Tag Archives: Cactus & Succulent Society of America

Wanda Mallen & Gary Vincent’s Fallbrook garden

The CSSA’s tour of private gardens for their 2015 Biennial Convention in June also included the 2-acre garden of Wanda Mallen and Gary Vincent in Fallbrook, Calif.
This superb collector’s garden, started from scratch in approximately 1999-2000, is occasionally open for tours through local garden societies.
Areas of interest include cactus and succulents, tropicals, palms, conifers, and Australian plants.
I know very little about the garden other than what I learned on foot, but I can provide some scant information on Fallbrook.

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Continue reading Wanda Mallen & Gary Vincent’s Fallbrook garden

The landscape at Pitzer College

We have Joe Clements to thank for the unique pleasure it is to stroll the grounds of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Twenty-five years managing the Desert Garden at the Huntington Botanical Garden more than prepared him for his current position* as Arboretum and Grounds Manager at Pitzer.
The site of a former quarry, this liberal arts campus dating to 1963 covers about 35 acres.
I tried my best to photograph as much as possible on a hot, blindingly bright afternoon this weekend.
For a comprehensive pictorial, at least a half dozen more trips would be needed, and preferably in the even light of early morning or sunset.
This post will be quick and dirty, no plant IDs, just an introductory overview.
I missed the chance to explore the campus when attending a field trip sponsored by CSSA during their recent Biennial Convention held at Pitzer and vowed to return.

From “Guidelines for the Pitzer College Landscape“:

Geologically, Pitzer is situated on an alluvial fan at the foot of some of the steepest mountains in the world.
Biologically, we are at the intersection of the mountainous chaparral community with the
coastal sage scrub of the valley. In a broader sense, we are part of the arid and semi-arid
American Southwest that embraces New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Utah and Nevada, as
well as southern California and Baja. Climatically, we live in one example of a
“Mediterranean” climate (mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers), which we share with the
countries of the Mediterranean rim and parts of southern Africa, Australia, and Chile

For me what sets Pitzer apart is its unusual hybrid status as both residence and commercial site.
Both uses have been melded together in a landscape that succeeds as a temporary home for students while they attend the college.

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Continue reading The landscape at Pitzer College

InterCity Succulent Show and Sale August 17-18, 2013

Mr. Ripple and friends cordially invite you to that holy of holies in the world of desert plants, The InterCity Show and Sale next weekend, August 17 and 18, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

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Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’

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Agave potatorum in the loveliest shade of powder blue, found at a plant show unlabeled

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Aloe marlothii

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Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

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the white whale of agaves, A. celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’

Now that succulents are as ubiquitous as petunias and can be found on racks outside grocery stores, there’s no need for proselytizing about their sculptural attractions and water-wise virtues. This sale is for the already converted who are looking for rarities in affordably small sizes. The discerning eye and encyclopedic knowledge of members of Southern California succulent societies have already done the heavy lifting for us in seeking out the best of the best, and these plants offered for sale are the fruit of their lifelong passion for desert plants. But if you’re still not convinced, drop your magazine, possibly turned to a regionally inappropriate article on the top 10 plants for perennial borders in August (though there’s nothing wrong with a little garden porn!) and come see why Southern California is the envy of savvy plant people all over the world. Like the bodies on Venice’s Muscle Beach, these are some seriously well-toned plants, each one an evolutionary warrior able to survive with minimal irrigation. I’m hoping to find more of my latest enthusiasm, hanging epiphytic cactus like rhipsalis.

CSSA Plant Sale at the Huntington Botanical Gardens

The Cactus & Succulent Society of America’s plant sale at the Huntington June 29 through July 1, 2012, is one I hope not to miss this year.

I’ve moved my little Agave parrasana ‘Fireball’ from last year’s plant sales into a prominent location as a reminder.


A big succulent plant show and sale is the strongest mind-altering, mood-enhancing, sensory-overloading drug there is. Mark your calendars!

Huntington Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA.
Sale: Friday – Sunday.
Show: Saturday & Sunday 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Inner Gardens, Los Angeles


Hat tip to Miss Rumphius’ Rules for recently blogging on Inner Gardens, which put the sliver in my brain to check out *Stephen Block’s garden antiques emporium in Culver City. Today I worked just a couple miles down the road so popped in for a quick visit. (I’ve been a long-time fan of Susan Cohan’s excellent blog, whose title is a delightful reminder of the beloved children’s book “Miss Rumphius,” which was in heavy reading rotation in our house over 20 years ago.)


Neoclassical, modern, rustic — every kind of garden ornament and pottery can be found at Inner Gardens, but overall the objects speak less to a specific period or style and more to the timeless, primal connection we have to gardens. My visit was much too short and ended abruptly due to a work emergency, just as I discovered the plant nursery portion of Inner Gardens.






There is most definitely a keen, plant-hungry eye at work here.
Golden club moss? (Selaginella kraussiana)


This large concrete bowl was a textural tour de force.
Dramatic kalanchoes were nearly upstaged by the intensely crinkled and contorted trailing hoya.

Kalanchoe orgyalis, the Copper Spoons.


Closer look of what I think must be some kind of hoya, the “Hindu rope,” not a plant seen much locally. Must be the Florida influence seeping into Mr. Block’s designs. Brilliant choice for echoing the furry, crinkly leaves of K. beharensis.


From the website:
*”Stephen Block’s fancy for foliage took root during his study of horticulture at the University of Florida. At the time, he owned one of the first mall kiosks in Florida selling plants and flowers. That business blossomed when Block moved to Los Angeles and opened INNER GARDENS.

Stephen’s plant knowledge is vast and he schooled himself on all aspects of flora and foliage. Always seeking large specimens and the most unusual varieties obtainable, his design approach is to create plantings that look as though they have been planted long ago.

In addition, Stephen has a love affair with beautiful and unique containers; ancient, modern and one-of-a-kind containers that when planted with the perfect plant becomes something more. Stephen’s belief that “the perfect plant or plants placed lovingly into the perfect container located in the perfect setting becomes an entity in and of itself…a piece unlike any other.”

For over 18 years, Stephen Block has been fine-tuning INNER GARDENS. Traveling the world himself and developing a network of antique dealers who know to call him immediately when they find something that is on his vast watch list: INNER GARDENS is a visual dream. He has gathered together the finest designers, technicians and installation crews to perform every aspect of plant care, flora and orchid design, installation and service at the highest level.

As a result of Stephen’s guidance and dedication to consistent excellence, INNER GARDENS has grown into the West Coast’s leading resource for everything garden, now with 2 showrooms in the Los Angeles area.’