Bach’s Cactus Nursery (8602 North Thornydale Road, Tucson, AZ 85742) was my first stop in Tucson on my recent desert road trip. I’d visited this nursery in December 2013 and couldn’t wait to go back. The weather was much different this time: overcast, noticeably colder, with rain in the forecast (which arrived that afternoon and then turned to snow overnight).
Frost cloth and other means of protection against the cold were a common sight throughout the nursery:
Styrofoam cups and nursery pots were put to good use to protect cacti, specifically their sensitive growing points.
I found the results to be quite comical. I wonder if Santa hats would do the trick as well?
I guess wind wasn’t an issue, otherwise the Styrofoam cups wouldn’t have stayed in place.
But there was much more to see than just cacti sporting funny head covers.
As always, I was immediately drawn to these impressive beaked yuccas (Yucca rostrata). Price aside, they were much too large to fit into my Nissan Murano.
I love walking around such a large nursery (10 acres) that grows nothing but succulents. There are goodies wherever you look.
Juvenile saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea)
Echinopsis ‘Big Bertha’, well-known for producing outsized white flowers
Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Agave weberi (I was tempted but this species gets LARGE, and I don’t have the room)
Agave murpheyi ‘Rodney’ (apparently the same as the cultivar ‘Engard’)
Toothless desert spoon (Dasylirion longissimum, or if you prefer, quadrangulatum)
Looking back at the main retail area
Monstrose Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus repandus) in front of a pile of potting mix
Field-grown saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea)
You pick, they dig
Like last time, I was fascinated by the many pieces of petrified wood all over the nursery. Some are cut, with the top surface polished, most are raw chunks. There even were some sizable logs. From what I remember, the petrified wood came from the estate of a collector, and it is for sale.
The display garden contains not only mature specimens of cacti, agaves and tree aloes, but also several silk floss trees (Ceiba speciosa). The last time I was there they still had some flowers, this time they were bare except for the pods that eventually break open to release cotton-like “silk floss” mixed with pea-sized seeds.
The trunk of Ceiba speciosa has pretty formidably armature
The tree aloes were completely wrapped
I don’t know if all these tree aloes are Aloidendron dichotomum (previously Aloe dichotoma), but this one definitely is
It had been in full bloom in December 2013
More vignettes from the display garden:
Opuntia ‘Santa Rita’
Agave parryi var. truncata
Check out the native soil at the nursery. They probably curse it, but I think it’s dreamy: sandy, well draining, so suitable for succulents.
After walking around and taking photos, I spent some time in the retail area picking out plants for the February raffle at the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society and for myself. The staff I spoke with was so nice (and knowledgeable!), I didn’t want to leave. While I’m perfectly fine exploring on my own (and usually prefer it that way), it’s great having somebody nearby who can answer questions. Bach’s should be proud to have such wonderful folks working for them.
Demonstration bed in front of the retail area
1-gallon cacti for sale, $10 each. These must all be hardy because they weren’t protected.
Inside one of the retail greenhouses. So much to see!
Pretty darn perfect Mexican fence post specimens (Pachycereus marginatus)
Aloidendron ramosissimum (formerly Aloe ramosissima). Alan, I thought of you when I saw these, knowing you were looking for one. Too large to ship, unfortunately.
Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) growing right in the ground inside the greenhouse. I assume they grow faster that way than in containers.
Visiting a place like Bach’s Cactus Nursery was a rare treat for me; with the exception of Succulent Gardens in Castroville, we don’t really have anything like it in Northern California. During my entire visit I was thinking what a dream it would be to start a new garden in a place like Tucson and shop for plants at a place like Bach’s!