Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Today was a good day. As my time off work is quickly coming to an end I’ve found myself really appreciating the lazy dog days of December. After having a leisurely late breakfast, I spent much of the afternoon cleaning up my outdoor potting area. It’s amazing how messy the area has become, a year’s worth of frantic potting, failed seedlings, and nursery refugees can get out of hand. Why I bother to keep 400 4″ plastic pots is beyond me, maybe one day I’ll wake up from this insanity. After cleaning I rotated the compost heap and marveled in the successful process of turning food waste into black gold. Last year I threw a couple handfuls of large earthworms into the compost, this season they’ve multiplied into thousands. The center of the compost held a dense layer of wiggling worms, I have never seen more in all my life.


I know, gross, but look at all of them, and this was only one scoop.


“Quick! Honey! Grab me the camera, I’ve gotta photograph these worms!” . . . . . *blink* *blink*

In more exciting news, a plant package I had been expecting for some time now arrived at my door. As I wondered to the front of the house, I saw a post office truck parked outside, it seems he was in the process of writing me a parcel slip because I didn’t answer the door. Thrilled to have caught him before he left, I signed the the bill and grabbed my package frantically. I love receiving packages in the mail, and a plant package is even better. The order I speak of was from Absolute Cactus, a most excellent mail-order cacti and succulent nursery located in California. What’s better Diane at Absolute Cactus went through the trouble of hand-wrapping my plants for extra effect, with nice little envelopes with cultivation tips to boot. I love belated Christmas gifts.


Absolute Cactus plant order


Do I need a second Euphorbia obesa? No… Did I order one… Yes… Yes I did…


After seeking out some pots for these fine specimens (EI stealing them from bonsai’d horse chestnuts) they were potted up with fresh cacti soil, gravel and sand.

Although this Dudleya attenuata looks a bit worse for wear, I’m confident it will spring back to life. Harvested with permission from a cattle ranch in California, Dudleya attenuata are rare plants indeed. Often referred to live forever plants, this specimen is believed to be over 50 years old. Although this photo doesn’t do it justice, each echeveria-esk rosette comes out of a small woody caudex. Winter growing, Dudleyas are said to be tough plants. The one thing to keep in mind of course is not to over-water them, especially in their summer dormant period. This Dudleya had a large tap root underneath it’s caudex stem and I planted it in 50% gravel, 20% sand and 30% cacti soil, let’s see if it’s a recipe for success.

After all the excitement of my new plants this afternoon I went out for dinner at my girlfriend’s mother’s house. Salmon and scallop potatoes, and more presents, lucky me. Having just returned from a trip to South Africa, her mother and partner, got me a very nice Protea seed kit and book about Kirsten Bosch Botanical Gardens. I found this to be an incredibly thoughtful gift and I look forward to seeing if I can get them to grow.


Amazing Protea seed kit from a small South African Seed Company Fine Bush People


It’s quite a nice way to lay out seeds, and as a product it’s a real winner. They have the strangest fuzzy seeds, only time will tell if I can get them to grow. 6 new species of tender perennials to care for, ok, you guys can follow me home too.

Today was a good day.

4 Responses to Cleaning, Compost & Cacti, and Protea too!

  • The Victoria Gardener says:

    Hahah, tis true. I keep the extra plastic pots with dreams of propagating, succulents and sedums, ajuga and whatever else is my fancy of the day. Still, then I go from 400 4″ pots, to 400 pots of sedum, which seems like wealth but is still essentially more accumulation of things I don’t need.

  • A good day indeed. What a way to end 2011! I’ve got to check out Absolutely Cactus. That Euphorbia obesa looks mighty fine, and I don’t have one yet. (All the ones you see around here are dinky.)

    Speaking of plastic pots, I gave away at least 100 1-gallon pots on Freecycle last year. I still have a large assortment of 4″ pots but I’m reusing them for succulent cuttings. Which creates another whole set of issues–after all, how many Graptopetalum paraguayense or Echeveria subsessilis cuttings does a guy need?

  • Wow a great day indeed, and what a fine gift from your girlfriends mom! Did she visit Kirstenbosch? That’s a dream of mine. Can’t wait for a progress report on your Protea seeds. (oh and btw yes, if my ruby Euphorbia takes off a cutting is yours, if you can tell me how to go about getting it to you. Isn’t shipping to Canada difficult?).

  • Mark and Gaz says:

    I still find it quite annoying when plants arrive looking dishevelled from being packed and travelling, but they soon sort themselves out once repotted. Your plants will look great again by the end of winter :)

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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.
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