the many and varied forms of Echeveria agavoides

‘Lipstick,’ ‘Red Edge,’ ‘Maria,’ ‘Romeo’ — browsing nurseries and plant sales I’ve come across lots of named forms of this most agave-like of echeverias. This page from the World of Succulents has descriptions and photos of these varieties and many more. I’ve yet to hear anyone use the common names Molded Wax or Molded Wax Agave, but I have to admit the names are fitting.



Some forms are quick multipliers, sometimes annoyingly so, while the most sought after (‘Ebony’) are stubborn singletons and therefore very pricy. In pots I have a ‘Red Edge’ and a cross with colorata named ‘Mexican Giant,’ which is nothing near as robust as its name suggests and has required serious coddling to keep alive.

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An ‘Ebony’ with pups, CSSA Inter-City show August 2015.


As good in landscapes as in containers, Echeveria agavoides var. prolifera shown here at the Huntington with dyckia and barrel cactus.

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Blooming in my garden March 2016, I’ve had some reseeding too. (The butterfly agave on the right has since bloomed and survives only by a single pup.)


In my garden April 2011. Native to rocky outcroppings in several states of Mexico, it flourishes in my garden’s amended clay. Those in the ground are unnamed, fast-pupping, passalong plants.

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In a local garden, brushed by a restio, it anchors a column by brimming over in a shallow bowl.

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But also plays well with other succulents.

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The perfect rosette can be a fleeting effect.

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Crowded with pups is more the usual.

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And the unattainable ‘Ebony’ again, coveted and often quickly bought out by foreign collectors. At this point, I’d be happy to find ‘Maria.’

Posted in pots and containers, succulents | 5 Comments

thursday clippings 11/8/18

Some pretty pictures for Thursday.

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The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, closed since 2014 to address leaks of up to 5,000 gallons of water a day, is open for business again. But if you want to make some waves in this pool, it’ll cost you. You can talk to these folks about arranging a swim.

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When I saw these photos, I had to rewatch Citizen Kane again. And reread Pauline Kael’s Raising Kane — Orson Welle’s film legacy was in dire need of resuscitation after the Olympian lightning bolts and obstacles Hearst threw at the film on its release in 1941, when Hearst was 78 and Welles just 25. When you control the newspapers, it’s fairly easy to limit a film’s reach and a director’s career.

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The Central Coast is a gorgeous destination for an autumn road trip. Viewing the Pacific Ocean from Julia Morgan’s neo-Spanish cathedral is an indelible sight.

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The density of antiquities, mosaics, carpets, statuary overloads the brain like a drug. And for pondering power, dynastic wealth, the futility of attempts to quash criticism and dissent, there’s nothing else like a visit to this California State Park. Despite Hearst’s iron-fisted attempts to control the narrative, ironically, he will now forever be enshrined with Welles at San Simeon.

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And whatever Hearst thought of the film, its themes are as timeless as the caryotids and just as relevant today.

photos by MB Maher

Posted in clippings, garden travel, MB Maher | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

garden journal 11/3/18

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The salvia order from Flowers by the Sea arrived early in the week in exceptional condition and has been potted up. Included in the order were the two above, Salvia discolor ‘Purple Bracts’ in the foreground, Salvia patens ‘Guanajuato’ in the back, as well as the hybrid ‘Raspberry Truffle’ and S. gesneriiflora ‘Tequila.’ Because every one of them is a big bruiser in the ground (aside from S. discolor), they will all be grown in containers, eventually much larger than these, and will be cut back hard in early spring, shuffled to the back wall during summer, root-pruned if necessary, kept watered, fed, and pinched until fall, when they will be brought out again ablaze in blue, purple, and magenta trumpets. That’s the plan anyway. Autumn plans are so much easier than summer implementation. It’s been so long since I’ve grown the big salvias from Mexico that I forget the reasons I stopped growing them — hence the journal entry — apart from their oversize dimensions and keeping them irrigated in the garden all summer until fall bloom. Growing them in containers is the new strategy.

