New plants for our garden—always room for more!

Fall is the ideal planting time in our neck of the woods, they say ("they" including nurseries eager to, well, sell plants). While an argument could be made that for some types of plants, including succulents, spring is actually better, I'm not in an arguing mood today. Instead I want to show you all the wonderful things you can find at this time of year when botanical gardens, native plant societies and other organizations debut their new offerings. More temptation comes courtesy of commercial nurseries who routinely offer nice discounts, either on select groups of plants or even on their entire stock.

This is not the time to be disciplined so don't even bother. After all, who refuses a piece of cake on their own birthday! Buy what catches you eye and don't be afraid to take a chance on something that may not be perfectly ideal for your climate—nice surprises happen more often than you think!

But there's another source for new plants: friends and fellow plant geeks! Of course their generosity isn't limited to autumn, but there seems to be a shared desire to rehome plants before winter comes.

In this post I want to show you some of my recent plant hauls. Lest you ask, no, I don't know where all of them will go, but I home some ideas. Read on to find out.

Aloes from John and Justin, including rarities like Aloe ikiorum, Aloe lukeana, and Aloe vanbalenii × mawii as well as Aloe africana from Annie's Annuals and Aloe claviflora from Trader Joe's. There's also a ×Mangave 'Bloodspot' pup from Justin (and a nice-sized Agave applanata not shown in the photo).

On Saturday, I visited two friends in the Bay Area, John in Richmond and Justin in Pinole. Like me, they love aloes, in addition to being the nicest people. Above are the goodies they sent home with me, ranging from seedling they grew themselves to unexpected finds at places like Trader Joe's and Annie's Annuals. The seedlings are still small and will live in pots for at least another year, but the Aloe africana is ready to go in the ground now.

Plants from John and Justin:

×Mangave ‘Bloodspot’
Agave applanata
Aloe africana
Aloe claviflora
Aloe ikiorum (open pollinated)
Aloe lukeana (open pollinated)
Aloe vanbalenii × mawii
Stapelia paniculata ssp. scitula

Speaking of aloes, here are a couple I recently got at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory sale, steals at $4 per pot:

LEFT: Aloe littoralis × Kumara plicatilis   RIGHT: Aloe comosa

Plant purchases from UC Davis Botanical Conservatory:

Aeschynanthus speciosus
Aloe comosa
Aloe littoralis × Kumara plicatilis
Begonia masoniana
Capparis spinosa f. inermis
Echeveria agavoides (crested form)

Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Richmond is having a 20% off sale, continuing until Sunday, October 13. I stopped there on Saturday before visiting John who lives not 10 minutes from Annie's. Here's my haul:

The plants in this tray want sun so most of them will go in the front yard

These are more shade-tolerant (except for the giant fennel in the top right, which ended up in this tray by mistake)

Some of these plants are bulletproof in our garden, others are more experimental (especially Roldana pestatis, Plectranthus ecklonii and Anthriscus sylvestris).

Plant purchases from Annie's Annuals and Perennials:

Achillea millefolium ‘Sonoma Coast’
‘Sonoma Coast’ white yarrow
Anigozanthos ‘Harmony’
‘Harmony’ kangaroo paws
Anthriscus sylvestris
Raven’s wings
Arctostaphylos ‘Ron Clendenen’
‘Ron Clendenen’ manzanita
Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Grey’
Prostrate California sagebrush
Chrysocephalum apiculatum
Silver sunburst
Dasylirion berlandieri

Eriocephalus africanus
Cape snow bush
Eriogonum latifolium
Seaside buckwheat
Felicia aethiopica ‘Tight & Tidy’

Ferula communis
Giant fennel
Helichrysum argyrophyllum
Golden Guinea everlasting
Hesperoyucca peninsularis

Orostachys iwarenge
Chinese dunce cap
Oscularia caulescens

Plectranthus ecklonii

Polystychum munitum
Western sword fern
Roldana petasitis
Velvet groundsel
Salvia hierosolymitana
Jerusalem sage
Viola odorata ‘Comte de Brazza’
‘Comte de Brazza’ violet
Viola odorata ‘Duchesse de Parme’
‘Duchesse de Parme’ violet

Between visiting John and Justin, I swung by the big native plant sale at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park high above Berkeley. A few of the plants I was interested in were already gone, but I still found some goodies:

Three new small manzanitas, another prostrate blue juniper, a dudleya I'd never even heard of, a new mahonia hybrid, and an exceedingly rare F2 seedling of the already rare flannelbush × monkey-hand tree hybrid

Plant purchases from Regional Parks Botanic Garden:

