Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Over the winter months I met a local cacti collector who is in the midst of reducing the size of their collection. While spring plant sales are a lot of fun, nothing is more exciting then viewing and aquiring plants from a private collection. On Sunday I paid her a visit and she shared some really incredible specimens with me.

The latest plant hoarding: “I can’t stop.”


Sedum hintonii (syn. Sedum mocinianum), Echeveria van keppel, Rhasalis pilocarpa, A NOID Stepelia,  astrophytum senile, noid agave, Euphorbia obsesa, Euphorbia stellispina, and a 65-80 year old Echinopsis!

I had a really great visit, saw some great specimens, and left with this amazing lot. A great big thank you for sharing these old-growth beauties with me, I’m looking forward to having them in my care and watching them grow.

A closer look.


Notocactus sp. What an unusual form.


I have a nice collection of steplia growing in the basement, but they’re still young and unestablished. I’m hoping this one to be a bit more impressive this season.


A young noid agave, what can I say, they’re a personal favorite. Any ideas?


I have a hard time saying no to any Euphorbia obesas I come across.  So cool, I need more, 3 isn’t enough!


Another interesting Euphorbia, E. stellispina.


A 31 year old Astrophytum senile, half the size of a football. Gnarly and showing it’s age, it’s quite an incredible specimen. I’m only 27, this cactus has got me beat.


Also a small rooted cutting labeled Sedum hintonii.  Further reading online says that it might be Sedum mocinianum, the main difference being the way it flowers. We shall see. I’m extra pleased about this one.


Onto the most exciting plant find of all my plant hoarding, a 65-80+ year old white flowering echinopsis. I’m absolutely floored about this one. Gnarly but vigorous, this cacti is older then myself, my parents, and was around when my grandmother was a toddler. It could have lived through two world wars, and has seen nations rise and fall. What an amazing find, it’s got the strangest presence.


Even at this old age, it produces fresh pups. Looking deeper into it’s soil, it’s growing almost entirely in gravel and has only had one drink all winter. Hardened off, it now lives outside. I can’t help but to stare at it for the time being.


It’s base shows the wrinkles of an old man, it’s glochids dried up but still effective. Still on seemingly dead wood, the pups grow effortlessly. I can’t wait to see if it flowers this summer.

I’m a happy camper, and so are the plants in my garden. The long days at the nursery have taken their toll on me and I’ve been finding it hard to keep up with this writing. Alas with all these incredible plant events, I feel it’s my duty to share. Here’s a quick photo roll of some of the more interesting things happening in the garden.


I recently planted my echium out, the weather has been mild, and the tropicals are ready to escape their plastic home.


Another angel of the the exotic bed.


My Cardiocrinum giganteum has nearly doubled in size, you can almost see it grow. Looks like we’ll be seeing flowers shortly.


The Japanese azalea seem early this year, what a great pop of spring color!


I didn’t have much luck overwintering my last echium so this one escapes it’s pot and goes straight into the ground. No point in worrying about it’s potential overwintering indoors if it’s going to die anyway. You live here until you don’t. Let’s see a bloom spike!


Melianthus major has some incredible spring colors right now. If you haven’t grown this plant before and see one in a spring planting give it’s leaves a little brush. It’s strangely peanut butter scented.


The Mimulus dentatus (Coast Monkey Flower) planted underneath the scopolia carniolica worked out rather nicely.  I wonder if this combination has been done before… I love monkey flowers, you never loose with mimulus!

I looked down to see this great combination of spring folaige, knipofia, actea, impatiens and wasabia.


Jeffersonia diphylla & Sanguinaria canadensis.


The fresh growth on a Rhodocoma capensis (African restio) which seem to overwinter well here in Victoria.


A Lewisia succulent bowl I put together last spring, that actually still looks nice a year later. WIN!


On the topic of lewisia, here’s a rare white Lewisia in flower. Out of the 300-500 lewisia we grow at the nursery every year, I only ever see 1-3 white ones per season in the mix. This one accidently followed me home.


The Podophyllum peltatum (North American Mayapple) are growing at an incredible rate and this year I have 2 more shoots then last. Looks like a happy podo.


Another podophyllum started poking it’s head up recently, P. hexandrum (Himilayan May Apple). This one was underpreforming in it’s old spot and ended up in this terracotta pot for future traveling ease.


I might have convinced my boss to give me a couple of his Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ seedlings. Excellent!


Androsace sempervivoides is budding and flowering


My girlfriend got cute with some saxifraga cuttings I rooted, it makes for a neat effect. Feng shui?


Abutilon megapotamicum has also returned to the garden. Suspect borderline hardy, I just didn’t have the heart to risk it. The greenhouse has treated it well this season.


A fury of spring stardust. Heuchera micrantha amongst other hybrid heuchera, cyclamen and hepaticas. The life of a plant collector ain’t so bad.

Thanks for stopping by. Almost through the busy season, wish me luck.

10 Responses to Plant Hoarding: Antique Cacti and other planty nonesense

  • Sounds like an amazing find, Nat. When I was a kid, an elderly cacti collector died next door and I was able to take what I wanted from his huge collection. Sadly, I didn’t have the knowledge then to keep them alive (most got frosted I think). Just planted my echiums out too – heres hoping they flower (and set seed). Dave

  • The garden looks really lovely, and congratulations on the awesome cacti acquisitions! Also, that gentian sitting next to them in the pictures is a real stunner!

  • The Victoria Gardener says:

    The small collection of old cacti were a definite bargain, much less then a dollar a year. Didn’t have to break the bank account but also made sure not to rip her off. A good deal for both parties I figure :) .

  • Candy Suter says:

    Great new additions to your plant collection! Some of those cactus especially the really old one is so great. Still producing pups! Wow! Did they cost you a lot? And your succulent bowl is fabulous! Great job!

  • Bret says:

    That echinopsis is amazing. The way it’s producing pups is just wow.

    Could that agave be a agave victoriae-reginae? I’m no expert but the markings reminded me of that variety. It has a little less markings on the center of the leaves but the edges have the right marks.

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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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