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Salvia gesneriiflora ‘Tequila,’ leaves still wrinkled from transport.

The salvia infatuation ebbs and flows but never entirely goes away. This nostalgic episode was triggered by finding a beautiful 3-foot specimen of Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ grown by Native Sons at a local nursery and me realizing it’s time again to take advantage of one of the singular perks of having a garden in Southern California, e.g., winter-blooming salvias. Plus, no doubt it’s a form of garden comfort food for me. Plus, at the moment I can use a good distraction.

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All of these are reputed to bloom fall/winter here in zone 10. Slipping containers in amongst the dry garden shrubs and succulents or on the patio seems for now to be the best use of resources rather than attempting to give the entire garden the water the salvias need. Watching the hummingbirds’ crush on the salvias, the slanting autumn light outlining halos on everything it brushes — I love everything about this spin of the axis.

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But it’s not all sunshine and dreamy light. The damage that the dry, hot Santa Ana winds can do should never be underestimated. Which is what I did when I left the bitter cassava exposed to the Santa Ana’s full blast. I felt like an absolute idiot, but I noted when I next visited the nursery again that their stock looked denuded exactly like mine.

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Another small-garden hack. The same thinking is behind sinking this pot of watsonia in the ground. An unknown peachy-flowered species brought home from a Strybing sale, it makes a big clump of enormous leaves. After spring bloom the pot will be lifted and something else will take its place. Or not. Lots of mulch was made from garden clippings ground up in the shredder, and it’s been applied liberally to open areas and paths. I love freshly laid mulch. And so do the raccoons, who visited this area immediately after mulch was laid down looking for grubs, breaking quite a few branches of that coastal woolybush. I know instantly upon opening the back door in the morning whether the garden received night visitors, because the cat’s water bowl will be muddy and need rinsing.

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None of the budding aloe bloom stalks were broken, thank heavens. These are Aloe scobinifolia.

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Perhaps the aloe blooms are somewhat protected from trampling and breakage by this whirling dervish of an aloe hybrid, possibly a ferox cross. It’s developing a trunk and will eventually rise up over the plantings, no longer crossing swords with other plants and generally getting in everyone’s grille. It will be a lovely, tall, twisting dervish then. That is, if it manages to avoid an attack by the dreaded aloe mite.

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There’s no honest discussion of growing aloes in Southern California without including mention of their arch nemesis, the villain Aceria aloinis aka aloe mite. The tree aloe ‘Goliath’ is still in treatment, recovery uncertain, and today I opted to remove a big Aloe cameronii after noting the distinctive thickening and micro-ruffling of leaf edges near the center, the arrival of which seemed to coincide with the cooler nights. Some growers refer to it as aloe cancer. The disfiguring galls build up to conceal and protect the nefarious activities of the mites. Because of my habitual overplanting, Aloe cameronii’s absence is barely perceptible, but just a few hours earlier it was arising out of that clump of sesleria to the left of Agave ‘Dragon Toes.’ Aloe elgonica behind the agave appears to be uninfected for now. Perhaps it’s resistant.

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Aloe cameronii February 2016

Luckily I have a clean, yellow-flowering Aloe cameronii in the garden elsewhere as consolation. Most heartbreaking of all was the attack on the marlothii x peglerae hybrid, one of the most beautiful plants I’ve grown. I opted to try to save it, taking off most of its disfigured leaves.

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I’ve had a couple aloes respond to this treatment of taking off the affected leaves and dosing the wounds with rubbing alcohol. I’m reading that along with unknowingly bringing in infected plants, ants spread the mites around, and if that’s the case the situation is pretty much hopeless. Unless I want to grow aloes in containers…

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And I really don’t, because there are already so many containers. My one pot of nerines is throwing three bloom stalks. Summer-dry bulbs from South Africa, they’re a good fit for LA.

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They were initially planted in the front gravel garden, but I’ve noted the bulbs fatten up faster for best bloom in container conditions.

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The cooler nights are bringing out some ruddy color again on Agave geminiflora, which is kept in a container so it rises above surrounding plants.

