Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making pots, the conclusion

Last August I blogged about making pots at the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS). In October we glazed our pots, and in yesterday’s meeting we planted them.

Considering that most members had never made a pot before, the results were anything but dull. Most people went for a free-form look; nobody attempted to make a “perfect” pot. Here are some examples:



Monday, February 25, 2013

Nodding euphorbias

In my gardening calendar, spring is here when the Mediterranean spurge (Euphorbia characias and related species) begins to bloom. My three plants are in the “nodding” stage where the flower heads hang down like somebody about to fall asleep. I love how they bob in the wind!

As I continue to be occupied with a large project at work, I haven’t been able to do any real gardening lately. Walking around and enjoying the nodding euphorbias is the best I can do at the moment. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon!


Euphorbia × martinii ‘Tiny Tim’

Thursday, February 21, 2013

High Country Gardens is back

Look what showed up in my inbox today:


An email from High Country Gardens!

Not even three months ago I thought they were going out of business and we would lose the country’s premier mail-order nursery for waterwise plants.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paranoid about golden barrel cactus

This morning, as I was reading the paper at the dining room table, I happened to glance out onto the front porch. Somehow the large golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) I’d found on the clearance rack at Lowe’s two years ago caught my eye. Is my vision playing tricks on me or does it look a little less round than before?


February 19, 2013


February 19, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day


My mother-in-law’s tongue is dead

I know the title of this post sounds a bit morbid, especially on Valentine’s Day, but I couldn’t help myself. I just love the name “mother-in-law’s tongue,” and, well, mine is dead.

I’m not talking about my real mother-in-law, whom I love dearly and who fortunately is very much alive, or any of her body parts. Rather, I’m talking about my Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’. This is a shorter and more compact version of the popular mother-in-law’s tongue.

Mine lived on the front porch where it did really well. Until winter came. While in absolutely terms this winter has been fairly mild—the low recorded at our house was only 28°F—Sansevieria trifasciata apparently can’t even handle that.

In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that 28°F is too cold for it. The fact that it’s typically kept as a houseplant should have been a dead giveaway.

This is what my plant looks like now:


Not so pretty anymore.

This won’t stop me from trying again, but I will definitely bring the next one inside when it gets below 40°F.

P.S. For some reason I thought Sansevieria trifasciata was native to tropical Central America but it’s actually from tropical West Africa.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ blooming for Valentine’s Day

It’s the day before Valentine’s Day. I just got back from our neighborhood grocery store, and I had a hard time making my way through the greeting card aisle (my shortcut to the bakery section) because there were dozens of shopping cards filled with cut flowers in anticipation of brisk business later today and tomorrow.

Among the many bouquets, I spotted some leucadendrons, which, together with proteas, have become quite popular in the cut-flower trade. After I got back from the store, I decided to check on the Leucadendron salignum × laureolum ‘Safari Sunset’ in our front yard. Lo and behold, it’s finally blooming!


While it’s still a juvenile plant and not as impressive as it will eventually be, I loved seeing the reddish bracts wide open to reveal the actual flower within.


From now on, I will always associated Valentine’s Day with flowering leucadendrons!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stretched thin

As you may have noticed, my posts have been become increasingly intermittent this past month. Due to an ongoing project at work that is taking up a lot of my time as well as other commitments at home, I feel stretched unsually thin. Much like this Aeonium arboreum ‘Atropurpureum’ in the succulent bed along the driveway.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

UC Davis Botanical Conservatory greenhouses

On Saturday I went on a field trip with the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society to tour the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory greenhouses. According to their web site:

The collection began in 1959 as a collection of coleus plants within the 3,600 sq. foot greenhouse now known as the Botanical Conservatory. Today, the complex north of Storer Hall serves the University and public communities as an educational facility, research resource and genetic diversity preserve. The complex houses over 3,000 plant species in more than 150 families, including examples from most of the world's climatic regions.

Ernesto Sandoval, the director of the Botanical Conservatory, gave us an in-depth tour of their collection. And what a collection it is! While our tour focused on succulents in all their diversity, the greenhouses are also home to many different tropical and subtropical plants. Some of them you will see below. This post has 60+ photos so please give it some time to load.

Our tour started in the outside succulent area where we ooh’ed and aah’ed over table upon table of goodies.

130202_UCDavis_01  130202_UCDavis_Dudleya-brittonii_01

Table after table of succulent goodies—the beauty on the right is a Dudleya brittonii


Assorted echeverias

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Two aloes that caught my eye.
The one on the left is Aloe erinacea, the one on the right didn’t have a label.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Visiting the Americas and Asia at UC Davis

Yesterday I showed you some the wonderful African plants found at UC Davis. Today we’ll continue our walking tour of the campus with a bunch of fascinating plants from the Americas and Asia.

The first set of photos were taken at the Cycad Garden front of Storer Hall. But before we get to the cycads, let’s look at some of the other plants here, like this fantastic Acacia hindsii.


Acacia hindsii

Monday, February 4, 2013

Visiting Africa at UC Davis

On Saturday I went on a field trip with the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society to tour the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory greenhouses. Ernesto Sandoval, the director of the Botanical Conservatory, gave us an in-depth tour of their collection. But before we get to that, I want to show you some of the magnificent plants we saw outside the greenhouses and in front of nearby buildings on campus. This post is about African plants. Tomorrow’s post will be about American and Asian plants.

I’ve lived in Davis for 16 years and I’ve been to the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses, best known for their corpse flower which has bloomed twice in recent years, but I’ve never walked around that part of campus in search of plants. I was floored to discover not only that there are public planting of succulents in front of quite a few buildings but that there even is a small cycad collection with species from Africa, South America and Asia.

Who knows what other treasures might be tucked away here and there! If anybody knows of other interesting plantings on campus, please leave a comment below.

Let’s start this post with the aloes planted outside the Botanical Conservatory greenhouses. These are fully hardy in our climate since the less hardy species died in the big freeze of 1998. They are also fairly tolerant of our native clay soil, which is cold and wet in the winter. For more information on aloe species that do well in the Sacramento Valley, download this PDF published by the Botanical Conservatory.


Aloes in front of Botanical Conservatory greenhouses


Aloe littoralis