at the Inter-City CSSA Show August 2016

The funny thing about hard-core succulent shows is there’s often non-succulent treasures on the sales tables too.

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On arrival, I made a quick circuit around the tables and immediately became fixated on these decidedly non-succulent leaves.

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And the mottling on these stems. No name tag, no price.


Usually, the vendors stand at their tables to answer questions, but this table was unattended. So I started asking around about the plant. But probably because it wasn’t a succulent, no one knew what it was. “Oh, that’s Petra’s table. Ask Petra.” But where was Petra? Loath to put it back down on the table and up for grabs again, I carried the plant in its 6-inch pot as I resumed checking out the other tables, while simultaneously scanning for Petra’s return. After 10 minutes or so, another vendor told me he had seen Petra in the show building. Strict rules forbid sale plants to cross the show threshold. If I put the plant down, I was certain it would be snapped up. So there was a brief impasse while I was stopped at the show door by a rule-obeying docent, pleading my case to no avail, when a gentleman overheard my dilemma and offered to go in and look for Petra. All of this seemingly unnecessary information is only to convey the commitment I had made to this plant by the time Petra came out of the show and breezily said, “Oh, that one’s not for sale! That one’s mine.” She had meant to take it from the sales table but got sidetracked.

Needless to say, what catches my eye on the show tables mirrors my interaction with the sales tables. Random, uninformed, wholly enthusiastic.
The show was mobbed, with lots of people taking photos, so one had to be polite, snap fast and move on, with plant ID or without plant ID.

Rhipsalis salicornioides (Dancing Bones Cactus" won best epiphyte photo 1-P1012979.jpg

Though there were not many photographers jostling for access to Dancing Bones, Rhipsalis salicornioides (Best epiphyte in show!)

Astrophytum ornatum largest, easiest to grow photo 1-P1013059.jpg

Whereas this Astrophytum ornatum, reputedly the largest and easiest to grow, was probably the most Instagrammable entry.

Stenocactus multicostatus, Brain Cactus photo 1-P1013134.jpg

Table after table of exquisite meditations on pots and plants. Stenocactus multicostatus

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And unusual specimens, many very, very old, like this hollowed-out ponytail palm, Beaucarnia recurvata

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Aloe sinkatana

Aloe melanacantha photo 1-P1013048.jpg

Aloe melanacantha

aloe branddraaiensis photo 1-P1013045.jpg

Aloe branddraaiensis

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A sweet haworthia

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Didn’t catch the ID.

pachypodium table with ongoing lecture by Peter.. photo 1-P1013101.jpg

Pachypodium namaquanum

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Lithops table

Echinocactus grusonii var. inermis photo 1-P1013131.jpg

Echinocactus grusonii var. inermis

Calif Cactus Ctr table (commercial) photo 1-P1013082.jpg

California Cactus Center “commercial” table

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Didn’t catch the ID.

Agave 'Tuxedo Mask' photo 1-P1012968.jpg

Agave ‘Tuxedo Mask’

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Agave bracteosa ‘Monterrey Frost’

Agave VR monstrose photo 1-P1012966.jpg

monstrose form of Agave victoriae-reginae

Sulcorebutia rauschii photo 1-P1012957.jpg

Sulcorebutia rauschii

Sulcorebutia heliosa photo 1-P1012959.jpg

Sulcorebutia heliosa

Matucana madisoniorum photo 1-P1012962.jpg

Matucana madisoniorum

Neoporteria nidus photo 1-P1012950.jpg

Neoporteria nidus

mammillaria sp. photo 1-P1013004.jpg

Mammillaria table

Euphorbia bongolavensis photo 1-P1012990.jpg

Euphorbia bongolavensis, like a lilliputian poinsettia

Cylindropuntia tunicata Thistle Cholla photo 1-P1013007.jpg

Cylindropuntia tunicata, Thistle Cholla

(Cylindropuntia ramosissima Diamond Cholla photo 1-P1013019.jpg

Cylindropuntia ramosissima, Diamond Cholla

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bonsai’d cussonia


I bought a small Aloe camperi, Dudleya palmeri, variegated Aloe arborescens, but that’s not all.
Although the coveted plant I mentioned earlier was not for sale, Petra thought there might be a couple more on the table in the back. Yes, there were two, albeit smaller plants. I had invested maybe 20 minutes into this mystery plant, roping countless people into my quest for its identify, before I learned its name and price, Amorphophallus impressus, for just under a C-note. I thanked Petra, who was utterly charming, smiled, put it down and walked away. I’ve rarely, count-on-one-hand hardly ever paid that price for a plant, and never when taking a flier on an unknown. I circled back and walked away a few more times but ultimately returned, breaking into a screw-it stride to claim my prize. There was by now way too much story attached to the plant to leave it behind. So, yes, I did. I took the plunge. I know the voodoo lilies only from the Plant Delights catalogues and of course when the news media covers the putrid-smelling bloom of gigantic A. titanum in various botanical gardens. But none of that mattered. The show had cast its spell on me, and nothing else mattered but the plants.

