Instead of dealing with the aftermath of the cold snap that has gripped us since Thursday of last week, I decided to write the first extended post from my trip to Arizona last week.
The first destination we’re going to revisit is Bach’s Cactus Nursery in Tucson. From a post Loree “Danger Garden” Bohl had written in December 2011 I already had an idea of what to expect. But I wasn’t prepared for the size of the nursery. It’s large! In fact, the friendly employee who gave me a ride on one of their electric carts told me that at 10 acres it’s the third largest cactus nursery in the country. (I don’t know what the largest two are.)
Let’s start at the entrance and work our way through the nursery.
I love the colorful clump of Santa Rita prickly pear (Opuntia ‘Santa Rita’) at the entrance
Desert silhouettes in metal gate
Cactus galore from the second you enter the parking lot…
…and talavera pots!
Mexican fencepost cactus (Pachycereus marginatus), $80 for 5 gallon plants
More columnar cacti
Yucca decipiens—what a beauty
Yucca linearifolia—not shabby either
The employee took me to this silk-floss tree was still in bloom.
Silk-floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), assorted cacti, and petrified wood
Silk-floss tree flower (Ceiba speciosa)
The beautiful Aloe dichotoma in the next few photos was just getting ready to bloom. Being quite frost-sensitive, it gets wrapped when temperatures drop below freezing.
Flowering Aloe dichotoma and petrified wood
But plants aren’t the only exciting feature in this part of the nursery: Wherever you look there are huge pieces of petrified wood! Most of it came from an estate of a collector, and it is for sale. I didn’t ask about pricing, but I can’t imagine it’s cheap. Still, I would love to have a few pieces in my garden. The colors scream desert!
Petrified wood close-up
More petrified wood
Petrified wood and organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi)
Among the many mature succulents planted throughout the nursery these were my favorites:
Queen Victoria agave (Agave regina-victoriae)
Agave parryi var. truncata
Dioon edule and azurite. I think cycads mix really well with succulents.
Cactus bed in display garden
Dioon edule and golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)
One of the largest golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) I’ve ever seen
LEFT: Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) with polished petrified wood
RIGHT: Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ with rose quartz
Clump of unlabeled Mammillaria with volcanic (?) rock
One entire section of the nursery is dedicated to growing saguaros in the ground. I suppose customers pick the ones they want, and they are then dug up to order.
Saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) growing in the ground
Saguaros growing in the ground
Smaller ones were for sale in 5-gallon plants. Considering that saguaros are extremely slow-growing (it takes them about 100 years to grow their first arm), I‘d want to start out with something bigger.
Potted saguaro, $30 for 5-gallon plants
More cacti lined up outside the propagation greenhouses:
Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus peruvianus)
Prickly pear galore
Bach’s carries some agaves and other succulents, like ones below, but their focus clearly is on cacti.
Sticks on fire (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’)
Here’s what you might find inside the propagation greenhouses:
Flats upon flats of what looks like Hoodia gordonii, a member of the stapeliad family
Baby golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii)
Plants that are ready for sale go in a different greenhouse:
Greenhouse with cacti ready for sale
Cactus for sale in retail greenhouse
Monstrose cacti (left: Cereus hildmannianus?, right: Lophocereus schottii)
Monstrose form of Cereus hildmannianus?
If the logistics of transporting plants back to California hadn’t been an issue, I would have bought a few of those monstrose cactus you see in the last couple of photos. I don’t know why, but I find them oddly intriguing.
Alas, they were too tall and too heavy to ship, so I drove off with nothing but my photos and memories. (That sounds a bit like a melodramatic country song in the making, doesn’t it?)
Bach’s Cactus Nursery is located at 8602 N Thornydale Rd, Tucson, AZ 85742. They don’t currently seem to have a web site, but you can reach them at (520) 744-3333.