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The stock tank winter vegetable garden was planted this week, the first purposeful use made of this tank I’ve had a few years. All summer it held odds and ends of cuttings along with summer-stressed aeoniums and other bits of succulents. Basically it became the garden’s junk drawer. Two kinds of broccolini were planted, side-shooting broccolis that don’t form a big central head and that can be picked over a longer period of time. And I’ll probably interplant radishes amongst them, French breakfast and watermelon radishes. Getting the tank up on this old wrought iron table base exposes the plants to more sun throughout the day.

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One of the stock tank’s temporary residents moved to make room for vegetables was an Agave ‘Kara’s Stripes’ pup that grew to quite a massive size. More and more agaves are migrating to the area under the fernleaf acacia, since they don’t mind the root competition and dry soil. A couple of ‘Joe Hoaks’ are being protected by those baskets from lounging felines and/or digging raccoons and possums.

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The Miscanthus nepalensis that I mailed home from England’s Great Dixter Plant Fair last fall is proving to be well worth the trouble.

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An odd ivy lookalike I found while running to the nursery for potting soil, Senecio macroglossus.

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Passiflora ‘Flying V’ is waking up after a looong summer snooze.

Time to put the journal down — enjoy your weekend!

Posted in edibles, journal, pots and containers, succulents | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments


True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

The Tell-Tale Heart narrated by Christopher Lee

(The master of mystery’s final days were as horrifying as anything he ever wrote: found wandering lost in delirium in Baltimore, when his true destination had been Philadelphia, garbed in another man’s shabby clothes, savagely beaten…incoherent and tormented by hallucinations the last four days of his life. Now there’s a short story begging to be written — and illustrated! — the deathbed hallucinations of Edgar Allan Poe!)

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Happy Halloween!

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wednesday clippings 10/24/18

I’ve been having incompatibility issues lately — with hardware, operating systems, cameras, the relentlessly awful news, you name it.

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But please do carry on! It’s been a lovely autumn so far. I’ll be back when the technical stuff gets sorted out.

Posted in clippings | 4 Comments

WestEdge Design Fair 2018

What: WestEdge Design Fair October 19-21, 2018.
(Sunday is the last day!)

Where: The Barker Hangar
3021 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

When: For general admission, October 19-21, 2018.
(Sunday hours 10-5 p.m.)
order tickets here

In the spirit of short notice is better than no notice at all, today, Sunday October 21, is the last day of this very lively design show held in the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport. I’d never attended this six-year old design fair, which is geared toward industry professionals, but I noted that Bend furniture would be there this year, and the Air Plant Man (tillandsias), so we stopped in on Friday. It’s definitely worth a look, and today is your last opportunity for 2018. I’ll be marking my calendar for a return visit next year and plan to make time for more of the panel discussions. And visiting the repurposed air hangar is a treat in itself. In between discussing the price of floor models (yes, he bought a couple), Mitch ended up with quite a few photos.

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Have a great Sunday!

photos by MB Maher

Posted in artists, design, MB Maher | Tagged | 1 Comment

Natural Discourse 2019 Preview Conversation 10/19/18

Where: Wind Tunnel Gallery
Art Center College of Design
950 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena

When: Friday, October 19, 2018
5 to 7 p.m.
free but reservations encouraged

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The winter aloe bloom season is coming, always a compelling reason to visit the LA Arboretum in winter. The return of other equally exciting events at the LA Arboretum in 2019 include Natural Discourse’s Digital Nature February 27 through March 3, 2019.

In anticipation of the 2019 return of Natural Discourse to the LA Arboretum, a Preview Conversation will be held this Friday, October 19, 2018, 5-7 p.m. (free but reservations are encouraged, here).

