Friday, February 7, 2014

Plant sale at UC Botanical Garden Landscape Cacti and Succulents Nursery

Few people seem to know that the Landscape Cacti and Succulents Nursery (LCSN) at the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley is open for public sales the first Thursday of the month from 10:30 to 1:30. Yesterday, February 6, was the first public sale of 2014 and I happened to be there. I want to add more agaves to the planting strip outside our front yard fence, and I was looking for larger specimens (at least 1 gallon, preferably larger). Several species on the LCSN availability list had caught my eye.

The entrance to the LCSN is right across the street from the garden entrance.

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Entrance to UC Botanical Garden

Look for the black gate you see in the next photo and walk right through to the back. That’s where the plants are. If the gate is locked, ask the employee at the garden entrance to page the LCSN volunteer on duty.

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Entrance to LCSN

Plants are available in a variety of sizes, from 4-inch to 5-gallon. Prices are great, considering how uncommon many of these plants are. 4-inch plants are typically in the $6 range, 1 gallons $12, 2 gallons $18, 5 gallons $30 and up.

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One of many sale tables. The watering can made me laugh—it was raining when I took these photos.

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Agave colorata × bovicornuta. Doesn’t look like much, but check out the potential!

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Assorted agaves

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Agave guadalajarana ‘Leon’. This is the same cultivar I bought at Succulent Gardens in Castroville last fall. Mine sustained leaf edema when I had it sitting in the hot car for a full day (not sunburn, as I first suspected). The specimens at the LCSN were better, but they had some of the same lesions.

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Assorted cacti

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave franzosinii, a stunning plant but they get biiiiig!

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Agave parryi var. parryi

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Aloe plicatilis in 5-gallon containers. You don’t often see specimens this large for sale (“large” being a relative term, considering their potential when planted in the ground).

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FOREGROUND: Agave attenuata

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Lots of agaves

My biggest find of the day was an Agave attenuata with striking yellow variegation. Needless to say I quickly grabbed it for myself. Thanks to tissue culture, some variegated Agave attenuata cultivars are quite easy to find now, especially ‘Ray of Light’ (on the right in the photo below) and the barely variegated ‘Kara’s Stripe’ (which to me looks anemic). However, truly variegated specimens like “mine” are rare and typically quite costly.

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LEFT (front): Agave ‘Cornelius’, MIDDLE: Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’, RIGHT: Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’

I had sworn to stay away from Agave attenuata because it is so wimpy—blemishes on the leaves start to appear at 32°F and the entire plant dies when temperatures drop below 28°F. I lost a ‘Ray of Light’ in December when I foolishly forgot to cover it, and my ‘Boutin Blue’ (a striking blue cultivar) has a myriad spots on its leaves even though I had covered it.

But who can resist a beauty like this one? I certainly couldn’t. It’ll live in a pot, and it’ll come inside when temperatures drop into the mid-30s. I do not want it to get disfigured in any way.

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Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’

My second biggest find was a close-to-mature Agave macroacantha. Apparently garden staff had recently dug up a clump, and they were now for sale bare root.

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Agave macroacantha

I had greatly admired Agave macroacantha on my recent Arizona trip but couldn’t find a specimen for sale that would have been suitable for shipping. This is a relatively small agave, with individual rosettes topping out at 12-16” in diameter. Clumps can be 3-4 ft. across but that is easy enough to control—simply remove any offsets you don’t want.

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Absolutely perfect Agave macroacantha. This is the one I chose.

Here is my haul of the day. Notice the fantastic Aloe cameronii. Its lobster red coloration is out of this world.

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My purchases:

Aloe cameronii

Agave macroacantha

Agave ovatifolia

Agave parrasana

Agave colorata (with 8 pups)

Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’

The next public sale at the Landscape Cacti and Succulent Nursery will be on Thursday, March 6, barring unforeseen circumstances. Keep an eye on http://ucbglcs.blogspot.com/ for up-to-date information and availability lists.

By the way, the aloes at the UC Botanical Garden were in full bloom. I’ll have a separate post this weekend.

12 comments:

  1. That variegated Agave attenuata is jaw droppingly gorgeous Gerhard! So lucky you got it!!

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    1. I feel VERY lucky. Maybe this means that they will become more widely available? The variegation is so much more dramatic than in 'Kara's Stripe'.

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  2. That macroacantha looks amazing! Can't wait to see where you put it -- instant impact! Hope you didn't pay more than you wanted for it...

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    1. I have the perfect spot for it. Outside the front yard fence near a globe artichoke that has been growing like crazy, even with no water.

      The volunteer overseeing the sale was very interested in making a deal so I ended up getting it for a third less than she initially asked :-).

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  3. Great haul! And yes, that A. macroacantha is amazing!!!

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    1. I measured the Agave macroacantha I got: it's 18 inches in diameter! Wowza.

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  4. Both the Agave Attenuata and Macroacantha are just beautiful. Great find and buy.

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    1. Thanks, Lana. I'm very excited I found them. I love going to plant sales not knowing ahead of time what I might come across.

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  5. Oh my gosh you got some absolutely beautiful plants!

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    1. If you ever need larger plants for the landscape, let me know and I'll go with you!

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  6. I've been following your blog for a while and I'm wondering if you can suggest any nursery in California where I can buy the Agave attenuata variegata. I'm visiting the US and I can't find this in Portugal where I live but I would love to have one of these beauties. I have pics of my succulents on my blog, http://o-bau-do-zejulio.blogspot.com/

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    1. Olá, Júlio. Agave attenuata 'Variegata' is very hard to find. Mine rotted (too much water) and I haven't been able to find one since then.

      Will you be in Southern California on your trip? San Marcos Growers, a wholesale grower in Santa Barbara, has it listed on their website: http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3479. They don't sell to the public, but you could find out from them which retail nursery in Southern California might have it.

      Sorry I can't be of more help.

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