Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Exploring the Ruth Bancroft Garden, October 2015 edition

It’s become a tradition now: At each Ruth Bancroft Garden plant sale, I first pick out the plants I want, then I stroll through the garden to see what’s new and revisit old favorites.

It was no different last Saturday. Since I had to get raffle plants for the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society, I spent even more time than usual looking at all the plants. Plus, I had nice chats with RBG staff, including nursery manager Troy McGregor and garden curator Brian Kemble, and with Kathy Stoner who blogs at http://gardenbook-ks.blogspot.com/. I was hoping I’d run into Kathy, and I did. One of these days I’ll make it to Napa to see her garden.

My stroll begins at the large clump of Agave franzosinii near the porta-potty and follows no particular route. “Wandering about aimlessly” would we be a good description. For this reason, the photos below are in no particular order, but that should heighten the sense of discovery.

Enjoy!

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Agave franzosinii with a flower stalk the size of a small tree. Agave franzosinii is one the largest agave species. It can grow up to 8 ft. tall and 10 ft. wide.

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Agave parrasana. This specimen in the bed near the information kiosk outside the office is particularly striking.

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Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and Leucophyta brownii (the silvery clumps that look like tumbleweed). I think this is a very effective combination.

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Agave titanota (the real deal from Rancho Tambor as described by Howard Gentry)

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Mature fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis)

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Ochagavia litoralis, a terrestrial bromeliad from Chile (hardy to 20°F, too!). Check out this write-up on the RBG web site if you’re interested in this rarely seen plant.

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Ochagavia litoralis flower

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Agave victoria-reginae

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Agave nickelsiae. Formerly known as Agave ferdinandi-regis, this is a close relative of Agave victoria-reginae.

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Labeled Agave verschaffelti, a synonym for Agave potatorum

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Agave horrida

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Possibly Aloe fosteri

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Silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa) and palo verde (Parkinsonia sp.)

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Silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa)

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LEFT: Flower spikes from Dasylirion wheeleri  RIGHT: Old man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus)?

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One of my favorite spots in the garden

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This prickly pear looks like a sculpture!

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Close-up

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Queensland bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris)

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Dyckia seed pods

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Palm tree seedling growing among a clump of prickly pears

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Agave trio: (from l to r) Agave ‘Cornelius’, Agave parrasana, Agave xylonacantha

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Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) in front of NOID agave

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Agave colorata

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Agave titanota, much greener than the alabaster white form you saw above

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Cactus bed

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More cactus

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Yucca ‘Bright Star’ on the edge of another cactus bed

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Agave franzosinii

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Cycad in front of a row of Agave mitis

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LEFT: Aloe reitzii  RIGHT: NOID Gasteria

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Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

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Great place to sit for a spell, especially if you’re blue :-)

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Echeveria cante

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Agave weberi, the “gentlest” of the larger agaves (the leaves are virtually toothless)

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Dwarf grass tree (Xanthorrhoea nana)

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LEFT: Agave colorata × parrasana  RIGHT: Agave parrasana with an emerging flower stalk

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Majestic snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)

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Our Lord’s candle (Hesperoyucca whipplei), arguably the most striking succulent native to California

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Fruit-laden pricky pears (Opuntia sp.)

The next plant sale at the Ruth Bancroft Garden won’t be until next April, but the garden (and the nursery!) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm. The nursery is well stocked year round and offers one of the best selections of succulents and southern hemisphere plants anywhere in Northern California.

12 comments:

  1. The RBG is looking good! Plants look well cared for and healthy.

    That Brachychiton sure has grown a bunch in 2 years. The Huntington just planted a bunch of them near the new entrance area. Thank you for the tour. I enjoyed seeing it again and hopefully I'll get to visit again. Great you got to visit with Kathy, too.

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    1. The garden is looking really good. Imagine what it will look like when the Visitor and Education Center opens! I think the new event space will take the RBG to the next level.

      It sure was great seeing Kathy!

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  2. We took mostly different photos Gehard, I was really interested in the new bed over along the North entrance-in fact really excited about all the new beds.

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    1. Kathy, can't wait to see your photos. Will you put them on your blog?

      The area near the north entrance sure has seen a lot of changes. I love all the agaves they've planted there. It'll be stunning in a few more years.

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  3. All that and Kathy too? You lucky devil.

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    1. Hey, the opportunities we have for socializing are nothing compared to what Portland has to offer :-).

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  4. Beautiful specimens. I really have to get there one day.

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    1. Field trip!!! Combine it with a visit to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley and Annie's Annuals!

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  5. What a charmer that dwarf xanthorrea is. I almost brought home a xylonacantha today because it was in an inexpensive gallon, but talk about the antithesis of a "gentle" agave! I need to try to catch up with you and Kathy here, maybe spring 2016.

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    1. I'd love to find a source for Xanthorrea nana. I'll have to ask Troy at the RBG nursery where they got it from. It would be perfect in my front yard.

      Please let me know the next time you're in Northern California. Would love to meet up.

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  6. These wonderful photos look as if they could have been taken four, not four hundred, miles from me. The cactus...! Lots of ceibas down the hill from me -- I love them. That Ochagavia litoralis is VERY cool. What a terrific garden -- and it sounds like it's getting even better by the minute.

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    1. The RBG is a very special place for Northern California succulent lovers. It truly is a slice of the desert, right at the foot of Mount Diablo.

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