This Preview Conversation will be held at:

Wind Tunnel Gallery
at Art Center College of Design
950 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena

The speakers on Friday, October 19, 2018, at the Wind Tunnel Gallery in Pasadena include:

John Carpenter is an interactive digital artist and designer whose work explores the use of gesture with complex data and spaces. Based in Los Angeles, he works for Oblong Industries as an interaction designer and is a visiting professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, MA+P. John earned his MFA from the department of Design Media Arts at UCLA (thesis: qualitative spaces in interactive art + design, 2009) and has recently exhibited work at INHORGENTA MUNICH, the LA Arboretum, the Murmuration Festival, Young Projects, ACME. Los Angeles, and the Academy Awards.

Richard Schulhof, CEO of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden and a native of Los Angeles, has a strong commitment to public education and serving urban communities. Schulhof was deputy director of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum in Boston, executive director of Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. He completed horticultural internships at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino and the Mildred Mathias Gardens at UCLA. Schulhof has an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture from U.C. Berkeley and masters degrees in public garden administration from the University of Delaware and in forestry from Harvard.

Shirley Alexandra Watts is curator of the ongoing project Natural Discourse, a series of symposia, publications and site-specific art installations that explore the connections between art, science and the humanities within the framework of botanical gardens and natural history museums. Natural Discourse began with an exhibit of site-specific installations on view at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in 2012. Shirley has organized six daylong symposia at the Berkeley Botanical Garden, the LA Arboretum, the LA Natural History Museum and the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. In fall 2016 she curated the exhibit Digital Nature at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden. With support from the NEA, Digital Nature 2019 will take place at the LA Arboretum February 27 to March 3, 2019.”

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lagerstroemia by John Carpenter and Justin Shrake, Digital Nature 2016

The Preview Conversation will touch on some of my favorite topics, “art, science, trees and the upcoming exhibit Digital Nature 2019 at the LA Arboretum February 27 through March 3.”

You can read up on past Natural Discourse events at these links here.

images by MB Maher

Posted in artists, clippings, design, MB Maher, science | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

garden notes 10/14/18

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Bitter Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata,’ waylaid me at the local nursery Friday while stocking up on potting soil. Just try walking by this. Not possible.

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Manihot grahamii, the hardy tapioca, always drops its leaves mid-winter, while the Bitter Cassava is reputed to be evergreen, so now I get to compare the two.

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There was a rumor of rain, so early Friday morning I immediately grabbed the hose and slow-soaked the lemon cypresses against the east fence. Because fool me once, shame on you, weather people. Fool me twice…but if anything, I think the good weather people underestimated this rainstorm and lightning show. Water was at last uniformly delivered to the entire garden, something I do a poor approximation of for seven or more months. I think the slipper plant, Pedilanthus bracteatus, shot up another foot in one day.

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Unlike the last no-show, I was determined to play it extremely casual about this forecast, so didn’t pull any of the plants under the pergola out for a rain bath. I’m not sure why these coleus are doing so well, when through bitter experience I’d become convinced coleus hated life with me. It may be these are exceptionally easy-going varieties, ‘Henna’ and ‘Inferno,’ or the large, shallow container provides better drainage, or it also might have to do with the creeping humidity overtaking our summer weather. If the Santa Ana winds do make an appearance this week, these will most likely be their last portraits for 2018. But I’ll be grabbing some cuttings.

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Coleus (Solenostemon) ‘Henna’

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Plectranthus argentatus is filling out again after looking a little pinched in late summer.

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The xanthosoma got a good soak, its pot situated just clear of the pergola. The red spike is from a pokeweed, Phytollaca icosandra, that’s been poking along all summer, finally in a bit of a growth spurt. I’ve found a seedling that I may try in the garden next summer instead of a container. The patterned leaves climbing the silver spoon/kalanchoe are from Aristolochia fimbriata. Photo taken from the garden side of the pergola.

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And photo taken from the house side of the pergola. The mesmerizing sound of rain on the corrugated pergola roof kept us outdoors even after dark, munching on chips and salsa and counting off the thunder after every flash of lightning. Rain party!

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I wasn’t sure about full sun for the new kid on the block, Hamelia patens, the Firebush (Lime Sizzler™) so it’s been planted in dappled to full sun most of the day.

