April don’t go

Bathed in soft light and 70ish temps, April, you’re so dreamy. But can you slow down and linger just a bit longer?

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Open gardens, plant shows. April in Southern California gets the heart of the plant obsessed beating fast. Last weekend included a visit to the superb Mallen/Vincent dry garden in Fallbrook through the San Diego Horticultural Society. Some of Debra Lee Baldwin’s book photos were taken in this garden.

Above is a specimen in the climate-controlled euphorbia greenhouse. Because Fallbrook’s average low temp is 45 degrees in January, I’m guessing the motors I heard whirring into action in the euphorbia greenhouse were for ventilation purposes, not heating. Container after container framing perfectly manicured, exquisitely grown plants fill several greenhouses and are scattered throughout the 2-acre garden as well. This was my second visit (maybe third?), and it was as disorienting as the last. Perfection is hard for me to process. In my own garden, good enough is always the enemy of perfection.

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Out in the garden, some plants are ID tagged but not all. If you ask Wanda Mallen, she knows every name, including previous superceded names and contested names. I didn’t always ask because there were lots of other visitors asking what’s this or that.

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But I so wish I had asked the name of this spectacular euphorb.

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The gorgeous variegated ponytail palm is an easy ID.
(Immutable Law of Horticulture: If you kill a plant, you never forget it.)

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Years of careful study and observation are the only way to uncover how to display plants to their best advantage, e.g., elevating the caput-medusae type euphorbias so their sinuous dreadlocks drape down the pot. This might be my favorite planter in the garden.

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There’s a greenhouse devoted to rhipsalis. I’m not lying. But this one was hanging from the patio. (More photos of this patio from my previous visit here.)

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Bromeliads and Elephant Food/Portulacaria afra, a container to plant then do nothing much else with but admire all summer.

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Another favorite planter, a trio of young Euphorbia ammak.

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More caput-medusae euphorbia.

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Euphorbia horrida ‘Snowflake’

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There were several strawberry jars filled with gasteria.

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Gasteria is a succulent that stands a lot of neglect, which is what it gets from me. I just haven’t really bonded with gasteria yet like I have aloes and agaves.

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Cool, stomach-shaped flowers on elegant racemes, sturdy leaves, tolerant of low light. I should treat mine with a little more respect.

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“Squid” pot (from Tentacle Arts) with Aeonium ‘Mardi Gras’

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At first glance the garden seems to favor palms, agaves, and aloes, but the owners have wide-ranging interests, like conifers, callistemon, acacia, bamboo, maples, cycads.

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Another gorgeous April day in this Fallbrook plant collectors’ garden.

8 thoughts on “April don’t go

  1. Wow! That variegated pony-tail palm! I should know by now that there’s at least one variegated version of just about everything, but I’ve never seen that before. I like Gasteria because they’ll grow in a north-facing window. Not something just any succulent can do. I know red callistemons are common in California, but I’m absolutely obsessed with weeping red bottlebrushes. I’m sorry you’re moving past the pleasant weather of April, but I can’t wish for it to go any slower up here. Tomorrow we’re expecting a day near or at 70F, our first this year, and then it’s right back down to the mid-50s for the rest of the week. It does make the flowers last longer, but I want things to grow!

  2. Wow, what a treat, I’m impressed you managed to stop enjoying long enough to take these photos (thank you!). As for April, I’m sorry but it can’t end fast enough for me. We need some heat!

  3. Like all the other PNWers I can’t wait to see the back of April. Warmth and sunshine is in short supply here. That variegated ponytail palm is fabulous! The weeping bottle brushes are cool too.

  4. @Kris, it was shelf after shelf full of those show pots. Wanda mentioned that they do travel in search of more treasures for the garden.
    @Evan, I was gifted a small offset of that varieg ponytail palm and planted it straight in the ground instead of growing it on in a pot — naturally it rotted. Little did I know how rare and pricey it was. I’m so glad the forecast is warming up for you. I know you welcome it since it’s been so long since you’ve seen the sun — whereas I don’t look forward to 90+ temps much 😉
    @Loree, I hope that heat makes an appearance for you PDQ. What a winter and spring Portland has had — really one for the record books.
    @Alison, I did like the weeping bottlebrushes too. Those aren’t often seen here. Wishing warmer weather for you too.

  5. well….serendipity upon serendipity. Was scrounging through a secondhand/collectibles market a few days ago and cleaning up on some fantastic retro pots when I came across a nice sized Euphorbia ammak. Went perfectly with the old heavily textured, yellowy green concrete planter I scored cheaply from another stall, but was entirely clueless as to what it was…didn’t know where to start IDing the subtly mottled beastie so thanks Denise. Now duly repotted and labelled. Gasterias put in a strawberry pot looks the goods too. Hope you enjoy your spring as we are enjoying our fall.

  6. @Ross, serendipity is one of my favorite experiences 😉
    And yesterday I spied a neglected pot of this very same euphorb in a neighbor’s yard and am planning out my approach to offer to buy said neglected succulent. Lots of delicate diplomacy involved here.
    Your yellow/green concrete planter sounds like it was made for that euphorb. Great finds all.

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