2020 in review: April—June

« Back to January—March

Continuing the year in review...


In April we were sheltering in place. Many people were transitioning to working at home, but since I've been working at home for years, my work routine wasn't affected. In the midst of all the confusion, the garden became even more of a a sanctuary.

Vriesea fosteriana 'Red Chestnut'

Side yard

These nasturtiums are descendants of the original plants that were here when we bought the house 20+ years ago. They reseed freely, wherever they want, and I usually let them have their way.

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), 'Meerlo' lavender (Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo'), Agave gentryi 'Jaws' and Yucca linearifolia

Flowering claret cup cactus (Echinocereus sp.) in renovated bowl

Grevillea 'Kings Fire'

Agave ovatifolia and Alyogyne 'Ruth Bancroft'

Considered essential businesses under the governor's shelter-in-place order, nurseries were able to remain open as others had to shut their doors. I made a mental health outing to Annie's Annuals in Richmond in early April. Social distancing and handwashing stations aside, the nursery itself was little changed—a steady rock in a sea of turmoil.

Aloe cameronii in a bed of Echeveria elegans

Beschorneria yuccoides 'Flamingo Glow', Aloe marlothii, Todaroa montana, and many others

I bought quite a few things, some of which didn't make it (Bossiaea linophylla, Corydalis flexuosa, Helipterum roseum, Lupinus succulentus, Papaver atlanticum). 2020, what can I say?


In May, I visited the Berkeley Hills garden of landscape designer Mat McGrath of Farallon Gardens. Like me, Mat is an enthusiastic plant guy, and it required quite a bit of effort to maintain the proper social distance as we walked through his garden—one of many learning moments in an exceedingly odd spring.

Puya coerulea var. coerulea and Leucospermum 'Blanche Ito' in front of a large restio (Rhodocoma capensis)

View from the top of the driveway

Repurposed industrial object as garden art

A perfect place to escape what would be called “the new normal”

The Ruth Bancroft Garden was closed for a while and reopened in mid-May with new procedures and signage in place. As it always does, the garden worked its magic and I quickly forgot about COVID-19 for a couple of hours.

Proper social distancing = one Agave franzosinii apart

Agave ovatifolia, Banksia alliacea, and Leucophyta brownii

Agave ovatifolia and cane cholla (Cylindropuntia spinosior)

Aloes and pincushions (Leucospermum)

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) and Agave franzosinii

Mangave 'Lavender Lady' and Senecio mandraliscae

Since I was out and about already, I stopped at Urban Ore in Berkeley, a salvage and recycling yard (considered an essential business) and found a variety of plants growing in repurposed containers. I'm sure the plants were pass-alongs, and the pots, bowls, bathtubs, wheelbarrows and other “planters” came straight from the salvage yard. Except for potting soil, I bet not a dime was spent.

A pre-Memorial Day outing to Annie's Annuals brought another new experience: standing in line, six feet apart, outside the nursery, waiting to be waved in. To ensure proper social distancing, only a certain number of customers were allowed inside the nursery at any given time.

The location book (list of all plants available in the nursery and in which aisle they are) is now entirely online

Agave ovatifolia and blue pimpernell (Anagallis monellii)

Parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii) growing on roof of the small shed near the checkout area

Kool Aid bush (Psoralea pinnata)

May is always a great month in the garden. This year, accursed as it has been, proved to be no exception.

Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi (left), Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' (middle), Yucca queretaroensis (right)

Eriogonum nudum 'Ella Nelson's Yellow' in front of Agave 'Blue Glow' and Leucophyta brownii

Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) in front of Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridividatta'). At this point in time, I didn't know that I would remove the entire clump of bamboo in November.

Echinopsis 'Forty-Niner'

Acanthocalycium spiniflorum


In June, I didn't leave Davis at all. The reality of the pandemic had begun to sink it, leading to a lingering low-grade depression. Being in the garden helped prevent it from getting worse.

Early evening

Bed next to the front door, with Dioon edule, a cycad from Mexico, a fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis), and many others

Aloidendron 'Hercules' and chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)

Another symbol of 2020: Grevillea 'King's Fire', which had been doing so well, died from one day to the next. The flowering plant on the left is fire cracker plant (Russellia equisetiformis), and the a is Agave 'Crazy Horse', a hybrid between Agave cupreata and Agave asperrima.

×Mangave 'Mayan Queen' looking like it's emerging from a sea of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'

On to July—September: the longest summer.


© 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.


  1. Oh my goodness. I literally got goosebumps looking at all your photos. They are gorgeous. First of all-- your garden is amazing. And I probably would would be spending lots of time there. You have so many wonderful nurseries and gardens too. I've never seen such succulents.

  2. If our nurseries hadn't been allowed to remain open, well I can't imagine. It was the only thing that kept me (semi)sane.

    1. Don't even go there! My mom says nurseries in Germany had to close!

  3. I was struck by how many fabulous plant combinations there are in this post - Agave ovatifolia with Alyogyne, another whale's tongue with Anagallis, and Romneya coulteri with another agave to name just a few. I think some of my succulents need floral sidekicks!

    1. YESSSS. Succulents pair so well with perennials, flowering and non-flowering.

  4. So many striking photos, Just looking at the gardens you visited and photographed one could almost forget there was a pandemic on. Agave and alogyne at the Ruth Bancroft and Aloe and Echeveria at Annies in April are truly stunning. A fabulous year for garden photos.

    1. I actually did way more this year than I had thought. Writing these "year in review" posts helped me realize that.


Post a Comment