Showing posts from March, 2023

Oh, the irony!

This is a common sight in big-box garden centers: It still irritates my eye balls, but short of scratching them out, there’s nothing I can do. Yesterday, though, I spotted a new iteration: “Nature Perfect Succulents,” the display proclaims in faux handwriting. To reach an even wider audience, there’s also a Spanish version: “Suculentas son la perfección de la naturaleza.” Translating as “Succulents are nature’s perfection,” it ups the melodrama another notch. If succulents are so perfect to begin with, then why do they have to be painted ghastly shades of pink, purple, and blue? Can the perpetrators of this crime against botany not see the irony in this? It sure wasn’t lost on me! But this was just act #1 of the horror show. Indulging my masochistic streak, I took in act #2... ...and act #3: Admittedly, googly eyes aren’t on the same level of perversion as act #1 and #2. In fact, they can be quite droll: There are plenty of people who claim that googly eyes make everything look better

Mangave cold tolerance: a comprehensive list

A friend recently asked me if I know of a resource that gives the cold hardiness of mangaves. The information she was looking for is out there, but it's in bits and pieces. This gave me the idea of collating this information into one comprehensive list. The result is below.  To make the list easy to find, I've created a permanent page on Succulents and More. To access it, simply click the Mangave Cold Tolerance link in the header of every post. The following list  gives the cold tolerance of most known mangave varieties. The most useful sources  of information are the websites of San Marcos Growers and Plant Delights Nursery . I also give the agave and manfreda parents of each variety (where known); this helps infer likely cold hardiness based on parentage. This list should be a good starting point for your own trials.  If your experience differs from the list, please leave a comment at the bottom of the  Mangave Cold Tolerance   page.    © Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights rese

Braving the rain to visit John B's aloe garden in Richmond

Standing around in the pouring rain is not something I do on a regular basis. But when it involves checking out cool plants and yakking with friends, the normal rules don’t apply. Such was the case last Saturday when fellow plant nerds Kyle and Justin and I made the drive to Richmond to visit common friend John’s aloe-centric garden. I’d blogged about John’s garden in July 2021 ( here ) and was eager to see how his plants had grown. Rain may cause discomfort in humans who linger out in the open, especially when they foolishly choose inadequate clothing (me, looking sheepish in the mirror), but it does something wonderful: It makes even muted colors pop. The photos in this post are vivid proof, and this is a superb example: Royal blue pot overflowing with Aloe cameronii flushed tomato soup red John’s house is painted a vibrant turqoise which can be seen from a block away. When people ask him how they can tell which house is his, he can confidently say, “Trust me, you’ll know.” The co

Sun, blue sky: a rare break in the rain

This winter is one for the history books. After years of drought, California has been blessed/inundated with enormous amounts of precipitation. The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is at a near-record high, which will go a long way toward replenishing California’s water supply—and potentially cause disastrous flooding once the snow starts to melt. Here in Davis, we don’t get snow, but our rainfall total since the beginning of the 2022/2023 water year on October 1, 2023 has been an impressive 26"—and the season isn’t over yet. Compare that to a total of 6.61" for the 2020/2021 water year and 16.82" for the 2021/2022 water year! What I’m trying to say is that it’s been raining a lot. And it’s been chilly, far cooler than usual. Sacramento, 15 miles to the east of Davis, had its coldest February since 1989 . As a result, there’s been little growth in my garden, but plenty of damage from persistently wet conditions. But this post isn’t about that . It’s about something that we