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The plants under the fernleaf acacia are temporarily all washed clean of that fine white powder that the tree exudes late summer. The Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Red’ took a break from flowering most of the summer.

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Like kids all cleaned up, you just have to take their portrait: Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’

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The Coastal Woolybush, Adenanthos sericeus, has developed a nice upright habit to over 6 feet. (I finally did pull Salvia ‘Desperado’ which was crowding it and not particularly happy with its location anyway. This native hybrid salvia was talked up at the recent APLD Plant Fair as a very special plant for big, sunny gardens.)

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Fall-planted from 4-inch pots, Kniphofia thomsonii unexpectedly exploded into bloom. It’s a wonderful performance, but I’m worried it might be their swan song. I haven’t had much luck with these in the past, but it may have been due to overcrowding, so these have been given lots of air and light at their base. Since they’re known as the Alpine Poker, the sea level elevation may be an issue, but Annie’s Annuals has them zoned for 6-10.

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I never thought I’d grow lantana in the garden, that parkway/hellstrip queen, but the variegated form ‘Samantha’ has won me over. And they’re fabulous pollinator plants too.

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Eremophila glabra has been pinched back all summer and would seemingly make a nice small hedge. I bet it could even be formed into orbs, it’s that obliging.

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Crassula ‘Jitters’ attracted a lot of attention on the recent Mediterranean Garden Society tour of gardens in Newport Beach. I haven’t been paying mine much attention, which hasn’t stopped it from quietly growing into this nice dome shape.

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I’m rooting some stapelia cuttings from Dustin around the rim of a large potted cussonia, and surprisingly they still formed these dark, dark blooms. I think this must be Stapelia leendertziae, the Black Bells.

What a nice rainy weekend it’s been here! Hope yours has been enjoyable as well.

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OMIOMI’s chromaphilia in blue

Mitch’s photowork often provides me a window on some unique, one-off collaborative events, especially in the food world, where energy and creativity continue to bubble along at a full boil. Case in point: Omiomi recently held a “dream food conceptual dinner series” in Oakland, California, in collaboration with Sophia Lorenzi’s Hoste Productions, for IDEO, the global design company, “with color as a guide for memory and emotion, experienced through a blind tasting and shared meal.” The lavish emphasis on color was a chromaphiliac’s dream. With the big, tradition-laden holiday meals coming up, it seems an appropriate time to share the work of people who think hard about food 365 days a year.

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When I first saw the photos, they delivered a small shock of the new, yet there was a lot that was familiar too: the sensual emphasis on the forms and colors of plants, the simultaneous sense of abundance and control, the tension between nature and artifice.

Continue reading

Posted in artists, edibles, MB Maher, pop-up | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

APLD + Arboretum Plant Fair 2018

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Leave it to the landscape designers to build one of the best plant fairs I’ve attended — relaxed, convivial, informative, great flow, pacing, and easy accessibility to the plant vendors, multiple ongoing activities seamlessly integrated — all qualities found in a good garden designer’s tool kit, right? So it only makes sense. Offering CEU credits for APLD members, and with the fall/winter planting season ahead, the plant fair couldn’t have been better timed.

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One of the main organizers, president of the Los Angeles chapter of APLD, Johanna Woollcott, chatting with Tim Fross of Native Sons, Chondropetalum tectorum ‘El Campo’ in hand, a compact selection of this restio.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers held their first plant fair at the Los Angeles Arboretum on September 29th, and judging by its success I’m convinced (and dearly hoping!) it won’t be their last. Doors opened at the arboretum’s Ayres Hall at 9:30 a.m., with coffee and continental breakfast laid out among tables bursting with gorgeous plants. Not a bad way to start a Saturday! Cup of coffee in hand, there was a good 30-40 minutes to stroll among the plant vendors before the program started, to check out the plants and ask questions of some of the most knowledgeable nursery people you’ll ever hope to meet. (I found out early that if you especially admired a particular plant on a table, like I did silvery Halimium atriplicifolium from Native Sons, they tagged it with your name to take home, a slightly disorienting but undeniably auspicious beginning to any plant fair. And this was before the multiple raffles…)

