Monday, January 1, 2018

My 1,000 mile Southern California succulent adventure

I just got back from a 5-day whirlwind road trip to Southern California. I had the pleasure of meeting up with three of my favorite garden bloggers (Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden, Denise of A Growing Obsession, and Kris of Late to the Garden Party) and was reminded again of how wonderful it is to hang out with like-minded plant nerds. I also visited some new-to-me public gardens (Sherman Library and Gardens, South Coast Botanic Garden, Getty Center, Deutsch Cactus Garden) and returned to some favorite haunts (Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Huntington). Finally, I stopped at a bunch of nurseries and loaded up the car with a treasure trove of plants. Now I need to find room for everything I bought!

I'll be going through my 1,300 photos in the weeks to come and will have detailed posts on all my destinations. Today I want to give you a sneak peek of what I saw.

My first stop was at Hoover Boo's Piece of Eden in Orange County. Having followed her blog for many years, I felt like I knew her garden very well, but I was still surprised by how large it is and how many separate areas there are. It truly is a paradise full of succulents, southern hemisphere shrubs, roses, citrus trees, bromeliads, and more!


Hoover Boo also took me to her friend Kay's garden a few blocks away. It seemed even larger and is just as full of wonderful plants. Kay graciously gave me a a box and a paper bag full of tillandsias as well the largest avocado I'd ever seen—picked right off her own tree. This is Southern California, after all!



The next morning, I went to Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar with Hoover Boo and her husband Beloved. I'd heard a lot of wonderful things about this premier nursery and was not disappointed even though it wasn't fully stocked yet (they were in the process of clearing out their Christmas stuff). The demonstration garden in front of the nursery was fabulous, as you can see in the collage below: 



Our next stop was Sherman Library and Gardens just a few minutes from Roger's where we met up with Denise (A Growing Obession). Among succulent fanatics, Sherman Gardens is well known for Matt Maggio's stunning succulent tapestries (for details read this article in Pacific Horticulture). My personal highlight were the dozens of paper parasols suspended from the ceiling in the tropical conservatory.



After saying goodbye to Hoover Boo, Beloved and Denise, I made a quick but successful stop at Village Nurseries in Huntington Beach (hello, Leucadendron 'Little Bit' and Cordyline 'Electric Flash') and then headed to the Palos Verdes Peninsula. My destination: the garden of Kris Peterson who blogs at Late to the Garden Party. I had long admired the stunning views from her front garden and the amazing diversity of plants she grows. I was the first visitor to see her new lathe house (top right)—her talented husband had just finished it that morning.



Thursday started with a stop at the Armstrong Garden Center in Santa Monica before I headed to the first of that day's two main destinations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles. This was my first visit, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. While the Central Garden was in winter mode, it was still a sight to see—as was the Cactus Garden on top of the South Promontory.



In the early afternoon, I braved an unexpected traffic snarl on my way to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia. I'd stopped there briefly last March on my way home from Palm Springs. This time I wasn't in a hurry and had the chance to explore other areas of the 125 acre site, including the amazing cycad garden. In the South African Garden, many aloes were in full bloom.



Day 4, Friday, was all about the Huntington in nearby San Marino. My previous visits had been limited to the world-famous Desert Garden. This time I also checked out the Chinese, Japanese, Australian and Subtropical Gardens. A lot of walking is required to explore the 120 acres of gardens! I was surprised by how hot and thirsty I was until I realized the temperature had climbed to 84°F (29°C) by mid-afternoon—unseasonably warm even for Southern California.

Here's a collage of the Chinese and Japanese Gardens:


The New World section of the Desert Garden:


And the Old World section:



Most of day 5 was taken up by the drive home (just shy of 400 miles from the Huntington). I quickly visited a Lowe's and Home Depot just to see what the big-box garden centers carry in that part of the state and picked up a beautiful Agave potatorum 'Cameron Blue'. To break up the 6-hour drive I also stopped at a place I hadn't even known existed until I did a Google search for "botanical gardens Fresno:" the Deutsch Cactus Garden in Fresno. This small 1-acre garden is the legacy of cactus collector Fred Deutsch who had collected many of the plants in the wild in the 1930s when such a thing was still legal. I had no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. This is a nice place to stretch your legs half way between metropolitan Los Angeles and Sacramento.



Here is my plant haul from the various nurseries I visited:


Nursery purchases:


And plants gifted to me by Hoover Boo and her friend Kay:

  • Aloe 'Blue Elf'
  • Erepsia pillansii
  • Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'
  • Tillandsia, assorted

Time to get out and get my hands dirty!

On that note, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you! May 2018 bring you everything you wish for.

28 comments:

  1. What a great taster and looking forward to reading more of your in depth features coming up soon. It would be a dream to go along one of your road trips one day!

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    1. It would be so much fun to go on a road trip together! Let's make it happen one of these years :-).

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  2. Happy New Year to you and your family honey! Hope to see you this year for sure! Love this post looks like you had a blast.

