Wednesday, July 29, 2020

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, summer 2020: Americas

The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley was closed longer than many other public gardens in California because it's on the campus of UC Berkeley and therefore subject to its regulations. Even now you need to make a reservation in order to visit, although even same-day reservations are generally available.

Feeling a bit restless, I made a reservation for last Saturday, and as luck would have it, my Bay Area friends Justin and Max were able to join me. It was great meeting up with them since they share my enthusiasm for plants. Even though we were wearing masks (required at the UCBG) and kept our distance from each other, it almost felt like a return to normal—the old normal, the one that's beginning to fade into oblivion...

Selfie with Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)

Justin, Max and I, aka the Three Plant Amigos, spent most of our time in the Mexico & Central America Collection (see garden map), skirting Australasia and South America where I took the Gunnera selfie above. 

As the UCBG website states, the Mexico & Central America Collection “is representative of plants from the Sierra Madre mountain ranges of Mexico south to the higher elevations of Central America. Two major plant communities are represented: pine-oak woodland and cloud forest.”

It may come as a surprise that Mexican succulents, including the likes of agaves and beschornerias, often favor somewhat sheltered positions near or under trees or shrubs rather than growing out in the open. Relatively few agaves are true desert dwellers adapted to life in the hot blazing sun; these tend to have pale blue or silver leaves. Species with greener leaves are typically denizens of higher-elevation pine-oak communities.

Agave “sp.” (always my favorite label) and Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata ssp. aztecorum)

I love everything about this vignette

I did a double-take when I saw this, thinking it was a new-to-me agave species. Not so. It's a Furcraea guatemalensisFurcraea being a related genus.

Agave marmorata, small and cute now but able to grow to giant proportions (in excess of 6 ft. in height and width)

Another Agave marmorata

Agave wocomahi

Agave wocomahi may not be a household name, but it deserves to be more widely grown since it's very cold hardy

Labeled “Nolina sp.”

Dasylirion acrotrichum in the front, unknown Nolina behind it

Agave gentryi growing in quite a bit of shade

Beautiful Agave “sp.”

This Manfreda sp. is an example of a plant so ugly only a real aficionado can love it

Cycads are another major plant group from Mexico I'm fond of. This is a rare Dioon sonorense.

Yucca rostrata towering over everything else

Agave “sp.” growing in fairly dense shade

Beschorneria albiflora

My latest plant crush: Brahea decumbens. I've long been enamored with the Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata), but it's a big plant that takes up a substantial amount of room. Brahea decumbens, on the other hand, is much smaller, only to 6 ft. in many years. Needless to say that, like so many other plants I become focused on, Brahea decumbens is rare and virtually impossible to find.

Brahea decumbens

Dioon edule, much easier to find and faster as well—but alas, not a blue palm!

Echeveria gigantea growing in conditions that I assume are similar to its natural habitat

If I hadn't seen the label, I wouldn't have believed that this is an oxalis: Oxalis magnifica

I don't associate tree ferns with Mexico/Central America, but here's one: Cyathea fulva, hailing from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas

Cyathea fulva frond getting ready to unfurl

Another relatively rare Mexican cycad, Dioon tomaselli

A few photos from the South America collection:

Gunnera tinctoria

And yours truly for scale (photo by Justin Cannon)

Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii growing in a crack in this rock

Next up, Baja California:

Agave datylio

Agave shawii ssp. goldmanniana

Agave shawii ssp. goldmanniana with Dudleya brittonii. Check out the incredibly long flower stalks!

I went a bit overboard taking photos of Dudleya brittonii...

...but it's such a beauty (here with Hechtia montana)

More Dudleya brittonii




OK, last Dudleya brittonii photo

A close relative, Dudleya anthonyii

A shrub for a change: Tecoma stans

Hechtia texensis at the entrance plaza:




The world-famous clump of hedgehog agave (Agave stricta) next to the tour deck:


One of the UCBG's signature plants, Agave mitis var. albidior 'UCBG':


And, to wrap things up, a personal favorite, Puya coerulea


A nice place to nap as long as you stay on the bench!


In part 2, I'll show you photos from other collections at the UC Botanical Garden, including Australasia.


© Gerhard Bock, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through www.succulentsandmore.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than www.succulentsandmore.com, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Video: Agaves In Our Garden

I haven't done a lot of videos for this blog because doing it right is a fairly substantial time commitment. However, I agreed to do a video tour of the agaves in our garden for the July Zoom meeting of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society. 

The video was supposed to be no longer than 5 minutes, but even though I was rushing—and left out all the mangaves—it still clocks it at 8+ minutes.

I've decided to share this video here because it might be of interest to many of you. It's a bit rushed and anything but professional, but it shows most of the agaves in the ground in our garden. 

Be sure to click “Watch on YouTube” and select the highest resolution.


Enjoy!


© Gerhard Bock, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through www.succulentsandmore.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than www.succulentsandmore.com, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Online webinars: the new normal for plant society meetings and workshops

Since the spring, just about every aspect of life has transitioned to a “new normal.” That includes monthly meetings of plant societies as well as workshops and other events at public and botanical gardens: Instead of being held in person, many of them have moved online. 

In addition to the convenience factor, there's another benefit: As online events, they're accessible to a much wider audience. People who would not have been able to attend in person can easily watch from the comfort of their home. In addition, it's possible to participate in presentations offered by organizations far away; typically you don't even have to be a member! This has opened up a whole new world of plant- and garden-oriented infotainment that I, for my part, have been enjoying tremendously.

It would be impossible to compile anything resembling a complete list of everything being offered online so I suggest you do a Google search for events that interest you. Here are some webinars on my radar for the July and August:

Ruth Bancroft Garden's agave presentation by Brian Kemble last Saturday; part 2 will be held on August 15 (see below).

Friday, July 17, 2020

2020 mid-year review: what a surreal year!

2020 is only half over, but it's safe to say it'll end up being the strangest year of my life. I bet I'm not the only one who feels like I've fallen through a crack in space-time into a parallel universe. Or maybe it's all a mass hallucination? Or The Truman Show 2.0? 

Whatever it is, I don't like it, and I want my money back!

But no matter how many hissy fits I throw, the new normal is here to stay. And that means more “social distancing” when out and about.

Ruth Bancroft Garden

Not that I have a problem with that per se. I prefer to visit lonely places anyway:

Highway 247, San Bernardino County, California