Tag Archives: plant shows

it’s show time

Last week I planted out in the garden the remaining plants I brought home from last summer’s travels. All winter I eyed these purchases nervously, as though they were exhibits in a trial of my weak character. I knew they were impulse buys of wonderful plants I had no business bringing home, since there wasn’t a jot of garden space available to them. And the long rainless season of daily watering of pots is almost here, and what if I missed a few days and these lovelies died on my watch? They needed to get their roots into the garden before summer or there’d be no doubt left that I sacrifice beautiful plants on the altar of thoughtless acquisition. Then the clouds parted, a huge clump of wayward blue lyme grass was removed from the front garden and the Cassinia X ozothamnus from Far Reaches Farm was planted in its place. Suddenly, I had very few plants in pots to care for and my conscience was clear. And just in time for the season of plant sales. How about that for timing!

This weekend is the Orange County Cactus and Succulent Society’s Spring Show and Sale. I had a couple free hours yesterday, the opening day. You can’t get into too much trouble at a succulent sale if you stick to the small stuff.

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Echeveria multicaulis

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But within seconds of entering the sale room, I saw a couple of the tree-like Euphorbia ammak. I grabbed one quick and placed it securely in the temporary holding area. The big specimens at local nurseries are out of my price range. About a foot and a half high for $10 was exactly what I’ve been looking for.

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And so the internal logic of plant sales takes over. I need this because…and then the next morning, when the fog of plant sale mania has lifted, you’re faced with a box filled with a very odd assortment of plants. And it’s nearly as much fun as the sale going over them again, checking out this unlikely group of plants all now sharing space in a cardboard box because of some whim of taste.

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I leaned heavily toward bromeliads this year and found a lot to like at this table, bromeliads new to me like hechtias and pitcairnias.
The tall green one on the left, a Neoregelia ‘Devroe’ came home with me.

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Neoregelia ‘Punctatissima Rubra’ x ‘Tigrina’

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A grassy-ish bromeliad, a species pitcairnia, which I was told wants constant moisture, so regular potting soil will be OK.

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Hechtia epigyna, a small bromeliad from Mexico

Two more days of this nice little show left. As I was leaving with my cardboard boxes filled, another attendee and I wondered if there would be different plants, maybe better plants on Saturday and Sunday. Maybe they held back the best for the weekend?

Yes, it’s definitely show time.

Succulent Sunday

The nice man who I gave all my cash to, talking about a miniature agave from Japan he called ‘Shoji.’
(Unlike many of the Japanese A. potatorum hybrids, this one supposedly grows not much bigger than a poker chip.)


Cleaned out, and I hadn’t been at the show five minutes. His was the first table I stopped by at the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society Plant Show and Sale held this Sunday, June 12, lured in by his variegated sport of Kalanchoe beharensis and this Aeonium smithii.


I couldn’t leave Kalanchoe synsepala on his table either.


Like Vegas, you have to develop a plan to stretch whatever resources you came with for the duration. But I don’t see how this is possible at plant shows.
There’s just too many fascinating, smooth-talking characters with backyard hybridization stories to part you from your money, like a John Laroche behind every plant sale table, right out of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. And by that reference, I’m not implying any chicanery, just lifelong, obsessional love for plants.

I was later tempted by a small $7 Agave ‘Creme Brulee,’ but did no further shopping and just basked in the show atmosphere.

Unnamed bromeliad hybrids in bloom.


Though I did harass at least three people to find the correct name of this bromeliad, which was mislabeled on the show table. None were for sale.
It was difficult to get a clear photo without moving other show plants. And at a plant show, you do not touch the plants.

Billbergia sanderiana is officially on the Future Plant Purchases list.

And since I was up in the Valley anyway for the show, I checked out the succulent and cactus nursery California Nursery Specialists a few minutes away in Reseda. They are commercial growers open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. The experience was a bit overwhelming, to say the least.

Endless vistas of Echeveria subrigida


Narrow walkways, hanging pots overhead. Dark red leaves are Crassula marginalis with string of pearls, Senecio rowleyanus.


And nursery houses after nursery house, each suffocatingly hot, although outside temps were mild, in the 70’s.

The heat, the shapes, the colors. (There was a table loaded with the ‘Pink Butterflies’ kalanchoe I blogged about yesterday.)


I bought a couple Echeveria ‘Metallica’ and a small Agave angustifolia ‘Marginata.’ Reasonable prices, overwhelming selection.