Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bach’s Cactus Nursery, Tucson, AZ

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).

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Frost cloth and other means of protection against the cold were a common sight throughout the nursery:

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Styrofoam cups and nursery pots were put to good use to protect cacti, specifically their sensitive growing points.

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I found the results to be quite comical. I wonder if Santa hats would do the trick as well?

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I guess wind wasn’t an issue, otherwise the Styrofoam cups wouldn’t have stayed in place.

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But there was much more to see than just cacti sporting funny head covers.

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Yucca rostrata

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.

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Yucca rostrata

I love walking around such a large nursery (10 acres) that grows nothing but succulents. There are goodies wherever you look.

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Juvenile saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea)

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Echinopsis Big Bertha’, well-known for producing outsized white flowers

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Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)

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Agave weberi (I was tempted but this species gets LARGE, and I don’t have the room)

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Agave murpheyi ‘Rodney’ (apparently the same as the cultivar ‘Engard’)

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Toothless desert spoon (Dasylirion longissimum, or if you prefer, quadrangulatum)

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Looking back at the main retail area

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Monstrose Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus repandus) in front of a pile of potting mix

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Field-grown saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea)

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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.

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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.

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The trunk of Ceiba speciosa has pretty formidably armature

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The tree aloes were completely wrapped

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I don’t know if all these tree aloes are Aloidendron dichotomum (previously Aloe dichotoma), but this one definitely is

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It had been in full bloom in December 2013

More vignettes from the display garden:

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Opuntia ‘Santa Rita’

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Agave parryi var. truncata

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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.

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Demonstration bed in front of the retail area

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Sale plants

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1-gallon cacti for sale, $10 each. These must all be hardy because they weren’t protected.

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Inside one of the retail greenhouses. So much to see!

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Pretty darn perfect Mexican fence post specimens (Pachycereus marginatus)

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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.

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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!

RELATED POST:

2014 Desert Trip index

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for thinking of me! I'm thinking another RV trip might be in the plans for 2015, and the southwest might be the route...

    I might go crazy at a $10 table like that.

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    1. A Southwest road trip sounds fantastic. I still have fond memories of ours in 2012. I'd go again in a heartbeart, but I think we'll head to British Columbia this summer instead.

      In Tucson, there's also B&B Cactus Farm, which I visited in 2012, and Plants for the Southwest, which unfortunately I didn't have time for this time around.

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  2. You've certainly been to loads of interesting spiky places over the past few weeks Gerhard, were amazed at all the photos you've been sharing! Another fab nursery, even with protection all over they can't hide the beauty of their specimens.

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    1. I wouldn't mind coming back in another life as a nursery cat at Bach's!

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  3. I have the fondest memories of visiting here on our last big swing through Arizona. And I've been dropping numerous hints and thus we're starting to talk about an Arizona vacation, yes! It's been to long. Of course we'll be flying so my haul will be limited.

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    1. Wouldn't it be funny if you and Alan (see his comment above) ended up in Arizona at the same time? Or, if you go next winter, you may run into me there!

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  4. I love this photo tour! I have always like Tucson. I am putting this on my list of nursery's and gardens I want to visit. You didn't show us what came home with you : ) It has been a long time since I took a road trip from Houston to San Diego to visit my Mom. It is so peaceful because it is 24 hours of nearly all desolate dessert. And now we have a road worthy truck with back seats and a lockable bed...that could be dangerous!!!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying my photos and posts. There's nothing I like better than being an enabler :-) You have no excuse now NOT to take that road trip!

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  5. Great nursery! I'm going to share your photos of the the frost-protection methods with a friend who had extensive damage from the recent hit taken by her area. I'm lucky that my own area rarely gets anywhere near that cold.

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    1. Kris, at first glance the Styrofoam cups and plastic nursery pots look silly but they seem to work. My next post will be about the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (look for it either today, 1/15/15, or tomorrow), and you'll see things like dog food and bird seed bags used to protect cacti.

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