Succulents and Cacti
A fantastic year to be growing plants. We had hardly a rainy day all season. Now with the coming of September rain clouds have been gathering and we’ve had a good dump of moisture. A lushness is being replenished in the lands. The plants are thoughly enjoying the precipitation. Thus I have finally been relieved of my watering duties for a few days; here I have a moment to share a few photos.
A few days ago, as if only for moment my Heurnia Kennedyana bloomed. I acquired this plant via a cutting from the U.K. and have had it for nearly 3 years now. It grew from a grape sized piece to the specimen pictured below. I’ve tried many types of steplia over the years but haven’t had much success. Gangs of mealybugs seem to always gather and gnaw and just when you think they’re all gone you spot a few more. For some reason Heurnia Kennedyana hasn’t had a single one on it. It responds to it’s place on the windowsill and likes a drink weekly in the summer. The flower bud was no bigger than a dime, was spotted one day, flowered the next, and was done. A brief moment for a most unusual flower. Makes me think of surrealist artwork. I thought it might stink but it didn’t have a scent.
And while we’re talking flowers. I caught this gymnocalycium species flowering the other day as well.
Now to start planning the great plant migration. So many potted succulents need a warm home for the winter.
A quick peak into my dry cactus bed today.
Noid cactus (gymnocalycium?)
The days are getting shorter, the weather wetter and like it or not, winter – IS – coming. Nothing makes you miss a summer vacation to a hot cactus wonderland like a couple weeks of good old fashioned British Columbia rain and gray. Let’s take a moment to forget the wet boots and mud puddles and reminisce of warmer days.
Add this one to your bucket list if you have a fascination in exotic plants, The Huntington Botanical Gardens is truly a national landmark. Famous for it’s large amassment of established rare flora, the garden has one of the finest collections of outdoor cacti in the world. Beyond succulents, the property also has many other incredible plant collections organized into over a dozen specialized gardens. Wander through a lush bamboo forest into a dry Australian prairie, up through a Camellia forest and across a bridge to the Japanese Gardens. Whether you’d like to visit a cloud forest in a glasshouse, indoor bog or art museum, anyone with good taste will find satisfaction in a trip to this awe inspiring location.
To start off I’ll share some of the photos I took in the succulent gardens. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my entire life.
Upon entering you’re greeted by agaves and aloe trees.
Large Agave attenuata in a sea of Aeoniums
In Canada we grow our aloes in terracotta pots, here they grow as big as trees.
This euphorbia was well over 15 feet tall.
A large Pachypodium (madagascar palm) in flower.
While my Cyphostemma juttae grows painfully slow, this one looks better than ever. I love fat plants.
Speaking of fat plants, Tylecodon paniculatus.
More aloes that rival small trees.
A favorite of many caudiciform collectors, one of the largest Dioscorea elephantipes in cultivation.
A twisted labyrinth of cacti and succulents.
The geometric shapes of euphorbia never cease to amaze.
I was happy to have encountered this clump of Haworthia forming these incredible emerald hills.
It looks as though these notocactus leninghausii are looking at someone. Is it something I said?
I’ve never seen so many specimen worthy succulents all packed into on location. This shot reminds of me a Richard Scarry picture.
A rather charming clump of a personal favorite, Parodia magnifica.
Impressive clumps of Echinocereus grusonii were abundant throughout the garden.
Although not exactly rare in cultivation, the size of these clumps is certainly impressive.
Need I say more?
Mammillaria compressa looks good on it’s own.
..but looks better in mass.
This one looks well defended.
There were also abundant large specimen agave in all shapes and sizes.
Lovely spiky rosettes.
An oldgrowth Queen Victoria Agave.
Please note the large agave bloom spike center stage.
They just grow bigger down here.
Field of echeveria
A towering yucca tree in bloom under the hot Californian sun.
Knobby Cactus. (ID PLEASE)
Fresh from Mars, they’ve landed.
Speaking of knobby cacti check out this impressive Lophocereus schottii var. monstrose.
…And now for some flowers
Stapelia gigantea in bloom, mind the odor and take it from me, do not get down on your knees and take a big whiff. You might want to eject your lunch, they don’t call it a carrion flower for nothing.
Whew. Are you’re legs sore? Hearts warmed? Heat Stroked and Sun Burnt? No… Oh wait, we’re still in Canada aren’t we.
