Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Solana Succulents is my kind of nursery

My previous post was about Roger's Garden, an upscale destination nursery in Corona del Mar, a wealthy coastal community south of Los Angeles. Roger's Gardens has been around for decades. It has a large loyal clientele, and I bet many of their customers are into decor as much as plants (or even more so). I enjoy visiting Roger's Gardens once or twice a year, however often I happen to be in the area, but it's not really my kind of nursery.

You know what is? Solana Succulents, a small nursery in the coastal town of Solana Beach in northern San Diego county. I've blogged about Solana Succulents before, but their eclectic inventory changes constantly so there's always something new to explore. There are many nooks and crannies in the nursery, as you'll see below. Poking around is not only fun but also completely unpredictable, seeing how you never know what you might find.

A large Aloidendron barberae and several massive cactoid euphorbias, including Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata', grow right in the middle of the nursery. Their silhouettes against the sky make for a dramatic photo: 


The largest of the euphorbias is a Euphorbia abyssinica (or hybrid):


Its base is surrounded by an ever-changing assortment of plants:

 
I was tempted to buy more cactus, but I have enough already

Caudiciforms, too, including Dioscorea elephantipes and Fouquieria splendens

Deuterocohnia brevifolia, always cool

This area at the entrance to the “backyard” part of the nursery is a combination of display area and sale plants

This was one my favorite vignettes on this visit

And this...

...and this (Hechtia argentea)

Tillandsias nestled into the crotch of the large Euphorbia abyssinica

Another Deuterocohnia brevifolia, even larger than the other one

If softer succulents are more your thing, this is a great one: Portulaca molokiniensis or ╩╗ihi. This is the best known of the handful of succulent species native to the Hawaiian islands. Not frost-hardy, as I know from personal experience.

I have no idea what the plant is, but this pot is seriously weird—in a good way (I think) 

With their chalky leaves, dudleyas are easy to spot

Owner Jeff Moore had just picked up a batch of Dudleya brittonii. I couldn't resist.

This is the Dudleya brittonii I picked

Very few succulent nurseries carry hechtia. Solana Succulents does!

I know hechtias aren't everybody's thing, but you've got to admit that this is a beauty!

As is this one!

Agave macroacantha 'Blue Ribbon'

Assorted agaves

Ghostly Agave titanota among aloes and other agaves

Aloe vaombe, its tag cleverly tucked into a hole in a leaf


Solana Succulents is owned by Jeff Moore. Jeff has been a succulent enthusiast since his college days, and he's operated his specialty nursery out of the same space in Solana Beach since 1992. 28 years in business is a feat for any small nursery—28 years in the same location is even more amazing.

Jeff Moore

In 2014, Jeff self-published Under the Spell of Succulents, an introduction to the huge diversity of succulents found in cultivation. Based on Jeff's nursery experience and his many years of collecting, as well as his friendships with other collectors, the book features 800 photographs, most of them by Jeff himself. At the time of its publication, it was the most beautiful book on succulents I'd ever seen.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Jeff self-published Aloes & Agaves in Cultivation in 2016, Soft Succulents in 2017, and Spiny Succulents in 2018. Jeff had total control not only over the content but also over the production, and it shows. These are heavy books, printed on state-of-the-art equipment, and the photos are as good as it gets. In my opinion, all four of them are the visually most spectacular succulent books ever published. You can buy them directly from Jeff through his website.


Jeff is currently working on his fifth book. It will be about agaves in all their glory. The book's co-author, Jeremy Spath, knows agaves like few others and is a leading agave hybridizer with this own tissue culture lab (his ecommerce site is Hidden Agave). I've read an early draft, and I can promise you that even people on the fence about agaves will become converts when they see the stunning photos in this book, including some of mine. Agaves: Species, Cultivars, and Hybrids will be available sometime in the spring of 2021.

Solana Succulents is at 355 N. Hwy 101 in Solana Beach. It's open Wednesday-Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and on Sunday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.



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9 comments:

  1. I've never seen Hechtia for sale anywhere here so I guess it's time for me to make another trip to Solana Beach. I have three of Jeff Moore's books and look forward to the next one. In the meantime I suppose I should get my hands on the 4th one to round out my shelf ;)

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    1. I can't wait for COVID to be over (or at least under control) so we can meet up again without masks and social distancing....

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  2. I was in the area on the wrong day when I visited San Diego a couple years ago-it was a closed day for this nursery. I would love to go back again but I was horrified by the traffic-mind you I grew up in LA and lived in SD for almost 10 years from the mid 70's to the mid 80's. Sure glad I left -but what a great climate along the coast.

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    1. Speaking of traffic: I expected the worst, but traffic was much better that pre-COVID. Maybe we were just lucky...

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  3. There's nothing like poking around unusual nurseries to see what's there. I have all of Jeff's books and love them. Surprised about the challenge of finding hectia's in your area. I have a beautiful potted H. argentea that I found at a farmer's market a few year's back. It is definitely not hardy here.

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    1. Hechtia texensis, if you can find it, is probably the hardiest of the bunch, seeing how it grows in west Texas.

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  4. I share your enthusiasm for the icy blue Tillandsia (?) nestled in the rock. Looking at the vignette in photo #23, I'm struck by the speckled plant on the bottom right corner; do you know what it is?
    With such glowing reviews I plan to check out Jeff Moore's books.

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