this is my brain on spring

Spring is such a massive distraction, and that’s coming from just my own little garden, which apart from work* I rarely want to leave. For the first time in my adult life, I drove by a multiplex theater on Sunday and wasn’t familiar with a single movie title on the marquee. I can’t keep plant show dates straight and nearly missed attending the Spring Garden Show over the weekend, which always has great vendors like B&D Lilies and Franchi Seeds of Italy, though if they were at the show this year, I didn’t find them. I had no idea there were speakers or who they would be (Dan Hinkley). Spring, I give up. You win. I know by summer the infatuation will have cooled.

At the show I speed-walked past the display gardens and headed straight for the plant vendors. My overall impression was that a neo-19th century orchid mania has gripped this show. But since these plants are born scene-stealers, it’s hard to tell if the show has a creeping orchid bias or not. High-dollar orchids bobbed out of shopping bags, rode up and down escalators in the arms of their new, terribly excited owners. Masses of orchids in exquisitely perfect bloom added a concentrated and disorienting “In The Realm of The Senses” mood to the show.

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Every color of epiphyllum, the orchid cactus, was on offer.

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Every color of epidendrum, the reed orchids

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The techno-hobbyists also had plenty to admire, like a bonsai’d boug

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As usual, the bromeliads were my biggest temptation. I’ve really wanted an alcantarea, but this lovely thing had just won some award and so carried a trophy price.

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One of my favorite vendors at the show carried exotic bulbs and gorgeous tropical seed pods, like this entada species.

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Cerbera odollam, the Pong-pong tree, also know as the “Suicide Tree,” once used in Madagascar in the ritual “trial by ordeal” to prove guilt or innocence.
Justice was irrelevant because, guilty or innocent, the tree is invariably lethal (related to the oleander).

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The succulent tables are always worth a browse.

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I wrote about this succulent not long ago, Graptopetalum superbum. This one has slight variegation to the leaf and has been named ‘Cotton Candy.’ $50 for a one-rosette plant.

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I spent a lot of time with the tillandsias and hanging plants, trussed with fishing line, performing delicate aerial ballets.

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What did I buy? More rhipsalis, of course, that shaggy, mop-headed epiphytic cacti. Andy’s Orchids had a nice selection.

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And being on a hanging plant binge, you know there was some experimenting yesterday on some old topiary forms.

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After the show I had a craving for simplicity and found these ‘Yellow Garden’ cosmos at a local nursery.

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I don’t know how those orchid people stand the excitement.

*In this video ‘Verbatim: What Is a Photocopier?’ the NYT recreated a scene from my day job. My stand-in is the woman at the end of the table with the shocked expression, writing it all down. Which partly explains why I like plants so much…

7 thoughts on “this is my brain on spring

  1. It’s all very well going to shows at this time of the year and seeing amazing and exotic plants. But really just at the moment there is nowhere in the world as wonderful as your own garden.I should think every gardener feels like this from now until the end of June.
    Lovely Cosmos and I like the succulent.

  2. I’ve noticed that the show is dominated more and more by orchids each year – maybe it’s the alignment with the upcoming Mother’s Day, or maybe the decision to move the venue for the OC orchid show once held there. I didn’t see either of the 2 vendors you named there this year either and I also noticed that there were no vendors selling rusty welded metal things, which was a disappointment. After looking at this year’s display gardens, I’d be in favor of giving the space over to plant vendors with just a little room for displays created by student horticulturists.

  3. @Chloris, so very true. Spring is full of those perfect moments — inlike today, with raging winds and temps 20 degrees above normal!
    @Kris, wished I’d have bumped into you. I wrote a few versions of this post, trying to find the right tone. Plant shows are always on such thin ice financially that to dissect one isn’t what I want to do. This one drew huge crowds that could barely be budged away from the vendor tables. And if I’ve learned anything, my tastes are definitely not commercial 😉

  4. Here’s to folks with tastes that definitely aren’t commercial! A high five in your direction. I tend to miss these shows anymore, much more interested in touring real gardens and shopping at wholesale nurseries of various types. Feeling much overdue for a jaunt down to San Diego nurseries, which I haven’t done in over 10 years, and totally miss it! Need more bigger budget jobs where I can justify shopping long distance. Just a one hour stop at San Marcos Growers two weeks ago resulted in some juicy new purchases of budded up Thenardia, flowering Solanum wendlandii, Thunbergia mysorensis, Stigmaphyllum ciliatum,(on a flowering vine kick), and various Bauhinia x blakeana in different shades and a bicolored Erythrina coralloides in bloom. Totally tropical, but who needs to worry about winter cold in April, with unseasonably warm 90°F temps for tomorrow, and no Santa Ana winds here. Will be helping out at the opening night annual sale at SFBG on Friday, flogging or flinging my home grown landscape bromeliads on the public. I could snag you a couple of variegated Vriesea philippo-cobergii if you’re interested Denise, rooted pups that are easily mailed…

  5. I skipped all the orchids–wish I’d gotten a Rhipsalis, tho. The Clematis Club that sold the big 5 gallon plants wasn’t there either, and I also missed the Lily people. They were always so helpful. Still, way better than no garden show at all.

  6. @David, it’s true, I don’t go too far out of my way to get to these shows anymore. I missed SF’s this year. Nice haul on the plants. I was looking at that solanum on Flora’s fence recently to see how its winter shape, how it’s pruned etc. Thanks for the offer on the brom, very kind, but I’m out of shade at the moment and these winds are playing havoc with leaves. I found a gallon-size pseudobombax locally yesterday so am really starting to fill up empty pots.
    @Peter, I had a job very similar to the one in the video about 2 wks ago. Still recovering…
    @Hoov, I saw the clems there and gave them a wide berth. Won’t get fooled again. I loved all the vendors, even with plants I don’t necessarily want to grow.

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