Sunday, July 10, 2016

Desert Showtime

My conversion to desert gardening; cacti and succulents has been slow but I'm getting there! A week or so back, I went with Jim to the Cacti and Succulent Society Show that was being held at the Huntington Gardens. We really went for the sale but the show was good to look at and I was thrilled to get a young plant of one of the prize-winning cacti that I had admired.  The show was in two large rooms and was divided into numerous classes for individual genera  and even in some cases for variations on a genus.



When I used to judge at Chelsea and the other big UK flower shows, I used to be a bit critical of cactus growers who brought back the same old plants to each show and repeatedly won Gold medals. I think I now have a little more respect for their skill, not only as growers but for transporting such unfriendly plants without damage! Apologies that all the pictures don't have captions, I was rather remiss in getting the names of some!

I should know this but I've forgotten!

Just love these dark Echevarias but too hot in the desert for them!

Echeveria 'Barbillion' (I think!)


Conophyttum lithopsoides

Dyckia 'Tina Wallace'
Mamillaria geminispina?


Euphorbia pugniformis

Haworthia cymbiformis

Ledebouria sociates Variegata

After enjoying the show benches, we did shop and buy just a few new plants! I just love the chunky little Sansevieria pinguicula in the next  picture -  looks just like an agave, complete with vicious spines! Probably the most aggressive mother in law's tongue imaginable. Lots more for sale but we were both very restrained in our purchases.







Monday, July 4, 2016

No Regrets - well just a few!

I don't regret living in California where the sun shines almost constantly, although it does have its negative sides. This year has been exceptionally windy  and time after time my garden has been shredded. Fortunately plants grow back fast and most of the species in my yard like Bougainvillea and Tecoma are repeat flowering. A week or so back,  we had exceptional temperatures and whilst 100F is normal for this time of the year, 121 F (50C) was just too much and quite a few plants, amazingly including agaves, just fried in the heat! Last Saturday I went up to the Huntington Gardens, yet again, but this time for the Cactus Society show and sale and I'll post about this next time. 

Cactus Society Show

But these days in the Huntington are just sheer horticultural pleasure. The climate up in Pasadena is more moderate and the gardens feel and look more like a UK garden - there are lush green lawns, broad-leaved trees, roses and beds of flowers - dare I say it very British looking! So this got me thinking and I have to admit that I do miss many of the beautiful plants and gardens that I used to enjoy back in the UK. So this post is a sentimental, pictorial wallow in all that I miss whilst I am away from the UK. Enjoy my pictures of favorite plants and gardens back in the UK.



I particularly miss some of the lovely spring and early summer flowering plants. Whilst there are some plants that are seasonal here, many like bougainvillea look similar all the year round and of course with the warmth,  there is not the same winter dormancy followed by spring. I miss the lush greenness of spring plants and fresh summer color.


















And of course I regret not being able to go garden visiting. We do have an annual local gardens tour - just one day a year and so I miss all the many opportunities to visit gardens in the UK. Never underestimate the value of the National Gardens Scheme - its unique!












I've just been reading another blog about the Woburn garden show and seeing the pictures of a very wet muddy field and ardent gardeners shopping under umbrellas. I don't miss this weather, but the opportunities for plant fairs and specialist nurseries are very limited here.  A few plant fairs and garden shows without the rain and the mud would be great!






And of course I miss my own gardens back in the UK. There is my own tiny little garden in Nottingham, being lovingly cared for by a friend. And of course there are the University grounds. Whilst it is now nearly nine years since I left and two changes of management, I still feel a territorial pride, knowing that I created many of the landscapes and planted trees that are no longer saplings. I shall regret not visiting University Park this summer.




Sunday, June 19, 2016

Huntington again!

Another trip to the Huntington with nothing particular in mind except to see these beautiful gardens at another season. Visiting here really warms my soul, reminding me of the many years I spent in horticulture. Whilst I don't regret moving to Palm Springs, I do sometimes miss temperate horticulture and visiting gardens such as these, gives me a wonderful horticultural high! We went through the desert garden first and although there was interest as always, it wasn't as colorful as the last visit. The flowering Agaves are amazing - spikes towering to 20ft or more! Temperatures soared to 95F, so we went for fluid intake and an early lunch!


Echinocereus viereckii

Fouquieria diguetii








Notocactus warasii


Euphorbia millii cultivar


The afternoon didn't feel quite so searingly hot as we wandered through the shady woodland areas, Japanese and Chinese gardens, jungle and past the lily ponds. A lovely day in a beautiful garden, filled with fascinating plants!


The California garden
Anthocleista grandiflora



Rosa Ballerina