Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants


Spring is in the air and you can feel the garden buzz in and around town. People are finally ready to leave their houses again and get their hands dirty. While I’ve been trying my best to show some discretion with my plant hoarding, the medatation seems fruitless and it’s a loosing battle. Like a nervous itch I leave the house in search of strange and wonderful rare plants. There I was camera and tripod in hand aimlessly wondering about Brentwood Bay Nurseries. While it’s still early in the season there was plenty to see. Large agaves, strange perennials and a rainbow of succulents unsurpassed anywhere on Vancouver Island. The rain clouds had passed and I ended up loosing track of time. It was an excellent place to blow a Saturday afternoon and check out some really cool succulents in the process. The lighting was just right and I think I walked away with some pretty good photos. Let’s take a little walk around shall we?

The view at the main tropical house.

The Calla lilies were already in bloom.

An interesting climbing Solanum was also blooming that afternoon.

Apparently somebodies been snagging agave pups. Shame on you!

Another rather nice Agave specimen.

Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ is still on my wish list.

I just couldn’t help slipping in a photo of these Euphorbia myrsinites, what an amazing texture.

They were also kind enough to let me wonder around back and snap some photos in their succulent propagation house.

There were many Aeoniums.

Standing proud on a sunny day

A long way from their home way out on the Canary Islands.

They had a couple large specimens of Crassula sarcocaulis. These make excellent bonsai specimens and are great plants for beginners. While I’ve often dreamed of being a bonsai master, I’m afraid I just don’t have the time to properly care for them. This species is a bit more forgiving, and lends well to selective pruning.

Interesting peeling skin.

The blooms of a large Lampranthus bicolor drew me over in a hurry.

The echeveria were looking incredible. This one had a menacing look to it.

Fresh flower buds spiraling out.

Orange flowering echeveria.

A field of Crassula gollum. It looks like coral.

This almost seems aquatic.

Look at how the water sits on the leaves, early aqueduct inspiration?

Tropical Sedum

Rainbow haworthia?

Faucaria in bloom

One of these Euphorbia mammillaris variegata might have followed me home.

For some reason these succulent euphorbias remind me of medusa. Notice the sideways barbs on the spines to make sure it teaches you a proper lesson if you choose to get too close.

I also might have  convinced them to let me buy this little seed grown Yucca brevifolia (Joshua Tree). For a better idea of what it’ll turn into check out this wiki link

Another successful plant adventure. Be sure to have your own this upcoming sunny weekend. Visit Brentwood Bay Nursery for the strange and the exotic.
1395 Benvenuto Avenue  Brentwood Bay, BC V0S 1A0 (250) 652-1507

Today I found myself organizing the indoor jungle, things were a bit out of control. As the last hours of the day faded to darkness there I was lost in a fury of sorting, trimming, and moving. Things look significantly better now, and it’s setup in a way that everything gets what they need.

Echeveria setosa, March 12th 2011

Anyhow, on to the topic at hand. While sorting through the plants I came across my Echeveria setosa  that I go earlier in spring. While the majority of the plants found their way outside this season, some were left to enjoy the indoor scenery, Echeveria setosa was one of them. While it seems a bit cruel to deprive a plant the luxury of summer freedom (Oh sweet fresh air), there simply wasn’t enough room for all of them. Regardless of such things, it did just fine under the grow light in the living room and rewarded me with a generous amount of side branching Echeveria pups. 12 to be exact, as I decided to clean it up a bit and replant all of the baby suckers. In 8 months the mother plant grew from a small single rosette to over 13 at nearly 3 times it’s original height. This plant is vigorous and I’d almost go as far as saying care free.

My strategy to successful indoor cultivation:
-Little to no fertilizer
-Average watering, maybe even on the dry side once and a while
-Close proximity to a full spectrum grow bulb.
-Grown in a ceramic pot, with pebbles in the bottom for good drainage.

Echeveria setosa, Nov 28th 2011

Fun Fact
Native to Mexico, Echeveria setosa’s common name is a Mexican Firecracker.

It’s amazing what a little winter cleaning does for the mind, something’s strangely satisfying about it. I must say the bonus to being a total plant lunatic is that gardening doesn’t have to end in the winter. What with over 150 potted specimens indoors, gardening is a year round gig. Essentially if this is the kind of thing that makes you happy, I’d count that point as a win.

So a couple weeks back we had a pretty intense freeze, snow out of nowhere and record breaking lows. I think we were seeing -10 weather which in contrast with last winter is pretty unbelievable.  I suppose I was being optimistic when I decided my house could hold no more and I left my aeoniums and a number of other succulents to risk their life in my unheated greenhouse. Mr weather called my bluff and ZAP, there goes a summer of propagating echeverias and aeoniums. I suppose having never had the audacity to see what these succulents could really withstand, I had to see it for my own eyes. Low and behold, my aeoniums were rock solid in the midst of the storm, a week later when everything thawed out, they were mere bags of water, slumped and melting.

When I made the call to store them in that questionably safe environment I left them on the dry side since late september, yet this was not enough.

Jades that I couldn’t find homes for, poor little guys didn’t even see it coming.

A little snow with your aeonium?
A little snow with your aeonium?

A well rooted aeonium from a friend, was looking great last week…. hum..

A silly mistake on this one, my mother plant, grown in the spring, totally frozen solid.
(Hopefully it’s roots are still alive and it sends up a baby when things melt…

On the bright side?

Both of my agaves, contrary to the cold and being frozen solid, seem to have survived. As well as many of the thicker leaved echeverias/succulents. The thinner the leaf the more damaged they appeared to be.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.
After the freeze had finished having it’s way with my garden ( damn you winter, you win this round) I naturally got my head out of rear and brought in some of the succulents that still showed signs of life. From there I put them on a heating pad, took off the death and dusted them with fungicide. So far nothing much has changed, but one can hope.

The rule of the day, don’t take chances with tender plants during cold winters, DUH! There’s always room for a couple more, somewhere, right? At the very least, give them away, instead of leaving them for the firing squad.

One last Sad tale from the frost.

My leonotis, which is new to my collection as of mid august, was also willingly left to chance fate to see if it could handle our winter.  I Don’t think mr leonotis appreciated the weather all too much, as it got hit pretty bad by the cold. A litle tug still shows some hope via the roots but only time will tell.

frozen with the rest of them
Photo taken nov 20th

Photo taken sept 09 *sigh*

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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