Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

A couple nights ago I found myself sitting in my small greenhouse appreciating my cacti collection. It’s a great place for the cacti to live, they enjoy the extra heat and seem to thrive in this environment. While the rest of my garden gets generously watered the cacti house is on a much more moderate watering regime. Behind a wall of towering scarlet runner beans, the greenhouse is a good place to take a moment out and contemplate one’s life. I’ve always been attracted to close quarters and this is a bit a small sanctuary for me, an obscure sense of privacy is obtained in a city bustling with life. While hopelessly gapping out, I found myself in the golden hour and quickly ran to grab my camera. For all you cacti and succulent fans, here’s a small peak into some of my collection.

I recently found this cacti pot at a flea market for 3 bucks. While the pot has 3 different specimens, none impressed me more then this small spike ball. So far a NOID for me, it looks somewhat like a euphorbia. Either way a nice score. 

A closer look, the needles gather water in the most unusual way.

Echeveria glauca, the first echeveria to really grab my interests, pre gardener.

The very first time I spotted one of these in flower I was smitten. This was long before I knew anything about plants, but I remember it grabbing me. It seemed so unusual, out of a hallucination or willy wonka movie. These succulents are almost anti gravityin their ability to repel water miraculously. They’re covered in a light white dust that mixes with water and creates a strange gel. I’m still unsure why they have this powder but asthetically it enhances the color of these fine plants. With that in mind I suspect it helps the plant in one way or another and shouldn’t be wiped off. Look with your eyes not your hands. A drop of water in the crown of the echeveria makes for a cheap crystal ball.


Ok just one more photo, incredible!

Upon closer inspection Agave bovicornuta has a menacing look. War scars tattoo it’s large succulent leaves, while it’s crown thorns say “No Touch”


A closer look: looks like a chainsaw blade.


Parodia Haselbergii (scarlett ball cactus) is flowering again. I found this one in Feburary and it was in bud then, I’m happy to see another set of blooms in the same year. It’s loving life outside.

A closer look at it’s neon orange flowers. For more information on this plant, see a post earlier this year, Parodia Haselbergii (scarlett ball cactus)

Pleiospilos nelii otherwise known as Split Rock was aquired late spring. Since then it has completed discarded it’s old fleshy body and replaced it with these new ones. It’s essentially the same size but fresh, quite strange. 

It has the strangest spotted patterns, nature is the most intricate artist. I know a pointilist that get’s hand cramps doing this kind of work.

Echeveria runyonii has similar flowers to Echeveria glauca but super sized. Outstanding.

Graptoveria paraguayense ‘Fred Ives’ has been reliably beautiful all year round, aquired from a friend last year.

As far as giant African succulents go, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora is a must have. It’s doubtful I’ll ever see it flower, but regardless it has a worthwhile presence in the garden.

Euphorbia obesa also known as (baseball plant), I’ve wanted one for what seems forever. This specimen followed me home one day on an accidental nursery tour. A choice succulent.


Looking up from my greenhouse I’m pleased to see Disocactus flagelliformis (rat tail cactus) loving life in a characteristally unusual hang spot. 


After visiting the hot south I feel a bit ridiculous collecting cacti and succulents in the way I do. When you visit a tropical cacti garden and see them at truly enormous statures it makes you feel a bit silly for nursing them along in small containers. Of course this is the beauty of being a gardener in the 21st century, one has never had more access to species then right now. If I want to hang a cacti in a maple tree, then that’s my prerogative. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

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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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