Monday, October 30, 2017

Turning 1 into 19: pot-bound Aloe suprafoliata

With its icy blue leaves, Aloe suprafoliata is a striking landscape plant, as seen here at UC Davis:

Four Aloe suprafoliata at the UC Davis (the flowering aloe with bluish leaves)

What attracts most people to this aloe species, however, is its juvenile form:

Juvenile Aloe suprafoliata at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory

Its botanical name, suprafoliata, actually means “leaves stacked on top of each other.” The common name in Afrikaans is boekaalwyn, literally “book aloe.” It’s easy to see why: the stacked leaves of a juvenile plant resemble the pages of an open book. As the plant matures, the leaves swivel into the rosette you see in the first photo.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sunset Magazine agave blurb makes me laugh

Sunset Magazine has been a staple in my life for what seems like decades (probably because it has been decades). Granted, I haven't been happy with the inexorable shift away from gardening towards lifestyle topics but I understand the pressures Sunset must be under to adapt and meet the needs of a changing demographic. Call it loyalty or habit, but I still read Sunset every month. Their garden- and plant-related articles are typically well written and equally well illustrated.

Perusing the November 2017 issue, I was excited to see a photo of agaves nestled in a bed of rosemary. Any blurb about agaves is a good thing in my book—agaves need all the help they can get to raise their profile in the gardening world.

As I was reading the short article that goes with the photo, I began to laugh.



Why?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Getting some of my plant sale purchases in the ground

Plant sales are like catnip to me. Winter and summer are safe because there are no sales. But spring and fall are full of temptations, and I generally can't resist. This usually results in a mess of nursery pots in the front yard. I leave my new purchases in a highly visible location so I'm reminded several times a day that they need to be put in the ground (or in larger pots).

In the last month I've accumulated more plants than usual because of two plants sales at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery and a trip to Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento. I did manage to plant the mangaves I bought at the first sale but the other stuff I got—and my new purchases from the second sale—were still there on the walkway near the front door.

Sunday was a perfect fall day, sunny with afternoon temperatures in the low 70s, so I got stuck in, as they say in the UK. I didn't get everything planted—mostly because I don't know yet where some plants will go—but I made good progress. Read on to see what I did.

Waiting to be planted

Friday, October 20, 2017

Another favorite tree: Acacia baileyana aka Cootamundra wattle

Succulents are fine by themselves, but they're even better when surrounded by companion plants that complement their shapes and textures and have similar cultivation needs. Based on what I get asked, it appears that many gardeners are interested in trees that go well with their succulents.

It's no secret that I love palo verdes, especially the thornless hybrids 'Desert Museum' and 'Sonoran Emerald'. We have three, and I'm happy to see that they're becoming more available in our local nurseries.

This post is about another tree that's near and dear to me: Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea'.

In my recent post about our front garden I briefly mentioned that we had planted an Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' to replace an unsightly, diseased 'Aristocrat' pear. Today I want to show you what this Australian native, which goes by the funny name of Cootamundra wattle in its homeland, looks like as a mature tree:


The grouping of Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' in these photos is in front of a doctor's office in Walnut Creek, not far from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

In-depth tour of the Succulents and More front garden

Last Saturday I hosted an open garden for members of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society. In preparation I did a fairly thorough clean-up of the front yard. I even hauled out the pressure washer and blasted away years of grime from the flagstone. The wind undid my raking and leaf-blowing efforts three times (grrrr), and in the end I simply had to accept the fact there were more stray leaves than I wanted. Such is the life of a gardener.

This coming Saturday I'm hosting the California Horticultural Society for coffee in the garden, so I'm able to kill two birds with one stone. In addition, the front garden is finally looking good enough to give you an in-depth tour. It's been a while since I did that.

There are 70+ photos in this post so grab your favorite drink and settle in for the duration. All photos are available in a higher-resolution version. Simply click any photo to access the lightbox view. From there you can scroll through all the images.

View from the street

Friday, October 13, 2017

Plant porn from the 2017 Succulent Extravaganza

As I always do, I took lots of photos at the 2017 Succulent Extravaganza held on September 29 and 30 at Succulent Gardens in Castroville on California's beautiful Central Coast.

My earlier post talked about this fantasticand free!event in more detail.

This post is nothing but plant porn from Succulent Gardens, Northern California's largest succulent grower. Most photos are of the demonstration gardens but a few are from inside the retail greenhouse where thousands upon thousands of plants are for sale.

Be warned: This is a long post, containing 70+ photos. Take your time. I promise you it's worth it.

Aeonium 'Sunburst' and Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light'. This is in the demonstration garden Andrea Hurd created for the 2015 Succulent Extravaganza.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mangaves and other goodies at UC Davis Arboretum fall plant sale

October 7 was the first plant sale of the season at the UC Davis Arboretum Teachning Nursery. I had printed out the plant list from their web site so I knew what to expect. (Their plant list is very handy because it contains not only brief information about each plant but also the aisle in the nursery where to find it, the price, and how many are in stock.)

I was thrilled to see that the plant sale inventory contained a number of new mangaves from Walters Gardens. Mangaves are crosses between the genus Agave (or, in many of these cases, another ×Mangave) and the genus Manfreda. I had several already, thanks to Loree aka Danger Garden who shared her mangave bounty with me earlier in the year, but there were some others I didn't have. I'm making a bold prediction right here and now: 2018 will the the year of the mangave! Many of these new hybrids will find their way into nurseries and, hopefully, into customers' gardens. Look for a dedicated mangave post soon.

Mangave bouty at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery fall plant sale

Friday, October 6, 2017

Aloes, aloes, aloes at UC Davis Botanical Conservatory pre-sale

Plant sale season is kicking into high gear. If you live on the Central Coast, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is having their fall plant sale on Saturday, October 14. For more info, visit their web site.

Much closer to home, the UC Davis Arboretum will kick off their fall sales tomorrow, Saturday, October 7 (9:00-11:00 for members, 11:00-1:00 for the public). There will also be a sale on Saturday, October 21 and a public clearance sale on Saturday, November 4. For more information and to download the inventory for each sale, visit their web site.

This morning, the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, an "interactive and multi-sensory museum containing a large diversity of live specimens relied on for teaching or research purposes," had their pre-sale. The tables were well stocked with succulents, carnivorous plants, houseplants, and the usual quirky assortment of oddities. The prices were great, too: $10 for 3 $4 plants, $20 for 7.

The Botanical Conservatory will have tables at all the UC Davis Arboretum plant sales, so if you missed today's pre-sale, visit them at any of the Arboretum plant sales. Their tables are usually in the back, at the far end of the nursery. Ernesto Sandoval and Marlene Simon will be on hand to answer all your questions.


Above is my haul from this morning's Botanical Conservatory pre-sale.

Monday, October 2, 2017

2017 Succulent Extravaganza was a blast

The 2017 Succulent Extravaganza at Succulent Gardens in Castroville, CA took place this past Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30. Both days were jam-packed with presentations, socalizing, looking at plants, and of course shopping. I didn't arrive until late afternoon on Friday so I missed out on Friday's activities. But I enjoyed a full day on Saturday visiting with old succulent friends and meeting new ones, taking photos of the wonderful plants at Succulents Gardens (the demonstration gardens looked better than ever), and listening to four presentations. I bought a few things, too, but oddly enough none of them were succulents.