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Finding this beauty at Native Sons’ table, I mentioned it looked like a saltbush, which is when I was informed its name did derive from atriplex, Halimium atriplicifolium, which means “like a saltbush.” The Yellow Rockrose is kind of the mediterranean equivalent of our Island Bush Poppy, the dendromecons. I had momentary doubts of finding a spot in the garden for a big, 3-gallon sun lover, but as usual I managed to squeeze it in…

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I also brought home a dwarf Banksia ashbyi from Australian Native Plants that Jo said is not overly sensitive to our alkaline soil, and the Mexican Soft Muhly, Muhlenbegia pubescens, from Native Sons.

The tables were filled with stunning plants, many of them never before seen and headed for release in 2019 or beyond. Around 10:30ish, after opening remarks by APLD president for the Greater Los Angles District, Johanna Woollcott, the formal program began, wherein each nursery person intermittently peeled away from their table throughout the day to head to the stage to present four plants. (Having attended a rather famous plant fair in England last fall, during which I never did find the location of the talks, this arrangement was a breeze to navigate, being all under one roof.) Within this briskly paced format, a large number of plants were discussed and yet the day flew by, with Johanna keeping a light hand on the timer for any extended questions from the attendees. If you preferred to hang out at the plant tables, chat with friends, or wander out into the arboretum during the presentations, that was fine too. The day was inspiring, educational, restorative and even reassuring in the sense of witnessing so much horticultural talent devoted to producing the best plants to meet the complex, evolving challenges of Southern California landscapes. The LA Chapter of the APLD really hit it out of the park and created the perfect plant fair “ecosystem.” There were lighting and ceramic vendors, including Annette Gutierrez and Becky Bourdeau representing for Potted, but here I’m going to touch on some of the plants discussed.

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Wendy Proud from Mountain States (on the left) brought three hesperaloe to present, H. parviflora ‘Desert Flamenco,’ ‘Desert Dusk,’ and ‘Sandia Glow.’ The hesperaloe is a particular favorite of Mountain States president Ron Gass and is considered one of their “legacy” plants, with many, many years devoted to breeding the best selections. I took my photos late in the day, so all the hesperaloe had already either been sold or given away, as the empty table behind Wendy reflects.

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All plant photos were provided by the individual vendors unless otherwise noted.

Like all the hesperaloes Wendy discussed, ‘Desert Flamenco’ is propagated by tissue culture, resulting in uniform growth and prolific bloom. DF is an especially heavy bloomer and “displays loads of side branching on the flower spikes creating waterfalls of showy, tubular, pinkish-orange flowers. It produces very little seed which allows for an extended bloom time from spring all the way through the fall.” It’s a clean grower with blue-grey leaves, 2X2 with 4-foot flowers. ‘Desert Dusk’ flowers have an unusual purply overlay, with very straight flower spikes that don’t splay outward, so it’s perfect for tighter spaces. Semi-dwarf ‘Sandia Glow’ is a juicy watermelon red, larger than ‘Brakelights,’ with bright green leaves, to 2X3. Mountain States will be celebrating their 50th anniversary and is launching a new website this year.

Matthew Romsa of Bamboo Pipeline discussed the elegant Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light,’ along with Duranta repens ‘Sapphire Showers,’ Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt,’ and Cordyline ‘Salsa.’

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Some really exciting innovations are now coming rapid-fire in dry garden ground covers and turf replacements. Robert Sjoquist of Delta Bluegrass presented Kurapia®, a sterile form of vigorous California native Lippia nodiflora that is said to be the least thirsty, greenest GC you can plant. Mr. Sjoquist says it receives water every three months in Camarillo, Calif, and can tolerate light to moderate foot traffic. There has been a large installation of Kurapia® at the San Bernardino County Courthouse, and it is already widely used in the Middle East, so those are some impressive credentials. He also discussed Delta Grassland Mix™, No Mow Free™, Native Bentgrass™, and Native Preservation Mix™.

