Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 Succulent Extravaganza wrap-up, part 1

This might be my biggest post ever as far as the number of photos is concerned. I took well over 300 pictures at the recent 2014 Succulent Extravaganza held at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, CA, and it took much longer than expected to go through them all.

This post contains photos of the nursery grounds and the retail greenhouse. Part 2 is about the succulent-themed demonstration gardens installed by top landscape designers.

If you haven’t been to a Succulent Extravaganza, or haven’t seen my posts about previous years’ events, you’re in for quite a treat. Succulent Gardens is the premier succulent nursery in Northern California, growing more than 400 different varieties on three acres just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. The selection is huge, and no matter what kinds of succulents you’re partial to, you’re likely to find something to tickle your fancy. (I will say, though, that for some reason their selection of agaves was smaller this year than before.)

Let’s start our tour in the parking lot. Usually I don’t pay much attention to other cars, but these two jumped out at me:

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I believe this was on Michael Romero’s truck

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I wonder if anybody in California has the license plate I ♥ AGAVES?

Crossing Elkhorn Road, you won’t miss this stunning display of aeoniums and Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripe’. Usually I’m not a fan of ‘Kara’s Stripe’ because the leaves tend to look sickly, but these are fantastic.

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Next you’ll see the main entrance.

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But we’re not ready to go in yet. Let’s continue our stroll along Elkhorn Road to check out the jaw-dropping agave plantings. Here you’ll find Agave ‘Mr Ripple’, Agave franzosinii, Agave stricta, Agave ‘Blue Glow’, Agave ‘Confederate Rose’, Agave bracteosa, Agave parryi, and who knows what else.

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LEFT: Agave ‘Mr Ripple’   MIDDLE: Agave franzosinii   FRONT: Agave stricta

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Agave ‘Mr Ripple’ and Agave stricta

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Agave ‘Mr Ripple’ and Agave stricta

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Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and Agave ‘Confederate Rose’

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Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and Agave ‘Confederate Rose’

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Agave bracteosa and Agave parryi

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Now let’s walk around the other side of the nursery and look at the plantings along Amaral Road.

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This is Agave ‘Blue Flame’ heaven. The smaller plants in the foreground are mostly Agave parryi, with a few Agave guadalajarana thrown in.

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Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave parryi

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Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave parryi

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NOID aloe, quite a beauty!

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A little further up the road, beyond the other nursery entrance, you’ll come across a mixture of Agave franzosinii (powder blue) and Agave titanota (almost white). This form of Agave franzosinii is smaller than the massive form growing at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

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This is the most striking form of Agave titanota, in my opinion

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Agave titanota

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Agave americana ‘Striata’, pupping freely

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Now let’s walk into the nursery from Elkhorn Road. These tables were packed during lunchtime and the Friday afternoon BBQ.

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Plants every everywhere. Most of them are for sale.

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One of the most beautiful specimens of Agave bovicornuta I’ve ever seen for sale. I should have snagged it!

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Aloe distans with its capitate flower head (some now consider Aloe distans a variety of Aloe perfoliata, just like Aloe mitriformis, but I won’t go into taxonomical hair-splitting here)

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Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’

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Agave attenuata

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Lots of aeoniums

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Along the barn I spotted these three uprooted Agave ovatifolia. They weren’t labeled in any way, but I assume they were dug up for a customer. Beautiful specimens for sure.

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In front of the Shade House is a small planting that I’m always drawn to:

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Ferocactus peninsulae

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Walking north along the side of Greenhouse 2 you’ll soon get to one of the most amazing features of Succulent Gardens: the Aloe polyphylla bed. I have never seen so many spiral aloes in one place, and all of them seem to be thriving in Castroville’s mild coastal climate.

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Just beyond the Aloe polyphylla bed, in front of Greenhouse 3, is a row of Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’ (also sold as ‘Nova’), all of them virtually perfect. I assume these are available for sale if anybody wants a landscape-sized specimen.

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Now let’s take a left between Greenhouse 2 and Greenhouse 3. The first thing you’ll see is a row of Aloe ‘Hercules’, with Aloe brevifolia and Aloe distans in the foreground.

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Aloe ‘Hercules’, Aloe brevifolia, Aloe distans

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Aloe distans

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Next you’ll arrive at another unforgettable sight: a long row of Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave ‘Blue Glow’. This might be the most photographed spot in the entire nursery.

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At the far side of the production greenhouses you’ll see rows upon rows of potted succulents. I’m not sure I was supposed to be back here, but the path wasn’t blocked off.

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Adjacent to Succulent Gardens is a huge strawberry field. Strawberries thrive in this area. In fact, the nearby town of Watsonville is known as the strawberry capital of California.

