Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

We woke up Sunday morning bright and early, grabbed some greasy drive-through breakfast, and off we went. While it may seem like a bit of a feat to drive 3 hours to visit a nursery, Valley Succulents was well worth the effort. Truly the only nursery of it’s kind on Vancouver Island (and maybe the mainland as well) Valley Succulents is a small nursery that specializes in strange and unusual cacti and succulents.

The drive was a breeze and a real pleasure on a cloudy Sunday in June. 

Having seen nearly 250km of roadside blue flowering lupins, we decided to pull over and take a closer look and gather a couple specimens. 

I’m unsure of if these lupins are native, garden escape or some sort  of wildflower distribution. Either way they were an incredible sight at this time of year.

The lupins could be spotted in the ditches from Victoria all the way to Courtney, over a million lupins in bloom. Makes you feel a bit silly for buying a Russell hybrid at the garden center up the hill. 

A couple hours later and many kilometers behind us, we took the turn off into Courtney through to Comox and eventually arrived at Valley Succulents. An inconspicuous little nursery, upon arrival we were greeted by the owner & grower, Jamey Lauinger. Here is an individual I could relate with. After a quick introduction and a small exchange of words it was apparent that you were speaking with true hobbyist and plant madman. The nursery is small, but packed full of the strange and the unusual. In fact, I’ve never seen such an amazing variety of cacti and succulents. Jamey brings the exotic to the Arctic isle. Cacti nurseries may be common place in the warmer parts of the United states, but they are virtually non-existent in Canada. “Agaves, euphorbias and trichocereus oh my”. Even though I had just finished a successful plant hoarding mission the day before, I couldn’t help but to load up on many well sought after treasures.

Upon arrival

His variety was great in all realms of succulent, mesemb and cacti. Might I add that his sedums, agave and opuntia selection is unsurpassed by any other nursery on the island. Bonus points for keeping prices low and sometimes borderline bargain. I found specimens that you can’t find anywhere else but online & out of country. It was nice to skip the song and dance of customs and borders, Jamey brings it to you local, high quality and affordable. Whether your’re a plant geek or novice, it’s worth picking his brain. Jamey is a resource and a wealth of information. It was refreshing to speak with someone who was so obviously passionate about what they were doing.

A carpenter by trade, Jamey built his 1500ft greenhouse last year and has only recently opened the doors to the public as of May 5th, 2012.

The greenhouse is beautifully constructed and is a lovely place to find oneself on a Sunday afternoon.

Trichocereus standing tall.

Many of the tables had flood beds so the succulents could be watered from below. I dream of integrating these into my greenhouse someday…

Cute Sedum rubrotinctum terracotta pots.

Even though the space is small, he packs a lot in. Make sure to take an extra close look, there’s so much to see.

I love Pleiospilos nelii!

An exotic Euphorbia albipollinifera was a must have.

A Trichocereus lobivia in bud.

Fuzzy cacti!

I’ve recently become obsessed with terrestrial bromeliads, this Hechtia argentea charmed it’s way into my collection.

Epithelantha micromeris has such a perfect sphere shape it’s hard to believe it’s real.

Hands down the best agave selection on the island.

Lobivia atrovirens

Echeveria hybrid

Euphorbia horrida ‘Snowflake’

Valley Succulents doubles as a botanical garden in it’s diversity.

I love being able to share the fascinating world of plants with my girlfriend, it’s nice to know someone close to me can appreciate the same madness. “Which one of you are coming home with us!?”.

Astrophytum myriostigma

The latest plant haul, how could I resist. I know, I know, where all this going to go?

In conclusion, Valley Succulents is an incredible new nursery that is well worth the long trip up island. A perfect day-trip for the botanically inclined, give yourself an excuse to go for a Sunday drive and support this madman so he continues to grow more outrageous and exotic cacti and succulents. I for one was pleased with my adventure and hope to travel up there again in the near future. Affordable, local and exotic.

Visit his website @ www.ValleySucculents.com 

By appointment. Phone: 250.465.1338 

2210 Anderton Road  Comox, BC V9M 4B1

Regular Hours 
Fridays – 12pm-5pm
Saturdays – 1pm-5pm
Sundays – 9am-4pm

5 Responses to Cactus Weekend – A trip up to Valley Succulents

  • Jesse says:

    I’m so lucky. I live 10 minutes from Valley Succulents. Its like driving by heaven everyday to and from work. Got a bunch of hardy agaves from there yesterday. If you can, visit it, but you might want to bring a U-haul.

  • Superb. The standard of the nurseries you visit seems to be very high (perhaps they all are in Vancouver) and as you say the greenhouse is beautiful. Great haul you got there – possibly even quite restrained. D

  • Wow, this is a nursery that would do any location proud! Great selection of beautiful plants. I’d drive three hours to visit it :-).

    It looks like you got a TON of plants. Please do a separate post describing them. What are the two cacti in the bottom right?

    BTW, I just got a RED Pleiospilos nellii at Lowe’s. It looks like somebody poured pomegranate juice all over it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.