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Randy Baldwin of San Marcos Growers chatting with a group including Nicholas Staddon of Village Nurseries.

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Randy Baldwin of San Marcos Growers selected one of the new Hans Hansen mangaves, ‘Mayan Queen,’ to discuss, “a complex hybrid involving a manfreda cultivar, Agave macroacantha and A. pablocarrilloi.” These mangaves from Mr. Hansen’s breeding program at Walters Gardens are irresistibly collectible as well as fantastic in the landscape, a spineless alernative for the spiky plant phobes. I envy whoever walked away with the spectacular specimen on the San Marcos table.

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Like the Hansen mangaves, another “it” plant of the moment is Casuarina glauca ‘Cousin It,” a fire resistant, drought tolerant ground cover/container plant from Paul Chambers at Australian Outback Plants. Mr. Baldwin also discussed Rhagodia spinescens, Creeping Australian Saltbush, a vigorous but very worthy ground cover brought into cultivation by the late plant explorer and nurseryman Gary Hammer. There is an impressive planting of this creeping saltbush at the arboretum that I didn’t have time to check out but will in the future. Other San Marcos selections included Leucadendron ‘Hawaii Magic,’ a compact cone bush from John Cho at the University of Hawaii, and the compact Chondropetalum tectorum ‘El Campo,’ which I have in my notes as first appearing in mass plantings at the Huntington Botanical Gardens — though I can’t swear by my messy notes on this point. San Marcos is another nursery celebrating some impressive longevity, 40 years’ strong.

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John Schoustra of Greenwood Daylilies presented Iris ‘Frequent Flyer’ for its year-round presentability and prodigious blooming, pictured above on the left; Hemerocallis ‘Dusky Rouge,’ a daylily in bloom for 10 months out of the year and judged by chefs to have the tastiest blossoms (who knew?); Syringa vulgaris ‘Snowy Beach’ for the many nostalgic transplants to SoCal, and apparently there are a lot of them — the ones who want to grow peonies and lilacs in a climate wholly unsuitable, so plant breeders to the rescue. I’m always impressed by his discussion of the bioremediation abilities of long-lived daylilies and the amount of urban pollution they can tolerate.

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Recent honoree by the Southern California Horticultural Society as 2018 Horticulturist of the Year, Mr. Schoustra, humble as ever, works his table.

Mr. Schoustra also presented Salvia ‘Love Child,’ a naturally occuring hybrid of Salvias clevelandii and leucophylla (I believe found in his home garden).

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Trees were not excluded from discussion nor raffles. BrightView brought gorgeous specimens of the Netleaf Oak from Chiapas, Mexico, Quercus rugosa. I saw Annette from Potted walk off with one of these, saying something about once having had to remove a large oak, and it was time to make restitution by planting a new one. Johanna’s partner, prop master and multidisciplinary artist Eugene McCarthy, won a raffle of one of these oaks too.

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Red leaf tips on Quercus rugosa.

Brightview also presented Quercus tomentella, the California Island Oak, Quercus engelmanii, and Quercus virginiana ‘Cathedral.’

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On the Native Sons’ table and up for discussion during their presentation was this lovely thing, a variegated sport of Leymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’ appropriately named ‘Canyon Princess.’ Available sometime in 2019. I’ll be waiting.

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Native Sons also presented Actostaphylos insularis as particularly worthy of mention in a genus overflowing with worthiness. A very tough fern, Polypodium scouleri, also received plaudits, along with Sesleria ‘Campo Azul,’ a seedling from S. autumnalis.

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After a break for lunch, Nicholas Staddon of Village Nurseries talked up another plant currently having its moment in the sun (or shade too), Lomandra ‘Platinum Beauty’ (‘Roma13’). Mr. Staddon also chose for discussion Callistemon viminalis ‘Slim,’ Ilex X ‘Rutholl,’ the dward Jacaranda mimosifolia ‘Sakai01’ and Laurus nobilis ‘MonRik.’ Mr. Staddon announced that the UC Davis Landscape Plant Irrigation Trial program will be opening a satellite trial ground at UC Irvine next spring, which professionals will be able to visit and study.

