Tag Archives: succulent shows

you paid money for that?

At the plant sale attached to the recent succulent show a couple of the society members looked at one of the plants I had in my hands and made all sorts of approving noises. “Great plant!” or “Wow, you scored!”

That was not the reaction when I got the plants home.

While John didn’t quite come out and say something like, “You paid good money for that?,” it was there in implication in what little he said.

I suppose it’s the curious gardener’s curse, getting all excited over some of the odder botanical life forms that didn’t get sprinkled on with the magic unicorn glitter that makes a plant conventionally pretty. Add to that the more general gardener’s curse of being able to see the future in recognizing the promise in a packet of black seeds indistinguishable from dust or a bag of brown bulbs looking no more promising than a heap of shallots.

Here’s one of the little plants, Ipomea platensis, a species in the same genus as morning glories. This is the young plant.

Some day it’ll grow up into something looking like this plant in the main succulent show. Very cool, but we’re missing the magic unicorn glitter.

This is a cool plant with a Latin name that would draw snickers from a junior high school science class, Fockea edulis.

Some day I hope mine grows up into something looking like these larger plants in the main show…

Here’s a more mature specimen of Dioscorea elaphantipes, another of the little plants I got. I think the form of the caudex on this one looks pretty amazing. So far these are three caudex-forming (caudiciform) species, but the inflated plant parts all look quite different from each other. The foliage, too, looks totally different one plant to the next.

Oper­culi­carya decaryi also has a cool inflated stem…

…and tiny, dark, delicate leaves.

And then there was this one, Tyle­codon striatus, a plant that even I think is kinduv ugly. Lots of brown stem and not much else. They have competitions to find the ugliest dogs. Do they have ugly plant contests? This species stands a pretty good chance of winning. And I paid good money for it!

Not all was lumpy and bulbous at the plant sale, and there actually was a lot of unicorn glitter spread over many of the plants.

Echevaria Afterglow and Sedum adolphii 'Oranges'
Golden sedum
Dudleya brittonii
Flower on Adenium obesum, a relative of the tropical plumeria. Like most of the plants I purchased this species will form a dramatic caudex, but people seem to buy it at least as much for the flowers.

I liked the forest of plant labels at this vendor's booth. One of them bears the really unhelpful plant name of succulent...

There were succulent-friendly pots, too. Just look at all that drainage.

And of all the pots I came so close to going home with this one by Don Hunt Ceramics. Isn’t the glaze terrific? You wouldn’t care if the plant inside was as ugly as one of my new ones!

Considering what I purchased–and especially what I did not buy–this might just be the last time I’m allowed to go shopping unattended.


Rebutia muscula
Copiapoa hypogaea var. barquitensis

One of the halls in San Diego’s Balboa Park almost always seems to have a plant show dedicated to one group of plant or another. This past weekend it was the turn for cactus and succulents, courtesy the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society.

This show featured an expected sampling of cactus, but a surprisingly low number of plants with colorful, splashy foliage like you’d find on some sedums or echevarias. Maybe some of them don’t transport so easily, and many others get too big to take to a show. Or maybe there’s a certain snobbery against easy-to-like plants that are probably a little overexposed in garden centers and home stores around town.

I'm not sure how to react to this entry, a carved up specimen of the common San Diego County coastal prickly pear, Opuntia littoralis. Most botanical gardens will have vandalized cactus and succulents, with initials carved into plants that will carry the scars for the rest of their lives. And here's another act of creative vandalism. It's fun, but I'm a little too uptight to enjoy it without feeling some guilt or dis-ease. But in the end it’s probably a better deal for the plant than to chop up the leaf for a big serving of nopales.

Notocactus leninghausii
Mammillaria carmenae
Sulcorebutia rauschii

Rebutia fulviseta--sorry for the awful focus on this one...

Euphorbia poissonii
Euphorbia unispina
And yet another euphorbia, this one E. misera, native right here in coastal San Diego County.
Oops...I didn't get the name of this wonderful wonder. Sorry. Maybe one of you knows? EDIT JUNE 12: Hoover suggested that this might be Cal­ibanus hookeri, and it looks like that is indeed the plant. Thanks, Hoover!
This decades-old specimen is Adenia glauca.

Whatever the reason for the dearth of “pretty plants,” weird was in, and I found myself gravitating to the side of the exhibition hall with plants that took up the idea of succulent growth habits and ran with it in ways you don’t see in cactus or rosette-forming succulents. Pretty many of them are not, but there’s a major cool factor with these.

Out of these I really grooved on the caudiciform species, plants that develop grossly enlarged stem bases, stems or roots to store water for the plant to use during the dry months of the year.

It was easy to snap up a big pile of photos at the show with my cellphone camera, but the quality of almost all of them was been pretty pathetic. Low indoor light = Slow exposures = Blurry photos. And controlling focus is really really touchy to nearly impossible.

I’m not about to give up my real cameras, but gosh these little devices are handy, like the convenient Hostess Twinkies of the photographic world. Amazing how much we’re willing to give up for the sake of convenience. Still, every now and then the photographic Hostess Twinkie goddess smiled on me and gave me sharp images that were focuses almost where I’d have focused with my camera.

Anyway, you might have guessed that where there’s a plant show, there’s usually a plant sale. But that’ll be the topic of a future post…