Aloes flowering at the Ruth Bancroft Garden right now
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend an aloe tour at the Ruth Bancroft Garden led by curator Brian Kemble. In his long career as a plantsman and on many trips to succulent hot spots like Mexico, South Africa, and Madagascar, Brian has amassed an encyclopedic knowledge he's always willing to share. To a plant nerd like me, Brian is a superstar, and I embrace every opportunity I get to learn from him.
This year, Brian will celebrate his 40th anniversary working at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I believe he was the first “real” employee Ruth Bancroft hired for her garden. Working side by side with Ruth, both literally and figuratively, Brian played an instrumental role in shaping the garden. In fact, I think it's fair to say that without Brian, his expertise, and his commitment, the RBG would not be what it is today.
Brian, a world-renowned aloe expert and hybridizer, knows every aloe in the garden—where it comes from, what growing conditions it prefers, and what its idiosyncrasies are. Since the tour on Saturday lasted only an hour, there was only so much territory Brian was able to cover. Obviously, the focus was on the species that are currently in flower, but there are so many other aloes in the garden. Maybe some day the RBG will have an in-depth aloe tour; I'm ready to invest a morning or an afternoon!
|Brian Kemble talking about Aloe rubroviolacea in the foreground|
See what's blooming in the Ruth Bancroft Garden right now.
|Aloe arborescens (and Agave franzosinii)|
|Aloe arborescens and a fluffy NOID cactus|
|The purple-tinged plants in the foreground are Aloe rubroviolaceae|
|Aloe ferox with orange flowers|
|Aloe marlothii (in flower), with Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells' (a Brian Kemble hybrid of Aloe pearsonii × Aloe distans on the right)|
|Aloe marlothii (in flower) and Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells'|
|Brian Kemble with Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells', his hybrid of Aloe pearsonii × Aloe distans. The taller aloe is Aloidendron dichotomum.|
|Three different forms of Aloe ferox|
|Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii|
|Aloe branddraaiensis flowers in front of Agave ovatifolia|
|The yellow flowers in front of this Agave ovatifolia are from Aloe mudenensis|
|Aloe karasbergensis (according to Brian Kemble, this species flowers whenever it feels like it)|
|Aloiampelos tenuior var. rubriflora|
|Aloe 'Creamsicle' in front of Aloidendron 'Hercules'|
|The building you see in the upper left is the new Visitor and Education Center|
|Candelabrum form of Aloe ferox|
|White-flowered form of Aloe ferox|
|White-flowered form of Aloe ferox|
|According to Brian, the only way you get white-flowered seedlings is to cross-pollinate two white-flowered Aloe ferox|
|Aloe flexilifolia × rubroviolaceae (Brian Kemble hybrid)|
At the end of the tour, each participant received a small Aloe petrophila grown by Brian from seed collected from the plant in the photo above. Plants make the best kind of souvenir, especially when they're so closely tied to a place you love!
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