Tag Archives: Melocactus matanzanus

another rainy day at the Huntington


In a bizarre bit of repetition, two recent visits to the Huntington Botanical Garden have coincided with that rarest of occurrences, a rainy day in Los Angeles during our mega drought.
April especially is late in the season for a rainstorm, even in a normal rainfall year, but nevertheless the Huntington’s annual spring plant sale 2015 was a rainy affair.
Traditionally held in the parking lot, the sale was held this year inside the Huntington, adjacent to the Children’s Garden, which means you have to buy a ticket to attend the plant sale now.
I didn’t buy much, just a couple aloes, but researched lots of unfamiliar plants on my phone, like a buddleia from Texas with felty grey leaves and orange bobbly flowers.
(See David’s photo of the Wooly Butterfly Bush, Buddleia marrubifolia.)

 photo 1-_MG_1417.jpg

The new Education and Visitor Center empty on a stormy late April day.
On arrival barely an hour previous, the Huntington’s enormous parking lot was so crowded that I had to make several loops to find a parking space.
But all those visitors scattered when the clouds opened.

 photo 1-P1015730.jpg

Newly planted pots, many of them filled with acacias and leucadendrons. There was what looked to be a Melaleuca thymifolia in the pot on the right.
Acacia ‘Cousin Itt’ in the pot on the left is approaching classic status as an evergreen for containers.

Aloe camperi photo 1-P1015850.jpg

Aloe camperii

After the sale, I headed straight for the desert garden to see it in the light, drizzly rain.

It really knows how to rain in the foothills. The drizzle quickly turned into a proper downpour.
Very little of this storm made it home here in Long Beach, about 30 miles south of Pasadena.
But once again, and in the space of two months, I found myself in the Huntington’s desert garden unprepared for a deluge.
As happy as I am to see, hear, and feel rain, the novelty of wet clothes wears off pretty quickly, and taking photos becomes impossible.
Rather than let the rain chase me home, I bought an umbrella from the gift shop.
(And this being the Huntington’s gift shop, my umbrella twirls a William Morris print.)

 photo 1-P1015798.jpg

I quickly gave up on juggling the camera and the umbrella. Besides, where better to spend a rainy day at the Huntington than in the Desert Garden Conservatory?
I left my umbrella folded under a plant bench at the door, but amazingly other rain-dodging visitors entered with their umbrellas fully deployed.
With umbrella ribs threatening to knock over rare specimens, the docents somehow managed to remain calm but firmly instructed to close all brollies.
Only in Los Angeles does rainy day/umbrella etiquette have to be spelled out.
Chatting with the docents, I learned that the Desert Garden Conservatory is to be closed for renovations within the year, to be rebuilt on site as a two-story conservatory.
They also revealed their trick for dislodging cactus spines and glochids: Spread white glue over the area in a thin film, let dry, and peel. That or electrical tape.

echeveria bench photo 1-P1015788.jpg

Echeveria bench, ‘Afterglow’ in the middle

 photo 1-P1015770.jpg

Stenocereus beneckii Mexico photo 1-P1015826.jpg

Stenocereus beneckii

melocactus matanzanus photo 1-P1015837.jpg

Melocactus matanzanus. Of all the melos, this one forms the “Turk’s cap” at the youngest age.

Aloe peglerae photo 1-P1015784.jpg

Aloe peglerae

 photo 1-P1015841.jpg

ghostly pale furcraea

 photo 1-P1015759.jpg

There’s always something in the glasshouse I hadn’t noticed before, like this collection of orthophytums, Brazilian bromeliads.

orthophytum and dyckias photo 1-P1015753.jpg

 photo 1-P1015764.jpg

 photo 1-P1015760.jpg

with xylonocantha on the left photo 1-P1015746.jpg

I’m always hoping to find this elusive, variegated form of Agave attenuata at a plant sale. Maybe next year.

Plant sale haul: A NOID aloe believed to be a cross by David Verity, Aloe cryptoflora, and one umbrella.

Saturday clippings 7/26/14


Melocactus matanzanus photo P1019672.jpg

Melocactus matanzanus

The Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society sale is this weekend, where the buzz and gossip amongst the sales tables might very likely entice you into bringing home your first melocactus.
It’s possible that the recent visit to the Huntington’s Desert Conservatory is behind this atypical impulse buy.
(I also snagged a small Agave ‘Tradewinds,’ with lovely blue-green stripes and a couple bromeliads, much more typical of my usual succulent show purchases.)
I’m going to designate the melocactus my favorite plant in the garden this week, because if you go to Loree’s blog, the post prior to favorite plants references a great deal on the Personal Recollections of William Hertrich, the man who made the desert garden for Huntington. And here I just bought socks on Amazon for my youngest son and forgot to add Hertrich’s recollections to my basket. Damn.

Eulophia petersii photo P1019620.jpg

Eulophia petersii at the sale

Plant shows are so helpful in filling in gaps in understanding the life cycle of these often very slow-growing plants. I’d never heard of eulophias before this week, a desert-adapted orchid, so would normally walk right by these pleated green leaves with the bulbous bases, which I’m sure I’ve done dozens of times before at succulent shows.

Eulophia photo P1019560-001.jpg

But I had just seen eulophia in a staggering full-bloom display earlier in the week at Solana Succulents, on consignment sale for hundreds of dollars.
So what those underwhelming leaves were capable of producing was still very fresh in my mind. Pots about one-sixth the size of the above container were selling for $50 at the show.

 photo P1019668.jpg

The eulophia fit neither my wallet nor the Mini Cooper, so the only purchase I made at Solana Succulents was this smooth-leaved Dyckia ‘Naked Lady.’

 photo P1019671.jpg

I’m compulsive about planting something as soon as I bring it home. I tend to forget to water seed trays and cuttings, but if it’s in the garden I know I’ll keep an eye on it.
I planted the new dyckia as a ringer amongst a couple Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea.’
Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I’m thinking this placement kind of minimizes that rank plant show impulsivity I fall victim to, as in Nothing to see here, just a disciplined repetition of key plants..
I have an enormous clump of barbed dyckia to tackle one day, so this Dyckia nudum had instant appeal.

Pachypodium namaquanum photo P1019625.jpg

Pachypodium namanquanum

This pachypodium at the show reminded me of the verbascum I once grew and can’t seen to find again.
(The verbascum was sold as V. undulatum. Furry, chartreuse leaves, it could have been Verbascum epixanthinum.)

Lastly, in case you’re in need of more bromeliads, and who isn’t, Rainforest Flora in Torrance is having a 20 percent sale this weekend and next weekend too.