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  3. It was great to meet you in person, Gerhard! You made great use of the few days you spent in SoCal. Happy planting and happy new year! I look forward to seeing you again at the Austin Fling in May.

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    1. Kris, it was fantastic to meet you and see your wonderful garden. Hoov's garden may be a Piece of Eden, but yours is just as much of a paradise!

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  4. Happy New Year! That looks like an awesome trip, and so many new plants! I look forward to seeing your detailed posts!

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    1. Happy New Year to you as well! I'm very excited that I found so many cool plants. I think I went to more nurseries in 5 days than I do in a year here!!!

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  5. You always have the best trips. Thanks so much for sharing. Can't wait to see the rest.

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  6. Looks like a great time, and lots of things brought home. I’m curious about the cube planter/container. Is it core-ten rusty metal? Where did you pick it up from?

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    1. Brian, I got the Corten cube at Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar. All their Corten containers were 50% off. This one is 12x12x12 inches and it was $25. Unfortunately, it was the only one in that size, otherwise I would have bought at least one more. The others were larger and wouldn't have fit in my car.

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  7. What a treat to meet you after hearing about you for so long. Your enthusiasm and good cheer are infectious.........thanks for your good words on my garden, too ! Happy New year. Kay

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    1. Kay, I won't forget your garden anytime soon. It's such a beautiful and peaceful space. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to sit outside and enjoy the view.

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  8. What fun! Glad you got to see Kay’s garden too, it was wonderful to compare and contrast two fabulous gardens so close together, yet so different (her’s and Hoov’s I mean). And you got to meet Kris and see her garden, yay! I’m looking forward to photos, since I haven’t been there yet. What a fabulous time you must have had.

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    1. I'm so grateful that Hoov took me to Kay's house. Not only is her garden fantastic, Kay is also the nicest person. She sent me home with a whole bunch of tillandsias. I will wire them to the manzanita branches I've collected in Mt Shasta.

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  9. I am off to Socal myself in March-I have a business trip and will drive rather than fly , piggy backing a little garden action along the way.I hope I can squeeze in the Sherman, but I'm definitely meeting Denise at the Huntington, Lotusland will be my return pit stop. I can't wait to see all your posts from this trip !

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    1. I would have been crushed if I had seen all these wonderful plants and not been able to buy any. Flying sucks in that regard. Fortunately, driving is an option for us.

      Have a great time with Denise. She's a walking encyclopedia!

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  10. Looks like it was a successful trip. :^)

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  11. I am in awe of your travel/nursery shopping stamina!

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  12. Can’t get over your exhausting itinerary, and the photos are just incredible. You really need to write a book!

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    1. I must admit, whenever I get home from some a whirlwind trip, I feel like sleeping for a few days straight :-)

      As for the book, I'd love to. But for that to happen, we need to up the number of hours in a day to at least 36!

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  13. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the Deutsche Cactus Garden as well! The grounds to the right of it have a beautiful perennial/fruit & vegetable garden. There is an amazingly productive & large Avocado tree growing there that I must get the name of since Sac has a similar climate and I want to grow it!

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    1. I was so focused on the cactus garden, I didn't even notice the fruit & vegetable garden!

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  14. Gerhardt your energy is enviable and thanks to your gifts with words and the camera many more may benefit. Southern Cal definitely is a wonderful place for plants and gardens. You make me eager for another road trip soon even though long ones just kill my back these days.

    I just did a search to see if you had blogged about the Institute for Aloe Studies in Oakland, a venture of John B Miller and Brian Kemble but supported by many others. http://www.aloestudies.org/about.html Their mission includes the study and preservation of species of aloes, which includes making them available for sale to people to use in their home gardens. I'm impressed by the scope and nearness of this project and suspect it will become quite a resource for us. But it wasn't until Brian Kemble took the mike at the general meeting last night that I began to realize just how great it was to have this resource so close to home.

    I'm doing bringing a Cal Hort group to the John Miller's property which houses the larger part of their collection on May 20 after a coffee-in-the-garden event being hosted by member Casper Curto beginning at 9:30 a.m. Casper has a huge collections of bromeliads and orchids as well as succulents and many other fine plants. I took these photos at his garden just this past Saturday. https://www.flickr.com/gp/serialplantfetishist/525N77 Not the best pictures but it gives you some idea. It was Casper who introduced me to his near neighbor John Miller and the Institute of Aloe Studies. If it works into your schedule you'd be very welcome to join us.

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  15. Hello everyone,
    I´m form Mendoza, Argentina.
    I will be visiting the west coast with my family in a couple of weeks.
    I have a farm cacti and I in love with desert plants.
    I wanted to visit Mesagarden´s plece but they dont´t have a walk in place so I had to make my order by mail.
    Could anyone help me with so imformation about some Green house nurseries, farms and seed´s sellers wich I could visit?
    Also I would like to by about 10.000 seeds of aeonium hybrid type.
    If you like to give a look to our web page it´s www.cactusmendoza.com
    If you like to come to Mendoza some time I´ll be happy if your visit our farm
    Thanks for your time!
    Paula

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