(Voodoo Lily, Amorphophallus impressus, winter dry, Petra Crist, Rare Succulents Nursery, (“just got them from Neil”) 562-618-7250)

Have a great weekend! I’ll probably be staying close to home since I emptied my wallet at the show.

16 thoughts on “at the Inter-City CSSA Show August 2016

  1. That was a Voodoo lily you were looking at. First year, they look lovely like that.. second year-stinky flowers! But they are beautiful. You aren’t the only one who has been entranced by the foliage.. but be warned! The flower smells of roadkill.

    Thank you for sharing these pictures. It’s a treat to see species I normally don’t get to see, as well as whatever new varieties are being introduced. I’m even more grateful for botanical names! Hah!

  2. I googled it – that’s a beautiful Voodoo lily!

    I’d be in serious trouble at that show if that pottery is also for sale. The pot that the Sulcorebutia heliosa was shown in has me drooling.

  3. Loved seeing those Agaves that Hoov shared all over again here…they are nothing short of fabulous.

    I still remember the excited, yet sick, feeling I had after we bought Sammy (the big Yucca rostrata). How did we just spend THAT MUCH MONEY on something that could die? Thankfully that turned out to be once of the best purchases we ever made (garden wise), I hope yours turns out similarly.

  4. I hope it thrives for you! Your pictures made me crave more Agave bracteosa, and not necessarily variegated. They’re one that will live through our winters in the ground. That variegated one in your pictures is beautiful. The Agave above it is stunning too. Actually, thanks for all the fab photos from this show! They’re so good at matching plants to pots, aren’t they?

  5. As I read your post, I was initially quite incensed with Petra on your behalf but then she came back with a plant. A discount would have been nice but at least she came through. May your voodoo lily live long and prosper! I’m impressed by that Cussonia bonsai and that thistle cholla. The Inter-city show really is the Superbowl of cactus and succulent shows, isn’t it? All the local shows pale in comparison.

  6. @Rebecca, that’d be wonderful to get flowers in the second year, if it lives that long! I tried to get as many plant names as possible, but this really seemed to be the best attended show ever, with lots of people standing long and staring hard at plants.
    @Kim, you know it, that pottery is for sale. I spared you photos of the pottery table 😉
    @Loree, did you blog on the origins of Sammy? I’ll have to do a search. Sammy is now — sorry I have to use the word — an iconic DG feature and I can’t imagine the garden without him.
    @Thank you, Alison, for the well wishes on the voodoo lily. I wonder if I have the humidity for it. And me too — the next varieg squid agave I find I want to grow like that one!

  7. @Kris, I was probably the only person at the show interested in the voodoo lily, but I wasn’t going to take any chances by leaving it unguarded. Petra was a sweetheart. Yes, you need to go to the show next year! I never know which day I’m going til the last minute, but we should try to coordinate.

  8. Loree, I definitely have to go through your back pages — can’t believe how much the garden has changed! Thanks for the link.

  9. Wonderful photos, some plants I missed–there was so much to look at. We fled when the women with strollers started blocking all the aisles. I feared for my shins.

    Petra has the awesomest plants and grows what is impossible for most gardeners.

  10. That thistle cholla is downright fiber-optic. Wow. Great shot.

    Some entries have such dignity and self-possession, even solemnity. And then there’s the Matucana madisoniorum — who could keep from cracking a smile on catching sight of it? That lackadaisical, random habit, the scruffy tufts of spines, the wonderful contrast between turquoise “epidermis” and raucous red-orange blooms, and the way they circle the top: par-TAY!!

    All quite other-worldly. Transporting.

    Is Petra’s personal plant some kind of Arisaema? That’s what the spotted stem says to me.

  11. Ah, have now read the comments. Some east coast bot garden had one of those bloom this year — after several decades, I think. So… plenty of seasons of spotted-stem enjoyment before stinky flower (assuming adequate humidity).

  12. Thanks for sharing your visit. So many cool things: containers included.
    Agave Tuxedo mask made my heart skip a beat!

  13. That bonsai Cussonia is the specimen that dazzles me most. Some beautiful combinations of plant and container. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I stopped by the show too, and added a few things to my new-but-growing collection! I am jealous about the voodoo lily, I have been looking at the ones at Plant Delights every week to try to decide which one would not be too big for my tiny yard. But also I kind of don’t care. 😀

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