×Chiranthofremontia lenzii ‘F2 Brown Fuzz Selection’ (the above-mentioned flannelbush × monkey-hand tree hybrid)
Arctostaphylos glutinosa
Arctostaphylos hybrid
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi f. suborbiculata
Dudleya anthonyi
Juniperus communis var. saxatilis ‘Pt. St. George’
Mahonia ‘Bart's intersectional hybrid’

For some reason, I didn't take any photos of my purchases from the first UC Davis Arboretum plant sale in late September but here's my favorite from that sale:

Desert mahonia (Mahonia fremontii) with icy blue older leaves and bronze-colored new growth

Plant purchases from UC Davis Arboretum sale on September 28, 2019:

× Mangave 'Red Wing'
Agave 'Blue Ember'
Berberis fremontii
Helianthemum 'Henfield Brilliant'
Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius
Puya coerulea var. violacea
Tetraneuris acaulis

Santa Cruz Island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius), in my opinion one of the most beautiful trees native to California, will replace the Bradford pear the City of Davis has finally agreed to remove (although no concrete date given yet). Almost 6 ft. tall (shown next to our minivan for scale), this rare tree was a whopping $26 at the UC Davis Arboretum plant sale—vivid proof that botanical gardens, native plant societies, etc. are often the best and most affordable source for high-quality plant material.

I promised to show you a few spots where some of my new plant babies will go. Between me pruning back some established shrubs, Agave mitis flowering, and our big 'Sonoran Emerald' palo verde uprooting itself, we've had some vacancies open up this year.

Still room behind our big-boy Aloe ferox!

This is where the 'Sonoran Emerald' palo verde used to be

I've done a lot of planting already, but there's still room

Still room towards the back

Similar spots exist elsewhere in the front yard and all over the backyard. I'll have updates as soon as I get more things planted.

P.S. The plant lists above are mostly for my own benefit since I'm bound to forget what I bought where and when (I don't even bother with “why”).

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  1. Wow! When you shop you don't fool around! By comparison, I'm a piker but I still manage to buy plants I have no spots for on a regular basis. I guess I'm lucky that Annie's isn't close to me - as it is I just submitted an order for 12 more plants. I DO have spaces identified for those, though. Well, all but one anyway.

    1. Not all plants from Annie's are happy here. Richmond may only be an hour away, but in terms of climate, it might as well be on another planet.

  2. I think I followed the "always room for more plants" maxim so thoroughly that I've run out of room! Anything new generally lives in a pot now, and I'm about maxed out there too...But you have an excellent case for more plants, esp. with the departure of the palo verde. Have a great time planting!

    1. Time to look at your plants and decide whether you still love them all or whether you'd be willing to let some go.

  3. I got tired looking at all your new purchases, let alone the energy required to shop for them and plant them.

    Great haul! Congrats on getting rid of your Bradford Pear. Lyonothamnus much more special.

    1. I got tired writing this post :-).

      The Bradford pear is still here. We're waiting for the City to remove it. No concrete date yet. But I have the Lyonothamnus on hand now!!

  4. "still room" ...until the stuff grows , right ? I've started the process of digging up my front garden (the 2020 project) and I'm looking forward to a new look there-but still undecided on what that look will be. I did not make one single plant sale this fall-so many scheduling conflicts and some medical crap were the culprits. Really sucks ! I hope to make up for it in spring. You got some excellent stuff !

    1. When stuff gets too big, stuff gets taken out. I've learned from the best (danger garden).

  5. I admire your attitude re: restraint. Sometimes the offerings are so good you just need to go for it. You might be approaching the time to start approaching your neighbour for extra space. A word of caution for Anthriscus sylvestris: once you have it you will never be rid of it. Seeds everywhere.

    1. Thank you very much for your feedback re: anthriscus. I'll plant it in my MIL's garden instead, he he.

  6. Wow! Shoot, with that haul, a fella with an empty yard could make hisself a pretty good start on a garden...

    Garden designer Dan Pearson takes an annual holiday in Corfu (as one does), and in recent years has added the giant fennel (Ferula communis) that grows wild there to his hillside garden. Photos from this past summer may be helpful as you plan where to place yours - @coyotewillow on Instagram.

    1. Hey, if I lived closer to Greece, I'd spend my holidays there, too.

      I remember seeing very tall fennels from a trip to Santorini. It's very possible it was Ferula communis. In that case, I'm even more excited.

  7. I'm a little envious of the desert mahonia.

    1. I think out of all the plants I bought recently, this is my favorite find. I got another one yesterday at the 2nd UC Davis Arboretum plant sale.

      Why is Mahonia fremontii so hard to find??? It sounds like a GREAT plant for our climate!


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