If House Horticult had a sigil, it would probably be a succulent. What kind of succulent? We’re not sure yet. And after last Saturday’s visit to Waterwise Botanicals, we’re no closer to making a decision!
We attended the more-than-a-nursery’s Fall Garden Party. (You might remember last year’s visit to the rambling Bonsall plant retailer/educator/destination!) Ryan and I crossed our arms and did a backward fall into a sea of drought-tolerant plants. These plants included fields of firesticks in blazing ombré, golden barrel cacti gleaming in the afternoon sunlight, inky Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop,’ towering euphorbia with punk-rock spikes, and a rare succulent that actually looks meadowy.
Talk about making an entrance. When we got to the party, this African ocotillo (Alluaudia procera) provided both good looks and bouncer-like attitude at the door.
Whole forests of Alluadia procera (African ocotillo) grow in Madagascar.
In fact, its spines evolved to collect moisture from the fog where it grows in Madagascar.
We gawked at this crop of Euphorbia ingens, native to arid regions of the southern African continent. Despite similarities between some species, euphorbias and cacti evolved independently of each other. (Also, euphorbias are globally distributed, while there are no cacti native to the Eastern Hemisphere.) A euphorbia like this one will be less sun-hungry than a cactus, so potentially easier to grow at home.
There were also presentations about plant arranging and plant care, and we learned a thing or two. For example, when you’re pruning your firesticks euphorbia, start from the bottom and work your way up to avoid getting dripped on by its toxic latex. And if you do get the sap on your skin, saturate it with WD-40, then remove with soap and water. (Detergent alone will only just spread the agonizing milk around.) We ate heavenly sliders with aged gouda from the Farm Girl food truck.
But mostly we fell even more in love with a category of plants we were already smitten with. So much beauty, and so apropos in this time of drought.
P.S. The aloe blossoms were ablaze! You have to see them. Below, check out our favorite moments from a day full of #succulove.
We’re not totally sure, but this might be an Agave bovicornuta. (Thanks, Reddit!)
Dwarf silver sheen cholla (Opuntia whipplei).
We attended a couple of talks during the day—about arranging “waterwise” plants and caring for them.
Susan Rojas demonstrates how to make a succulent arrangement.
One of Susan Rojas’s exuberant arrangements.
Susan also showed how to make inspired driftwood installations.
A bromeliad even made a cameo!
Today we fell in love with the thin bluish stems of Pedilanthus cymbifera (slipper plant), topped by coral inflorescences.
Echinocactus grusonii or golden barrel cactus as far as the eye could see.
It’s November, and the Aeonium are resting after a hot summer. It is normal for Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ to limp a bit in the late summer and fall.
(For comparison, here’s the same hill of Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ we photographed last spring.)
We dig the green to orange ombré on this Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Flame’ or firesticks! (Yes, my shirt is buttoned only once. I guess I’m trying something…clotheswise…)
This incline is thick with Aloe ciliaris ‘Firewall,’ which has the power to stop a blaze in its tracks.
Aloe ciliaris ‘Firewall’ is both heroic and lovely.
That chartreuse stripe is a mass of Portulacaria afra (aka elephant food, elephant bush, pork bush, spekboom and dwarf jade plant).
The elephant food succulent is found widely in South Africa. It can be grown as ground cover, upright as a tree, even as bonsai! Bright light and excellent drainage are key.
Making a statement: Agave americana variegata ‘Matsumoto’, or painted century plant.
An impressive spike on this Agave americana variegata ‘Matsumoto,’ street name painted century plant.
Aloe dawei, or orange flame aloe.
Waterwise Botanicals founder Tom Jesch demonstrates pruning technique with the firesticks, aka Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Flame.’ Pro tip: start from the bottom to avoid getting splotched by the toxic sap.
One of our favorite discoveries of the day: Pedilathus bracteatus ‘Tropic-Tillo.’ We love its tall, leafy look.
Pedilathus bracteatus ‘Tropic-Tillo.’
Farm Girl provided delicious lunches (we had sliders and dragonfruit juice) against a succulent backdrop.
Echeveria ‘Sahara’ was developed by Waterwise, which lauds this hybrid’s ability to prosper in the landscape. (Versus a container, which is usually the best place for an echeveria.)
Desert boots meet desert plants.
Chamaesereus sylvestri ‘Red Hot Chili Poker.’
What a blossom!
Euphorbia trigona, or good luck plant.
Lemaireoceresu thurberii or Arizona organ pipe cactus.
Cleistocactus strausii or silver torch.
…they almost look cuddly.
Ryan doing what he does…
Not sure about these ones. Agave attenuata?
Crassula argentea ‘Sunset.’ Yep, that’s an attractively golden jade.
Tom Carns played matchmaker between us and this delicate Pedilathus cymbifera, or mini lady’s slipper.
We had another quick end-of-the-day chat with Tom Jesch.
Pilosocereus azureus ‘Wooly Blue Spikes.’
Uhh, did we mentioned there are ROSES here too?
Rose ‘Perfume Delight’ had a damask scent that was out of this world.
Pink rose hybrid tea ‘Tiffany.’