Update on the Sacramento C&SS demonstration garden

In November 2018, the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) created a small demonstration garden at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center (SGA&C) in East Sacramento where, in normal times, we get together for our monthly meetings. I documented the initial planting in this post

In the two years since, club volunteers have added more plants and done the occasional weeding. Succulents being succulents, virtually no maintenance has been needed beyond that.

A couple of days ago (January 9, 2021), I dropped by to add some aloes and agaves I'd removed from our own garden. With monthly meetings suspended because of COVID-19, I hadn't been at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in almost a year, and the progress in the SCSS demonstration bed has been heartening to see.

Here's the bed on January 9, 2021:

For comparison, here's a photo from November 10, 2018:

The SCSS originally bought a few larger "anchor" plants, but most of them were donations from club members. That's why there's such a difference in size. Still, even plants that used to be moderately-sized offsets in November 2018 have put on a lot of growth. The small plants you see in these photos are more recent additions.

Agave × leopoldii (Agave filifera × schidigera)

Agave × leopoldii 

The various specimens of Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' have done particularly well

Agave vivipara 'Marginata' (left) and Agave parryi (right)

The 5,000 pounds of boulders we had brought in turned out to be a great investment, adding a lot of visual interest

Unfortunately, I noticed that several agaves showed signs of eriophyoid mite infestation. Even a few years ago, seeing agave mites in Northern California was relatively uncommon, but that has changed. The telltale signs are brown lesions, most often on the underside of the leaves, as well as unsightly grease stains.

This Agave macroacantha is a classic example.

Treatment is possible (see here and here), but the miticides required are very expensive. For common species like this one, the easiest approach is to simply remove the plant and toss it in the garbage (not compost). That's exactly what I did here.

As I mentioned earlier, the reason why I was at the Shepard Garden & Art Center was to plant a bunch of Aloe elgonica and Agave 'Red Margin' I'd dug up from my own garden. Here's my red wagon loaded with Aloe elgonica:

And here's where the Aloe elgonica cuttings went:

The camellias planted in the 1960s are still there, and we need to work around them

The courtyard where the SCSS has its annual sale is on the other side of the fence

I also planted some Agave 'Red Margin', a older hybrid with the same parentage as 'Blue Glow' (Agave attenuata  × Agave ocahui):

Agave 'Red Margin' next to the boulder, with three Agave × leopoldii in front of it

There's still quite a bit of room so I plan to return soon with more plants from my garden. I'm hoping monthly in-person meetings will be able to resume later in the year so more SCSS members can enjoy our demonstration bed. 

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  1. What a gift to the community! Now I'm off to learn more about eriophyoid mite...

    1. I've tossed a handful of agaves in my own collection that came with mites when I got them. And I have two quarantined right now. I've accepted it as a fact of life and am very vigilant.

  2. Your team did a great job in this space! I'd like to see similar design skills employed in my local botanic garden's desert area :)

  3. I was wondering how that garden was doing. It looks great. It looks loved and cared for, which makes all the difference. Bravo, Sacramento C&SS!

    1. I'm very grateful to everybody who's helped. I'm not the "brain" behind this project, just a helper.

  4. It must feel wonderful to share the abundance of plants that you have with the Shepard Garden demonstration bed. And then return periodically and watch it mature.

    1. It sure does. The plants we chose are fairly common, but maybe that makes seeing the amount of progress even more gratifying.


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