A succulent nursery in the Gold Country

What we call the Gold Country is the area on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada where gold was discovered by James Marshall on January 24, 1848, triggering the California Gold Rush.

Marshall found gold while working on building Sutter’s Mill, a water-powered sawmill on the South Fork of the American River in the settlement of Coloma. And that’s where my frequent partner-in-crime Kyle and I were headed last weekend, not to pan for gold, but to visit a modern-day pioneer who is establishing a small succulent nursery outside of Coloma.

Amie Frisch in her greenhouse

After leaving the Bay Area three years ago, Amie Frisch has been living in Coloma full-time, developing her 20-acre parcel of land and building her first greenhouse. At 20 ft. wide by 40 ft. long, it looks huge to me (the little greenhouse in my backyard is only 7 ft. × 8 ft.). But it will be dwarfed by the second greenhouse Amie is planning; that one will be 70 ft. long!

Amie specializes in Crassulaceae, i.e. plants in the stonecrop family. This includes everything from aeoniums and crassulas to echeverias, kalanchoes, sedums, and sempervivums – and about 30 other genera, 1400 species in total. Amie just reopened her online store, Vivid Root, with a small selection of what she’ll eventually offer. She will also be a vendor at the upcoming Show & Sale of the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society on May 3–5, 2024 at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in Sacramento.

Amie’s greenhouse

I don’t know how many plants are in Amie’s greenhouse, but thousands. Many of the plants I saw were completely new to me. For the photos below, I’ll add an ID where I’m reasonably certain, but there are many without an ID. Just enjoy the plants the way I did – marveling at the myriad shapes, textures, and colors.

Seed starting setup

Tiny Astrophytum myriostigma seedlings

Densely packed tray of strings of pearls, many variegated (Curio rowleyanus)

Fishbone cactus (Disocactus anguliger)

Finally a plant I could identify, Sempervivum arachnoideum

More sempervivums

Pretty red Echeveria...

...with pretty red flowers

Echeveria agavoides ‘Romeo’

Sempervivum globiferum subsp. allionii

Echeveria rubicaulis 'Candy Cane'

Echeveria ‘Rainbow’

Crassula of one kind or another

Variegated Crassula 'Moonglow' 

Crassula pyramidalis ‘Buddha’s Temple’

Crassula pyramidalis ‘Buddha’s Temple’

Crassula pyramidalis ‘Buddha’s Temple’

Peanut cactus (Echinopsis chamaecereus)

Not dinosaur eggs, but a monstrose form of Trichocereus bridgesii

Lithops, too

Greenovia sp., a close Aeonium relative

Greenovia sp.

Medusa head-type Euphorbia

Baseball plant (Euphorbia obesa)

After an overwhelming hour inside the greenhouse, we walked around outside. The freshly leafed out oak trees were beautiful, as were the views.

Looking back at the greenhouse

Amie’s dog Yarrow

Every nursery needs a dog. OK, a cat will do in a pinch.

I have mad respect for people like Amie who quit their corporate life to pursue a dream. Building a nursery from scratch is a daunting undertaking, but she’s determined to make it happen. I won’t lie, a part of me is envious, but I wouldn’t have the energy to do what Amie is doing, so I’ll simply buy her plants.

If you’re planning to go to the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society’s Show & Sale on May 3–5, be sure to stop at Amie’s table. If not, check out her website, VividRoot.net.

© Gerhard Bock, 2024. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. What a wonderful profile and a wonderful selection of Crassulaceae plants! The property is beautiful, too.

  2. Very impressive indeed. Plants look well grown. Dog looks very happy!

  3. I have great respect for people who make life changes like that too, especially when their new lives focus around plants. I'm also very pleased to see more small nurseries opening up now after watching so many small family-owned nurseries shut down over the course of the last 10+ years.

  4. I wish her lots of luck. We need more small growers to provide us with more unusual plants. tons of work but I bet it is very satisfying. Thanks for the great tour. Amie has some great plants. Love those semps that look like they are growing out of a donut.

  5. Wow, what a beautiful place in the world! In the photo you caption "More sempervivums" (and the one below it) it looks like the plants are emerging from a crust. What's going on there? (and what did you buy?)

  6. Wow, what a dream come true! I'll check out her website, I just may make it out to the show as well.

  7. Well, I definitely would have left there with a flat or so of plants. I agree with Loree, that one sempervivum emerging from its old set of leaves is amazing!


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