11 Jun You Had Me at ‘Aloe’: Notes From the Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals
Last weekend we attended the second annual Succulent Celebration hosted by Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA. A grower, nursery, and all around bewitching place to spend an afternoon, Waterwise Botanicals specializes in legions of perennials, cacti, roses, and native, unusual and drought-tolerant shrubs and trees.
And of course, our most fleshed-out friends: succulents!
Opened in 2010, Waterwise Botanicals extends over 20 acres in Escondido, CA, and is a utopia of ponds, paths and diverse plants.
Isn’t that purply Opuntia chlorotica ‘Pinta Rita’ a doll in front of the agave?
New succulents introduced at the 2014 Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals: Echeveria harmsii ‘Ruby Slippers’ Plush Plant (left), Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras’ (top right) and Echeveria imbricata variegata (bottom right).
The Succulent Celebration brought hort lovers together with industry “movers and shakers” (as described by the charming Tom Jesch, who founded Waterwise with his wife Jackie), experts who served as speakers and vendors. Presentation topics included: “The Creation of Succulent Art” by Peter Loyola, creator of the showstopping Succulent Café; “Succulent Bonsai” with Tom; “Perfect Succulents for Containers” with garden photojournalist/legend Debra Lee Baldwin; and “Succulents Escaping Boundaries” with Robin Stockwell, owner of Succulent Gardens and the man Sunset Magazine crowned “King of Succulents.”
Alas, we were off the ball last week and weren’t able to catch most of these talks — so we’re already keenly looking forward to next year.
It’s a (succulent) celebration!
Garden Design magazine celebrated its relaunch with its initials planted and designed by Robyn Foreman.
But we did wander a large slice of the property’s 20-plus acres, and buzzed around the booths. We saw more beautiful Pacific Northwest driftwood than you can shake a stick at, some of which was implanted with sassy succulent arrangements, we fell in love with the latest issue of the newly relaunched Garden Design magazine, we learned about nifty aloe hybrid that that stops wildfires cold. Not to mention the oceans of aeonium we navigated while drinking old-school cream soda from a food truck. Needless to say, this was a most successful Saturday.
And of course we brought home some plump new succulents for our garden. Hoarding-wise, we think we might be the past the point of no return…
Check out the memorable moments from the day below!
Cars lined up along Old Highway 395 outside Waterwise.
…as did some agaves at the entrance!
Sproinging with sedums, crassula and moonstones, a succulent wall welcomed guests. It was designed by Waterwise co-founder/owner Tom Jesch.
Succulent bathtub designed by Susan Rojas.
Amid onlookers, John Alesi painted the garden in acrylic.
Before heading into the tents, we obtained from one of the event’s food trucks a cream soda by Dr. Brown’s (est. 1869).
Chatting about landscaping with aloes, euphorbias, echeverias, crassula and other succulents: Tom Jesch (left), co-founder Waterwise Botanicals, and Robin Stockwell (right) of Succulent Gardens, located in Northern California’s Castroville.
Interesting takeaways included planting tips for wildfire-resistant landscapes. You know those chunky and invasive ice plants by the highway? Contrary to one of its intended functions, Delosperma can continue to smolder, harboring potential blazes.
Instead, Tom recommends Aloe ciliaris ‘Firewall,’ previously only available to the trade. Trial by blowtorch (!) made the plant only steam slightly. To an advancing fire, a whole hillside of this aloe would be “like hitting a wall of sponges,” Tom said. It’s now available to consumers!
Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens.
The slope, with succulents planted en masse, provided a dreamy backdrop to the presentations.
Ay, ay, ay, Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop.’
Euphorbia, ‘Amak Green’, also known as African candelabra.
Bringing the vertical interest is this Pedilanthus bracteatus ‘Tropic-tillo.’ Think of it like a thornless ocotillo!
Golden barrel cactus as far as the eye can see.
Blazing today are the sticks on fire plant (Euphorbia tirucalli), left. On the right are aeoniums.
Succulent celebrants carted their hauls in wagons.
I guess aloe just makes me ecstatic.
As cultivators of the classic green variety, we were dazzled by this Crassula argentea ‘Sunset,’ or sunset jade.
Sunset jade is a slower grower than regular green jade, and prefers full sun.
Agave a go-go.
Wood is sourced from the Pacific Northwest, and planted with (you guessed it!) succulents. We adore the eruption of colors in this arrangement.
More charming arrangements by Seafoam Driftwood.
This door, designed by Peter Loyola of Succulent Cafe, runneth over.
Plants here include aeonium, echeveria, sempervivum and crassula.
We also saw our friends from the just-relaunched Garden Design magazine. With our subscription we got a copy of the latest issue, a tome full of tours, tips and breathtaking plant/design photography. (A more in-depth post about this to come.) From left: editor-in-chief Thad Orr, publisher Jim Peterson, social media director Dayna Springfield and contributing editor Khara Dizmon.
From a miniature sea of sedums, lithops, sempervivums and aloe, we stalked some new additions to our yard.
Ryan snags a ‘Firewall’ aloe (left) and an Aloe ‘Forlirpa’ (right).
Our haul. In addition to the aloe, we picked up a medusa head euphorbia (dig the yellow blooms on ‘er!) and stone-like lithops and Pleiospilos nelii, known also as a split-rock plant.
Drive through Escondido without stopping by Stone Brewing? Crazy-talk! We filled up our growlers with a saison and the Belgian-style Quadro Triticale. Both delicious. ROAR.
Our new split-rock and lithops will soon be planted in Ryan’s table.
Aloes, welcome to your hammock habitat.