Showing posts from January, 2012

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden: Mexican Collection

Last weekend, I visited the University of California Botanical Garden located on the campus of UC Berkeley to check out their ongoing plant clearance sale . After I had safely stowed my haul in my car, I decided to take a look at the Mexican and Central American collection, skipping my usual haunts, the Southern Africa section and the New World Desert . The Mexican and Central American collection recreates evergreen cloud forest and pine and oak woodland habitats. Most of it is forested, and lush ferns thrive in moist pockets. I’m not a tree expert, but many rare species of magnolias, pines and spruces are said to grow here. The main attraction for me were the succulents, the majority of which grow in sun-drenched clearings. Unlike the New World Desert, which looks like a man-made landscape, this section of the Garden has a very naturalistic look. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the Bay Area and not in some remote part of Mexico. The downside, if you can call it that, is that the

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden winter sale

Last week I received notice that the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley (UCBG) is having a “winter overstock sale” until February 5, 2012. Considering that plant sales are to plant aficionados what a red cape is to a bull, I had no choice but to go. The weather was perfect on Saturday and the views from the top of the UC Berkeley campus just stunning. The Botanical Garden is located a little lower than the spot where the photo below was taken and it doesn’t offer the same sweeping views, but you are able to catch glimpses of the Bay and San Francisco beyond from a few higher areas. View from the top of the UC Berkeley campus Before swooping down on the plant tables, I decided to take a few photos to give you an idea of what was available. I was mainly interested in succulents, and two tables were dedicated to succulents. The other tables were perennials and shrubs. I’m sure there are some unique plants to be found there, but I’m not enough of an expert to kn

Liberating succulents from smothering grasses

A few years ago—before I started this blog, which is why I have trouble remembering—I bought a six-pack of blue fescue ( Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’) and planted them in the two small succulent beds in the back yard. At that time, the succulents were small and there seemed to be a lot of space between them that begged to be filled. Fast forward to 2012. The blue fescue plugs are now clumps 12-18" across and, while attractive in their own right, are covering some of the succulents. After the recent rains, now is a great time for transplanting, and that’s exactly what I did. Succulent bed 1 In the first set of photos, you’ll see the succulent bed in the northeast corner of the backyard. It is shaded by a row of four bay trees planted against the fence so it only receives about 2-3 hours of direct sunlight in the summer, virtually none in the winter. This is not a logical spot for succulents, but to my surprise they’ve done well—except the fescues and the variegated feather ree