Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Yucca queretaroensis haircut

On Saturday, I finally got around to a project I'd been postponing for quite a while: trimming the Yucca queretaroensis in the smaller of the two succulent mounds in the front garden. Look how little it was when I got it from Greg Starr in December 2013!

Fast-forward almost seven years:

That cute little plant has grown into a strapping adolescent!

Unfortunately, it's leaves are rigid and end in sharp points—perfect for poking an eye out when working near them. To reduce the risk of injury at least somewhat, I cut off a good ⅓ of the bottom leaves. I was shocked by the difference this made:

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Jeremy Spath's Hidden Agave Ranch: the greenhouse

In my first post about Hidden Agave Ranch, I showed you the spectacular grounds and many of the agaves Jeremy has growing in the ground. This post focuses on the greenhouse, which is home both to Jeremy's personal collection and to the agaves he grows for sale.

Here's the entrance to the greenhouse. The hill on the left is dedicated to plants from Baja California.

And a wide-angle view of the inside:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Jeremy Spath's Hidden Agave Ranch: the grounds

On my recent trip to Southern California, I finally had the opportunity to visit a place at the very top of my plant-related bucket list: Hidden Agave Ranch in North San Diego County. This is where agave guru Jeremy Spath lives with his family, and it's where he performs his plant breeding magic. 

Jeremy may look like the quintessential surfer—and surfing is one of his passions—but his focus is on plants, above all agaves. He travels to study them in habitat, he cultivates and propagates them at home, and he creates completely novel hybrids, some of which are for sale on his website Hidden Agave. Soon he'll be able to add “author” to his résumé as he's working on a new agave book with Jeff Moore of Solana Succulents.

Horticulture wasn't Jeremy's original career, but after he'd been bitten by the plant bug, he jumped into it with both feet. His first stint was at San Diego Botanic Garden where he accumulated extensive plant knowledge. This was followed by time at Rancho Soledad Nurseries where he was able to do more field work and hybridizing. In 2018 he bought his current property and started Hidden Agave Ranch. Jeremy also owns his own landscape design company, Water's Path. You can find photos of his landscape installations on Water's Path's Instagram.

Hidden Agave Ranch is a 7½ acre hillside property north of Escondido. With nothing but open land on two sides, it seems even bigger. Jeremy is the definitely the king of the hill in his corner of San Diego County! 

Beyond sweeping views, the hilltop location has other benefits that are particular important for a plant person: Cold air flows down the hill, leaving Jeremy's property frost-free. If everything else hadn't already made me envious, this last bit would have done it!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Serious cactus collector = seriously large greenhouse

In my recent post about my friend Theresa's garden—remember her incredible Southwest-inspired home?—I mentioned that she and her son, a serious succulent collector in his own right, have several greenhouses. The smallest of them can be seen reflected in the pool:

Theresa's smallest greenhouse reflected in the pool

This is Theresa's greenhouse. It may be the smallest of the three, but it's chock full of wonderful plants, mostly cacti:

Friday, October 9, 2020

Quick trip to Annie's Annuals—20% off sale until October 11, 2020

I unexpectedly found myself with some free time on Thursday morning so I decided to make a quick trip to Annie's Annuals in Richmond, about an hour's drive provided traffic cooperates (it did). It was a surprisingly cool morning in Davis and even cooler in Richmond. In fact, the sky was so gray that I thought it was going to rain (it didn't). As an added plus, the even light did make for good photography.

Here are some pictures of the public plantings along the entrance and along the sidewalk:

This view, as seen from Market Street, changes frequently

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Southwest garden experience in Sacramento, California

With very few occasions to visit other gardens this year, I jump at every opportunity I get. And I really struck gold a couple of weeks ago when I finally got to see the property of a friend in the greater Sacramento area. I was there in the early evening so the photos in this post have a warm cast.

I knew her place was large—about two acres, which is somewhere between gigantic and enormous by local standards—so I expected to be wowed. But I was not prepared for this level of wow:

Had I fallen asleep behind the wheel and woken up a few days later in New Mexico?

No, I was still in Sacramento County. This was “just” one of those exceptional places that are tucked away in quiet neighborhoods far from my regular routes.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Cactus magic: Echinocactus polycephalus

We all need a bit of magic in our lives right now. Here's my contribution for today.

Take a cactus with seemingly gray spines:

Spray it with water:


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Out with Agave ‘Mad Cow’, in with Agave gypsicola

Agave 'Mad Cow', a hybrid between Agave bovicornuta and Agave colorata, began to flower in the driveway bed earlier this year:

Agave 'Mad Cow' on May 31, 2020

I waited for seeds, but there were none (being a hybrid, it may be sterile). Hoping for some offsets, I left the dying rosette in place until last weekend when I decided it was time to remove the carcass. Would there be some pups underneath the mess of desiccated leaves?