Aloe ciliaris “Firewall” is a really good choice for planting as a firewall on the dry California hillsides that are subject to the fires, like right here in Berkeley and in the Oakland hills.
Vertical stems to 3 feet tall, spreads wide. Orange flowers in late winter. “This plant can be used effectively on slopes, and provides a great barrier against fires when planted in wide enough swaths because of the tremendous amount of moisture stored in its leaves.”
Agave parryi v. truncata is one of the classic parryis, even if not the one true classic. But it is the prettiest of the parryis when smaller. This has really nice form even right now. Just imagine when it gets 3 feet across – oh that’s nice!
The rosiest of the yarrows is the Rose Yarrow. So it would seem it has been correctly named, after all! But the common name and the cultivar name don’t match? What’s up with that? It turns out that Cerise (244, 0, 161) is just another name for Rose (255, 0, 127) in the color-wheel of plants.
How dwarf? 18″ dwarfed. Sweet! Those bright red marginal spines look like horns. Goat horns. But really those are 2 different leaves with their end spines pointing out and I took the picture at just such an angle to cause it to seem like these Agaves have Goat Horns.
These Crown of Thorn spurges come in quite a range of colors. This one is Yellow.
Euphorbia milii “Dwarf Yellow”
We have a lot of new vigorous growth right now since we have had a very mild winter. It’s sunny and warm most days. There’s been no cloudy rainy days at all. It’s like an early spring! And the plants are going nutso for the sunshine. Maybe they’ll be caught in mid growth if winter ever does come and then that would be a bad thing for the plants. They could get damaged.
And just for the fun of it, a Salmon colored one too!
Normally the California Native Lewisia cotyledons bloom in spring and summer, but we do always have a few that will bloom at other times of the year, like now.
In fact, we find that as these plants mature they can bloom up to 6 times per year! That’s a lot of blooms. You just have to dead-head them to prevent them from going to seed in case they were pollinated. If they go to seed then they are done blooming for the year.
Bonus picture of an Owl after the break… Read More…
All the brightly colored Christmas Cactus are out, and not a day too soon.
These are all hybrids from Brazilian species. Nobody knows anymore what the original species from the jungles were, but we like to think they are hybridized from Schlumbergera orsicchiana, which tend to be pendant and epiphytic.
All those green segments that look like leaves are really stem segments, and the cactus spines, as these are true cacti, come from the joints between the segments. The segmenting of the stems makes for easy cuttings.
Some would call these hybrids something along the lines of Schlumbergera orssichiana x truncata, but the truncata part of that was long ago gathered into Zygocactus, but then put back into Schlumbergera in 1967. So if you see these advertised as Zygocactus you should know that they are archaically sticking to the early 60s. Old people today.
Here are two very nice Parodias. Parodias are known for their yellow flowers, although not all Parodias have yellow flowers, but there is a yellow color known as Parodia Yellow so you can imagine that they are well-known for their yellow flowers.
Many people will argue over the shear number of Parodia species, even though many or most are really subspecies of only about 65 species.
Native to the South American Highlands. And Lowlands too.
First up is Parodia mueller-melchersii ssp gutierrezii, one of those cacti that have been wrongly categorized as separate species over the years, more recently known as Notocactus gutierrezii, a name that some cactus growers cling to out of tradition or anger or for the shear spectacle. Native to the Rio Grande do Sul in Brasil.
Next is the very attractive and slightly more common Parodia nigrispina, originally in the 19th century assumed to be part of the Echinocactus genus, but that’s ridiculous. These hail from the fine country of Paraguay, which I believe is in South America.
Kind of a very vibrant red against a sky blue backdrop, if you choose to photograph it that way, which I did because this particular Paws has very tall bloom stalks so it is hard to photograph it against the foliage way down below. Instead shooting up towards the sky works well.
We have a few larger specimens of the white-spined version of the classic golden barrel. We call it Echinocactus grusonii “White Ghost”. Some prefer to call it c.v. alba or even v. albispinus! Those people are ridiculous.
The golden-spined species is probably the most commonly propagated species of all time. But did you know that its native habitat in Queretaro, Mexico has been nearly eliminated by the construction of a dam?
Agave shawii is a coastal California native, Southern Cal. and Baja, but still coastal so you know it will do well in Berkeley and nearby. While the rosettes will get 2 to 3 feet across, taller than wide, they will also form large clusters so the agave can take over an area easily 10 feet across if you let it. And with those gorgeous red spines on the new leaves glowing in the California sunshine why wouldn’t you let it? Once they’ve formed a large enough cluster it would be difficult to remove, so make sure you have it in a place you want it.
Full sun at the coast, it could do with afternoon shade further inland.
Should not bloom until 15 to 20 years old, and then the bloom stalk could be particularly impressive for such a smaller species – up to 40 feet tall? Harsh!
Whitesloanea crassa is a rare and unusual succulent in the Stapeliad Family (Actually the Dogbane Family Apocynaceae or the Milkweeds Family Asclepiadaceae, depending on who you ask.)
And then that cute little flower bud opened up and we had a beautiful and vibrant and hairy flower.
They come from the hills of Somalia where they grow with just a little bit of sun and in very gritty soil with very little water. That’s exactly what I would have guessed! We tend to reduce the water in the winter down alm,ost to nothing, but not quite. In summer I keep it in a hot window and water with half as much as my other succulents, but once per week.
Join me after the break to see what a branching Whitesloanea looks like. Read More…
Single stemmed to 12ft., solitary rosette with marginal spines. Hardy to 25F.
The common name in South Africa for this lovely tree aloe is Uitenhagse-aalwyn. The bloom stalks on top of these 10-12ft. trees will get an additional 8 feet taller. Impressive! They’re found in a small part of the Gamtoos River Valley east to Port Alfred, particularly the Uitenhage District, hence the common name. Lowland, it grows coastally.
The Gamtoos River Valley is… so peaceful, so serene, so close to nature, its hard to believe that Port Elizabeth`s Green Acres Shopping Centre is only 55km away!
Asclepias fascicularis is my favorite California Native Milkweed this year. I don’t know how I’ll feel next year since there are so many beautiful milkweeds in the world and a few of them are California’s own. Check back!