San Diego just won't stop succing

It's day 3 of our visit to San Diego. The succy trend that started on day 1 and continued on day 2 is showing no signs of letting up. Slowly but surely, it's wearing me down. It won't be long before I throw up my hands in defeat and become a convert. Maybe all this succyness isn't so bad after all!

The campus of San Diego State University is only a tenth of the size of UC San Diego, which we visited yesterday, but it has a much higher succulent ratio. The first sighting we made was in front of this newly refurbished residence hall:

Usually I'm not a fan of Agave americana, but mass-planted here in a straight line looks sharp, especially in combination with maiden grass (Miscanthus). I hope the landscapers will keep the profusion of agave pups under control. Otherwise this will be tangled mess before long.

Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' in front of a residence hall

Golden barrels (Echinocereus grusonii) lined up like soldiers at a parade

Agave attentuata against New Zealand flax

Aloe brevifolia

Aeonium 'Sunburst' and Kalanchoe fedschenkoi

Yellow kangaroo paws and yellow bicycles, with Agave attenuata hiding in the middle

Massive planter featuring Pachypodium lamerei

Furcraea foetida 'Variegata' and granite chair

Yellow bird of paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)—pretty amazing flowers

Yet another Furcraea foetida 'Variegata'

Succulent roundabout

San Diego State University has some nice examples of Mission Revival architecture

Brugmansia and flowering jacaranda

More Aloe brevifolia

It's getting repetitive, but here are more yellow kangaroo paws and Furcraea foetida 'Variegata'

Ponytails palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Hepner Hall, the most photographed building on the San Diego State University campus

1200-acre Balboa Park is another great place to experience succyness in San Diego—and palm tree madness, often in combination.

Bismarckia nobilis and Aloidendron 'Hercules'

Casa de Balboa

Casa de Balboa

Botanical Building

Cycads inside the Botanical Building

Leucadendron 'Jester' and Chamaerops humilis


Agave guiengola 'Creme Brulee' in a parking lot
California Tower from Alcazar Garden

Aloe rubroviolacea

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'

Aloe speciosa

Aloe sabaea

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

Aloes and agaves at Balboa Park Activity Center in desperate need of rain

Speaking of rain, or rather the severe lack thereof: It was shocking to see plants that usually handle extended dry spells with aplomb on the verge of death: aloes, agaves, and even opuntias. The 2017-2018 water year is shaping up to be one of the driest on record for San Diego: just 3.32" between October 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.


  1. Is your plan to pretend San Diego is filled with succy-ness so that your daughter, in a fit of rebellion, will choose to attend school in a place her dad dislikes? If so, your plan is working extremely well! Such great pictures of what SD's climate allows to grow!

  2. That clumping palm looks like Chamaerops humilis. The Aloe looks like rubroviolaceae.

  3. And that's a Bismarckia nobilis with that Aloe 'Hercules'

    1. Duh! I should have known that. I saw plenty of Bismarckias at the LA County Arboretum. Thanks for the ID.

  4. I get most excited by the big stuff -- the huge Pachypodiums, 'Hercules' with such massive trunks, the Dragon tree in healthy tree form (as opposed to barely surviving houseplant form). It seems strange that the really struggling beds don't get at least some supplemental water.

    1. Me too! I can grow many of these plants here, but never to that size.

      I was shocked a) to find out it had rained so little in SD, and b) to see succulents suffering like that. A very real reminder that we're in a permanent state of drought in California.

  5. I sure hope daughter #2 doesn't decide to go to school in San Diego. I couldn't take the barrage of unpleasant posts...

    1. I have a feeling there'll be many more ugly photos in the years to come...

  6. San Diego State's done a great job with their landscaping. There were a lot of nice combinations. I couldn't help noticing how the Anigozanthos in photo #9 echoed the yellow bikes parked behind them. Rental bikes on campus is another nice service for college students.

    1. The yellow kangaroo paws with the yellow bikes, that was a magazine-worthy combo!

  7. Arg Brahea armata is such a stunner! I'm surprised it isn't more popular in Nor Cal; it's much more attractive to me than the Washingtonia palms used everywhere.

    1. Sorry, Bismarckia nobilis as per David F. Those we can't grow in the the Sacramento Valley. But I agree, Brahea armata are MUCH more beautiful that the ubiquitous Washingtonias.

  8. Catching the moment of the young lovers looking at each other rather adoringly under the Bismarkia--well done!--almost took my attention away from the Bismarkia...not quite, but almost.

    Yeah, so dry, so dry, so dry...a miserable winter it was. :(


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