Trip to Inter-City 2021 and other Southern California destinations

I just got back from another whirlwind road trip, this time to Southern California. The primary reason was to attend the Inter-City Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale at the Los Angeles County Arboretum last weekend. I had a fantastic time hunting for plants in the sale area, ogling at the hundreds of specimens entered in the show, and talking shop with fellow plant nerds. In spite of most people wearing masks, I almost forgot that we're in a pandemic.

I also used the opportunity to go exploring in the L.A. County Arboretum and squeezed in visits to the Huntington, the Theodore Payne Foundation, the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum, and Plant Depot and Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano. And I had lunch with Kris Peterson of Late to the Garden Party and spent quality time with my younger daughter. If you feel exhausted reading this, I sympathize!

This is just a brief teaser. I'll have a number of individual posts in the weeks to come; the first of them is about my plant haul.

As always, the 35th Annual Inter-City Cactus and Succulent Show and Sale was held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia. The show was inside Ayres Hall (on the left in the photo above), and the sale was under the gray tent on the right. 20 vendors were selling plants running the gamut from aloes to zamias as well handmade pottery. The sale ran from Friday to Sunday; L.A. County Arboretum members were able to get in as early as 7:30 a.m., allowing me to take a look at all the plants before they got whisked away by eager shoppers. This was definitely a case of the early bird getting the worm.

The plant sale area was actually larger than it looks in these photos

I only took a few photos inside the plant sale tent because the lighting was tricky and I was focused on, well, shopping.

Dudleyas and more from Grow Nursery in Cambria

While there were plenty of pricy plants...

...there were just as many bargains, like this $50 Aloidendron dichotomum

According to this article in the Los Angeles Times, 118 members of the three organizing clubs—the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society, and the Long Beach Cactus Club—entered 1,300 plants in the judged show. Many were wonderful, some were odd, but all of them were interesting. Below are a few; the Inter-City Instagram account has many more.

This variegated Mangave 'Bloodspot' took 1st place in the Agave category

Some of the top award winners on the trophy stage

One of my personal favorites was this creeping devil (Stenocereus eruca) displayed in a shallow rectangular tray

A few teaser photos from the L.A. County Arboretum:

Bismarckia nobilis and Aloe vaombe on the right

Euphorbia horrida

The Huntington is only a few miles from the L.A. County Arboretum. On Saturday afternoon, two friends and I did some exploring there:

Golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii) and Agave parryi var. truncata

Agave impressa

Opuntia gomei 'Old Mexico'

On Sunday, I visited the California State University Fullerton Arboretum. It recently reopened after being closed for over a year because of COVID. I'd never been there and was pleasantly surprised.

Agave attenuata growing right into the water

Madagascar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera)

Tree grape (Cyphostemma juttae)


In addition to the public gardens above, I also went to a few nurseries. What a surprise, right? 

Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano was well stocked, and if I hadn't just bought a ton of plants at the Inter-City Show, I probably would have done some damage there. 

Mystery echeveria (it did have a label, I just forgot to take a picture of it)

Agave potatorum 'Portillo Nejapa' from San Marcos Growers

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta', another great plant from San Marcos Growers

While in San Juan Capistrano, I also swung by Tree of Life Nursery, one of Southern California's premier native plant nursery. I bought a few dudleyas as well some desert perennials to plant in the hottest parts of our front yard. The photos below were taken in their display gardens.

Dudleya pachyphytum

Dudleya pulverulenta

Dudleya brittonii

Unlabeled dudleya

My daughter and I did some sightseeing in Newport Beach, including a wonderful walk along the waterfront on Balboa Island, one of several man-made islands in Newport Harbor.

Almost every window of this multi-million dollar house right on the water was blocked by piles of teddy bears. To each their own, right?

Newport Beach is definitely Reagan Country

Furcraea foetida 'Medio Picta'

At least they're asking nicely!

Agave attenuata and stylish outdoor furniture in front of a corner store

Ending our Newport Beach outing with donuts from Seaside Donuts, an Orange County institution (the donuts are phenomenal)

Beach across the street from Seaside Donuts

Needless to say I brought home some plants—just a few, haha! Not all of them are mine, though; some belong to my friend Theresa whose car was full already.

Click here to read more about my plant haul.


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  1. It was great to see you! I'm glad you got the opportunity to relax at the Farmhouse for lunch after all that running about. I was awe-struck by that variegated 'Bloodspot' Mangave and sorry that I passed on the C&SS sale but there's always next year. I look forward to seeing your follow-up posts.

    1. I'm hoping next year we won't have to worry about COVID so much. *Hoping* :-)

  2. That is some serious running around on the freeways! So sorry the meetup didn't work out on Friday at the Arboretum -- next time!

    1. In general, traffic was less bad than I expected. Some slowdowns, sure, but nothing major.

      Yes, next time!!!

  3. The show and sale look incredible. I hope you will have more pictures of what was there. The Agave 'Medio Picta' is stunning. You covered a lot of ground in a few days and am definitely looking forward to upcoming posts.

    1. It felt wonderful being around so many like-minded plant nerds.

  4. I'm sorry I missed the show, but...just wasn't up for going anywhere. Appears you had a great time and bought a plant or two. Looking forward to your report on the show and all the rest of your SoCal jaunt.

    1. Looking forward to catching up on my next trip south, sometime in the fall!


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