Theres no place like good old wet home.
Thanks for joining me on this tour, and thank you Huntington Gardens for preserving such an incredible destination. Stay tuned for more photos of other parts of the Huntington Gardens.
Being a plant collector is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever embarked on. In a world where most things have been discovered, plant collecting brings that much needed astonishment to life. As the collection grows, so does my intrigue, nature never fails to amaze me. It started off honest enough, a few potted plants in the living room, “wow those look great”. Nearly 4 years later and hundreds of plants added to the equation and I’m one one busy boy. While many collectors specialize in one specific genera of plant life, I can’t help but to dabble in most. The more plants in the collection, the more amazement that is added to my life, the dream is to create one never ending fireworks display.
One group of plants that I find particularly interesting is cacti and succulents. It’s easy to fall in love with succulents. They’re often easy to grow, require little maintenance and are by far the strangest and most mysterious of all plant life. A couple weeks ago I brought some of my collection outdoors to photograph and inventory. I had hoped that in time I would write in depth plant profiles on these amazing plants, but the more I think about it, the more I think that’s a bit far fetched. With a large collection such as mine, a busy work schedule and a meager social life it’s hard enough keeping regular blog posts going, let alone getting overly academic with my writing. Smart writing is for the winter, fun photographic tours are the best I can do for now. So rather then hoarding the photos until a later date I thought today was as good a day as any to take a peak at some of the gems in my collection. Another plant tour, “Yes Please!”
2012 Cacti and Succulent tour:
A staple in any succulent collection, Euphorbia obesa are easy to grow and are ranked high in my books. Some have warned me to give them a winter dormant period but mine still gets a regular drink. It’s pot seems to go dry every 3-4 days and it gets a small drink shortly after. It’s rewarded my care with lots of fresh growth and some new flower buds. Looks like an alien egg to me, perhaps we don’t have to look up to the stars any longer.
Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Thx for the id Gerhard) This small potted specimen has a funny story attached to it. About a year and a half ago I purchased an established 4″ pot of this plant, and attempted to do some cuttings. Shortly after taking the cuttings, the mother plant got an infection and deflated and died a few weeks later. 2 years from the date of this catastrophe, the few remaining cuttings are still only 1/3 the size.. Plant collecting does involve some trial and error.
Who couldn’t love Graptoveria amethorum. Miniature echeveria-esk rossettes that don’t elongate or get strange with indoor culture. This plant has remained tidy and compact throughout overwintering on the front window sill. Some say they rot easily, but underpotted in terracotta, mine seem tolerant enough of the wet stuff. A personal favorite.
My oldgrowth Sinningia leucotricha has started to wake up from it’s winter sleep. It flowers with the emergance of new leaves, and at this time of year it seems a thirsty plant indeed. Known for their ability to survive neglect, I’m not particularily worried about this plant. Which is good, I need a couple easy oddities in the collection. Thank you Linda Macewko for sharing this plant with me.
I love plectranthus and plectranthus ernestii is no exception. Unlike other plectranthus in my collection, this one will eventually grow an interesting caudex. The leaves have a light aroma when crushed, these plants make excellent bonsai specimens.
As many true succulent growers are probably shaking their heads right now, I’ve taken a different approach with this specimen. While normally I break my echeverias down and re-root them when the elongate like this, I’ve encouraged this one to grow strange. A little copper wire and a stake and my graptoveria gets to reach for the stars. So far I’m pleased with the results.
Thanks for joining me for the tour.
In the plant kingdom, it doesn’t get much stranger then Pseudolithos migiurtinus. A living fractal obscurity, this warty living stone is native to Somalia and is definitely a long way from home. Growing in grit on hot dry slopes in Africa, pseudolithos aren’t exactly easy to grow in cultivation. Too much water, or not enough and your pseudolithos will turn into expensive mush. I received two in an order from Thailand, this one’s pair quickly rotted after being transplanted. Best to under-pot these in a well draining medium. Mine lives on a heat pad under grow lights, receiving a couple spoonfuls of water a week at best. There are currently 5 species listed under pseudolithos and there could be more but Somelia is a difficult place to practice botany. Read more in an interesting article I found here.
Pseudolithos migiurtinus So Strange.