Monday, April 25, 2016

Cacti conversion!

After almost ignoring cacti and succulents for all my years of growing plants and gardens - over 50 dare I say -  I think I have finally been converted! A visit to the Huntington gardens this last weekend finally persuaded me that these are beautiful and fascinating plants!  I have been here several times and written about the desert garden on a couple of occasions but this time, it was just spectacular! So many beautiful cacti in bloom! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Echinopsis 'April Dawn'

Dyckia in flower

Echinopsis claviceps ritteri

Aloe camperi

Echinopsis 'Flying Saucers'

Echinopsis 'Red Rocket'
Sorry - missd the name of this one!

Echinopsis 'Spring Blush'
Hesperaloe 'Brakelights'

Notocactus claviceps

Aeonium arboreum - maybe 'Cyclops'  in flower

Puya berteroniana

Puya chilensis
X Echinobivia 'Peach Monarch'
Dolicothele longimamma
There were other parts of the garden looking splendid but we didn't get much time to see them. We were anxious to leave and avoid the Friday afternoon exodus from Los Angeles - didn't make it - return journey took three hours! Few pictures next time!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gardens Tour 2016

Last Sunday I parted with $15 for the Desert Horticultural Society's 11th Annual Desert Garden Tour. Credit must go to those garden owners, who allowed visitors to wander round their private gardens and examine their horticultural enterprise in detail. However can the DHS really only rustle up seven properties worth visiting in Palm Springs, once a year? Two of these were tiny patio gardens and two front gardens?  When I compare with the National Garden Scheme in the UK which has hundreds of gardens open each weekend in spring and summer, this is really rather underwhelming

The first location we visited was a commercial landscape around  a Community Project. We decided not to stop and as we were checking for the next location, Jim's car was side-swiped by another visitor who reversed into us without looking in his rear-view mirror - not a good start to the afternoon.  The next garden was newly completed and beautifully designed but just a front garden with a tiny enclosed patio.

The second garden that caught our attention had maturity and was obviously well cared for over some years.  Annoyingly the driver who had hit us had also arrived at this garden and pursued us apologising!

Now that's about it! However, whilst parking, I did spy a beautiful cactus in  a roadside garden that I believe to be Opuntia aciculata. I feel a painting coming on!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

San Diego Botanics revisited

I've just revisited San Diego Botanic garden and when I check last year's blog I find that  it is almost exactly a year since I last visited - anyway similar plants were in bloom! If you want to also read the first entry  click  here. These gardens are lovely; big enough to enjoy but not extensive and covering a huge ranges of styles and habitats from desert to rainforest, Mediterranean to African and Australian. Whilst adequately maintained they are also natural and not over 'primped', giving a charming sort of rogueish style. One little seating area we found, looked out over the garden beneath. At some point pots had been arranged around it but some had got knocked over and the plants were spilling out. My inclination was to tidy it but somehow it had its own rough charm as it was.

Inevitably it was the many plants that captured my attention not only for their horticultural value but also for their potential as future paintings! Just a few random shots to wet your appetite! If you do visit, be aware that there is no cafe and only the most rudimentary selection of refreshments. Take a packed lunch or plan your trip between meals!

Erythrina speciosa

Euphorbia ingens

Aloe - species ?

Clivia miniata
Clivia miniata Aurea
Clivia nobilis

Bauhinia purpurea?

Solandra maxima

Ferocactus glaucescens

Monday, February 29, 2016


A year ago I bought an ocotillo. I planted it one day while Philip was at work and was delighted that he approved not only the purchase but the positioning of it. He has since commented that it's his favorite plant in the yard, despite looking like a bundle of dead sticks. It is not on the irrigation system but just gets a weekly watering. Anyway, after nearly a year of waiting, our plant has suddenly come into leaf.

Here in the desert ocotillos are frequently used in landscape schemes. In garden centers they are often displayed bare root and looking totally desiccated but amazingly seem to grow. When planted, the securing wires are often left on which is annoying as the plant is never allowed to spread and grow naturally. Philip and I have been known to trespass and cut them free!

Our ocotillo

the leaves appeared in a few days

Bundled up in a garden center

This is a desert plant, but to more temperate eyes, looking a little like a deciduous berberis with straggly stems and thorns. Its correct name is Fouquieria splendens. It sometimes goes by other common names such as coachwhip, candlewood, slimwood, desert coral, Jacob's staff or Jacob's cactus. It is naturally found in the Sonoran Desert,  the Chihuahuan Desert, southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

Mature ocotillo

Ocotillo is not a true cactus. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are still alive. With rainfall, the plant quickly becomes lush with small green leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months. Flowering is spasmodic but colorful with bright red flowers that are pollinated by
hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.

Flowering ocotillo