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Showing posts from August, 2018

Around the world on 6,000 sq.ft.: Brian's miniature botanical garden

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A few months ago, I showed you my friend Brian's completely transformed front yard  in Concord, California , about an hour from where I live. Brian is a fellow plantaholic who has assembled an impressive collection of dryland plants from all over the world—his own miniature botanical garden, you might say. This is no coincidence, considering that Brian volunteers at the nearby  Ruth Bancroft Garden  (RBG) once or twice a week. The constant exposure to one of the best succulent gardens in the country—and the master plantsmen who continue Ruth's legacy, including curator Brian Kemble, assistant curator Walker Young and horticulturist Ryan Penn—has had a profound effect on Brian's own path as a gardener. As an extra benefit, he has been able to bring home discarded plants from the RBG that would otherwise have ended up on their compost pile. Add to that an outsized green thumb, and it's no surprise that Brian's garden is flourishing. Driveway bed Last weekend, B

Weekend Wrapup (WeWu) for 8/26/18: a pineappled agave and a real pineapple

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Another week has gone by in a hurry so time for another Weekend Wrapup (WeWu). Remember this is a completely random collection of vignettes—things that caught my eye or that I worked on during the week (and weekend). Everytime to go to  Woodland , I drive by a clump of Agave americana in front of one of the ranchettes along the rural road I take. I posted about it before , in February 2011. The clump is much smaller now but it's still there. Right now, this rather strange looking specimen is flowering: Not only has this Agave americana been pineappled to within an inch of its life, they also chopped off the flower stalk as it was emerging. Not that it stopped it, but it's much shorter than it would otherwise be.

Empty pots make me anxious

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If you're anything like me, you have lots of these: Mind you, what you see above is just a small quantity of the empty nursery cans in the backyard. I do reuse the square pots and the green pots regularly but the 1-gallon pots really can go. I have every intention of taking them to a local nursery that accepts used nursery containers, but I haven't quite yet made it to the "get of your ass and do it" stage. But what I want to talk about in this post are the kinds of pots you see in the next set photos: the "good" pots. They may be dusty and a bit dirty but they're perfectly serviceable and look decent when cleaned up.

Octopus agave bulbils: is there such a thing as "too many?"

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Five years ago friends of ours adopted an octopus agave ( Agave vilmoriniana ) I'd removed from the driveway bed. They planted it in the meadow garden in their front yard where it was much happier than it had been at our house. This spring it started to send up a flower stalk, signaling the beginning of the end. Here's a sequence of photos from our friend Paul showing the progress of the inflorescence:

Weekend Wrapup (WeWu) for 8/18/18: prickly superstars and more

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So many of the photos I take are snapshots of things that catch my eye, projects I'm working on, plants I just bought, etc. Often there isn't enough of a story for an entire post so they never get seen. That's why I'm starting a new feature: the Weekend Wrapup (WeWu). Every Saturday or Sunday I'll throw together a post of these snaps in hopes you'll find them interesting. Here are the succulent mounds in the front yard as seen from the front porch. I really enjoy this view, and I constantly look for ways to cram more plants in. Fortunately, many of these plants are sloooow growers so they should continue to coexist peacefully for years to come.

Mangave musical chairs

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If there's one constant in my garden, it's that nothing stays the same forever—or even for very long. There's the natural circle of life: Plants, even the toughest and most reliable ones, die at some point and need to be replaced. And then there's the Gerhard circle of life that revolves almost entirely around my ever-changing plant crushes and preferences. Variety is the spice of life, isn't that way they say? Here's my latest tweak: The Agave ocahui in the photo above never quite lived up to my expectations. It looked a bit wonky and in general didn't impress. Time for it to go.

Mealybugs win, agave loses

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Two years ago, I posted this photo of my Agave parryi var. truncata : It showed the beginnings of what would turn into a particularly insidious infestation of mealybugs, the bane of my existence as a gardener. It also marked the start of a multi-year war against these little  đź’©đź’©đź’© . Fast forward to August 2018:

Solana Succulents: my favorite kind of nursery

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There's no doubt about it: Large nurseries that grow their own material, like Rancho Soledad Nursery  in northern San Diego County, are exciting to visit. But what makes my plant-loving heart beat even faster are small independent nurseries—often mom-and-pop (or mom or pop) businesses operating out their own backyard or a tiny space in a not-so-flashy part of town and carrying an eclectic inventory of plants that combines the fairly common with the fairly rare. Solana Succulents  in the northern San Diego County town of Solana Beach  is one of these special nurseries, with one exception: Its location right on Highway 101 just a few blocks from the beach, is definitely not out of the way. In fact, the sign is easy to spot:

Important information for Succulents and More email subscribers

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If you've subscribed to receive email notifications when new posts are added to Succulents and More but haven't been receiving them lately, I apologize. Because of the General Data Protection Regulation that recently went into effect in the European Union, all subscribers need to re-confirm their subscription before email notifications can be resumed. Fortunately, this is very easy to do:

Sip and shop at the Succulent Café

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At the end of March, I spent a whirlwind 48 hours in San Diego County  to attend the 2018 Super Succulent Celebration  at Waterwise Botanicals . Since I'm never one to take it slow when I'm on a trip, I also squeezed in a visit to a drive-through nursery  and to  Rancho Soledad Nursery , a world-class destination of its own. On my way back to the airport I stopped by the Succulent CafĂ© in the seaside community of Carlsbad . For years I'd been hearing what a special place the original Succulent CafĂ© in Oceanside was. Unfortunately, it's now closed. But the good news is that the new Succulent CafĂ© in Carlsbad Village, just a few block from the beach, is much larger than the old space had been. As its name suggests, the Succulent CafĂ© serves a full range of hot and cold coffee and tea drinks, baked goods, as well as breakfast dishes, sandwiches and salads. All of this is par for the course for a cafĂ©. What makes this spot so unique, though, is that you sip your laven

More succulent Shangri-La: Rancho Soledad Nursery (part 2)

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This is part 2 of my trip report about  Rancho Soledad Nursery in San Diego County. If you missed part 1, click here . Rancho Soledad may be open to the public, but it's very much a working nursery. There were signs of it everywhere even though we didn't see many employees. Plants, usually larger specimens, were in the process of being hauled from one point to another, like Aloidendron ramosissimum  in this photo: Aloidendron ramosissimum

Succulent Shangri-La: Rancho Soledad Nursery (part 1)

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When I was in San Diego in March , I finally got the chance to visit a place I had always pictured as the nursery equivalent of Shangri-La : Rancho Soledad Nursery . Founded by legendary plantsman Jerry Hunter in 1954, Rancho Soledad has been a pioneering force in the California nursery industry for decades. Rancho Soledad was one of the first nurseries in the world to establish its own in-house tissue culture lab to produce landscape-worthy plants on a large scale. Popular agave hybrids like 'Blue Glow' and 'Blue Flame' are just two of the many introductions to come out of Rancho Soledad. Much of Rancho Soledad's groundbreaking work in the last 20 years was done by Kelly Griffin , who is now succulent plant development manager at Altman Plants , the largest grower of succulents in the U.S. Even though Griffin is no longer with Rancho Soledad, their hybridizing program is continuing strong, thanks in no small measure to curator  Jeremy Spath . With his far-rangin