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Lili Singer presented Theodore Payne’s selections, including the Desert Willow, Chilopsis linearis ‘Burgundy,’ a beautiful, small, fast-growing tree in bloom May to November; winter deciduous, multi-trunked. Also discussed were Arctostaphylos cruzensis and Ceanothus ‘Frosty Blue.’ Ms. Singer recommended a great online resource for California native plants, Calscape, which allows you to plug in your zip code to find suitably zoned plants for your area. The Theodore Payne Foundation will be holding its fall sale October 25-27. They offer $100 membership to landscape professionals that discounts 25% on all purchases, which includes pulling the plant order to have it ready and waiting for you.

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Jo O’Connell of Australian Native Plants began her presentation with a heartfelt thank-you to all who helped in her nursery’s recovery from last year’s devastating wildfire in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area. She brought some wonderful banksias to discuss that are not overly sensitive to our alkaline soil issues, such as Banksia integrifolia and grandis.

Banksia grandis, the Bull Banksia, has no problem with chlorosis in alkaline soils. (In any case, adding iron chelate is an easy fix.)

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Hakeas are one Australian plant I’ve yet to grow. This is Hakea archaeoides, a “medium to tall shrub with mid-green leaves with rusty new foliage, lignotuberous, and has orange-red flowers. Hardy to moderate frost, prefers some summer watering. Requires well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade position. Excellent cut foliage. Good informal screen, fast growing.”

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The smaller mallee eucalypts are a favorite of Jo’s, including the ghost gum, Eucalyptus victrix, “a striking, smooth, white-trunked small tree from Western Australia and Central Australia and into the Northern Territory. Very drought and heat tolerant. Said to be slow growing (for a Eucalyptus!) It has been growing well in Ojai and tolerating 110F and a cold 18F with little protection.”

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At John Greenlee’s table, a lucky attendee walks off with a very promising local selection of the eyebrow grass. Maybe you’ve noticed that Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ isn’t a spectacular performer in Southern California? This new form comes from seed collected near Big Bear Lake and is therefore more regionally suited to SoCal. And just look at the profusion of bloom! Also of great interest to me on Greenlee’s table were those tall purple blooms. I’ve always felt that tulbaghia was very worthy of plant breeders’ attention, and gratifyingly there were a couple interesting examples at the show. Native Sons had a lovely white form of a tulbaghia brought over from England, and this agapanthus-like tulbaghia from Greenlee, available sometime in 2019, is called ‘Big Amethyst.’ Not up for raffle, no one was walking away with these rare beauties.

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Leymus triticoides ‘Lagunita’ “has the potential to become the gold standard of native California meadow grasses.”

Mr. Greenlee (“Who’s your grass daddy?” he asked, as he bounded up to the stage) presented Calamagrostis nukaensis ‘The King,’ Eragrostis intermedia ‘Madera Creek,’ Poa cita ‘Golden,’ and Leymus triticoides ‘Lagunita,’ another very exciting grass that supposedly can take not only foot traffic but some tire traffic as well! (Sometimes it’s hard to tell if/when he’s joking…or it could be my notes again.) As a designer of grass ecologies, he aims for the most green for the least amount of water. Continuing his investigations into mowable meadows interplanted with bulbs and perennials, I noted a six pack of fairy lilies/zephyranthes on the table. He no longer has his own nursery but associates with other growers.

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The last presentation was by Berylwood Trees, which runs an impressive operation handing enormous boxed trees for installations large and small. And they offer a bespoke espalier service, so if you’re interested in 15 espaliered flannel bushes, talk to Berylwood.

You’ll be relieved to find I have just four more words to say about the APLD Los Angeles Chapter’s first plant fair: Let’s do this again!

Edited 10/9/18: More photos and information on many of these plants are available via PlantMaster, which handled the slide presentation. You can find out more about this professional resource by contacting Gerry Kiffe, General Manager GardenSoft, (805) 499-9689.

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