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Next we’ll walk back to the main nursery area and then enter Greenhouse 1, the retail greenhouse, from the entrance next to the Shade House. The rock wall planted with echeverias and the row of fan aloes (Aloe plicatilis) on top are very photogenic, as are the potted arrangements for sale.

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Now we’re in the retail greenhouse. This is where you’ll find everything from pots and accessories to plants. Lots and lots of plants.

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Monstrose form of the totem pole cactus (Pachycereus schottii)

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Aloe barbadensis, the “original” Aloe vera. I don’t find it particularly attractive, as far as aloes go, and it’s quite cold-sensitive. But it’s still a popular house plant and produces a high-quality sap that can be used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.

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Stalactite plant (Kalanchoe ‘Fang’)

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Lots and lots of echeverias

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Echeveria ‘Purple Pearl’

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Ruffles or no ruffles, what do you prefer?

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Ruffled echeverias

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I love the patterns formed by so many small plants packed together

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So, are you suffering from succulent overload? Or are you eager to look at more photos from the 2014 Succulent Extravaganza? Check out part 2 of my recap for photos of the newly installed demonstration gardens.

22 comments:

  1. Ohhh nooo Gerhard, please stop torturing me with so many good looking succulents I can´t grow in Madrid or find in Lima!!! :P

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    1. Oh no, I don't want to torture you! The next time you're in California, you MUST go to Succulent Gardens. It's only about 2 hrs from San Francisco. They're open every day except Sunday.

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  2. Fantastic photos! You got many that I didn't think of. Well done!

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    1. Thanks, Candy! Just like I'm sure you photographed many things I didn't see :-).

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  3. THANKS to the hard working, phenomenal TEAM SG! You built, planted, weeded, watered, primped, arranged, priced, labeled, for months to get ready. YOU were SO patient with our questions. YOU made it a wonderful 'out-of-the-ordinary-world' experience! You're terrific.

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    1. My sentiments exactly! The Succulent Gardens team did a fantastic job - as did the many Monterey Master Gardeners who volunteered.

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  4. Fabulous Gerhard!! I'm not surprised at all that you took so many photos as you have surrounded by so many spiky beauties! I'll have to go and look through your photos again tonight, so much beauty to take in...

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    1. I'm glad Succulent Gardens is "only" three acres, otherwise I would take even more photos!

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  5. What a place! Some nursery gardens seem like afterthoughts, not very inspiring. I don't know how you could visit this place and not want to fill your car with succulents though! Can't wait to see more!

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    1. Oh, I'm tempted every time I visit. But the fact that I have so little space left in my own garden does limit what I buy.

      I'm very excited about the new demonstration gardens. Volunteers will document their progress over the coming year.

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  6. OH MY GOD. I'm blown away. Gerhard, I'm in love with all of your photos. So gorgeous, I pinned a couple of these, thank you thank you :)

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    1. Thank you! At Succulent Gardens it's hard to take a BAD picture :-).

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  7. Overload, in a good way. Someday I will finally visit SG, someday.

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    1. I felt overwhelmed when editing my photos. Too much too take in!

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  8. I had to laugh seeing Mr. Ripple -- everyone thinks this is my pet name for this agave! They always ask, But what's his real name? I wonder what the soil mix is in that spiral aloe bed. That is truly an amazing sight. Encore, encore!

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    1. According to San Marcos Growers, my go-to source for all things succulent, Mr Ripple, "thought to possibly be a cross between A. salmiana and A. protoamericana, was named by Wade Roitsch of Yucca Do Nursery who spotted the plant on a collecting trip east of Ciudad del Maiz in San Luis Potosi, Mexico." I think it's the perfect name.

      As for the soil in the spiral aloe bed, I don't know what exactly they use, but it looks very loose and light. The fact that the beds are raised also helps.

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  9. Incredible photos. I really should have followed you around the whole time and skipped the presentations. I didn't take as many photos this year. It's OK, I can look at yours any time I want. Bravo!!!!

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    1. Deana, I only caught two presentations. You were wise focusing on them instead of photos.

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  10. More photos, more, more. I must get to that next year. I must, I must, to see the polyphyllas.

    Ruffles or no ruffles, are you kidding? Both!

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    1. Yes, please come next year! Make a mini vacation out of it. Monterey is only 45 minutes away.

      I'm not a ruffles kind of guy (the exception being Ruffles potato chips), but I do like ruffled echeverias.

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  11. Wow, I really enjoyed this peek at the wondrous offerings. Wish I had been there, but hope to make it next year. I loved the ruffled echeverias too, and the gorgeous flats of plants, the walls starred with succulents, the elegant agaves, oh, everything. Thank you!

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    1. Sharon, it would be great to meet you next year! I plan on going :-).

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