we had and I love being able to visit with other succer's. Wonderful photos of the event. Today is my back procedure then I will be getting mine out too. Cant wait for more porn!

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  5. I'm so glad you liked the tour Gerhard and thanks for the shout out. What a great time we had and I love being able to visit with other succer's. Wonderful photos of the event. Today is my back procedure then I will be getting mine out too. Cant wait for more porn!

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  6. It was great hanging out with you Gerhard. You are one of the best bloggers ever. Can't wait to see part 2.

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  7. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow wow wow! sooooo beautiful!

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  8. This is the next best thing to being there!

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