Ornamental kale, aloes, and agaves at SoCal's Roger's Gardens

At the end of December I made a quick trip to Southern California. Daughter #2 went back to university, and I came along to keep her company on the 7-hour drive. Since her apartment is only 10 minutes from Roger's Gardens, Orange County's premier destination nursery, I always swing by. 

I was greeted by a sea of white ornamental kale:

I'm not huge a fan of ornamental kale—for some reason, it makes me thing of warts and similar skin growths—but as a mass planting, it's actually quite beautiful.

Seeing all this kale made me wonder whether you could simple eat it after you're done with it in the garden. According to a variety of source, ornamental kale is perfectly safe to eat, but you may not want to: It's reported to be tough and bitter. So much for that.

Roger's Gardens is known for their exuberant street-side plantings. At this time of year, the aloes steal the show, above all Aloe 'Always Red', a Leo Thamm hybrid:

Aloe 'Always Red'

Look at this jaw-dropping combo of Aloe 'Always Red' and Agave ovatifolia:

Few agaves are as photogenic as Agave ovatifolia, and few aloes are as bloomerific as 'Always Red':

Along San Miguel Drive, I spotted some Aloe ferox in bloom:

And near the intersection of San Joaquin Hills Road and San Miguel Drive, a pineappled Agave salmiana starting to flower....

Agave salmiana

...as well as a particularly striking pairing of Agave 'Blue Flame' and Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold':

Agave 'Blue Flame' and Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold'

Agave 'Blue Flame' and Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold'

With afternoon temperatures above 70°F (22°C), I almost forgot that it was late December. Being able to run around in a short-sleeved T-shirt was wonderful! But the deciduous trees in the area were a vivid reminder that it is winter, T-shirt weather notwithstanding:

NOTE: This article contains a list of plants that are part of the permanent street-side landscaping at Roger's Gardens.

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  1. ‘Always Red’ is really something. It’s amazing.

  2. Wish I could have tagged along! Buy anything?

    1. I had a few things I wanted, but the checkout line was so long and slow, that I gave up (it was right near closing time). One was a Tasmanian mountain pepper (Tasmannia or Drimys lanceolata). Someday I'll get one for a container in the backyard.

  3. I haven't been there in a year! Thanks for the link to the Roger's article. I've never been able to do anything but guess at the identity of the red-flowered Aloes.

    1. I'm glad I found that link. While it's a few years old, it seems that many plants are still there.

  4. You made me giggle with your warts and skin growth when you see ornamental kale comment, because my hubby says the same thing every year I plant it! :) I am still amazed that I did not know, until I started visiting your blog, that aloe flowers. And it is so beautiful. Its florets shape remind me of the Veronica.

    1. Aloe flowers come in a large variety of colors and shapes. They're the one good thing about winter for me.


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