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.

8 thoughts on “you paid money for that?”

  1. Oh but the elephant’s foot does have unicorn glitter on it, from where I’m looking. My little plant didn’t last long ;~( I have a caudiciform Pelargonium, tiny flowers and substantial stems.

  2. So, I ask you, what should you spend your hard-earned money on instead? Yet another electronic gizmo? You did very well indeed, and in contrast to Ipod, Ipad, Ipud, these will get more and more admirable and exciting over time. What’s not to like?

  3. George, really–How many other plants can bring to mind Chinese erotica? (Did the species name have anything to do with the association?)

    EE, I was hoping that you were going to say that the elephant’s foot was easy to grow since it came from not too far from you. I’ll be careful not to overwater it during the upcoming summer. I saw some impressive Pelargonium species in the show. To think they’re closely related to other more classicially ornamental species…

    TM, I like how you put things into perspective! My office is suddenly crawling with iPads. I’m trying very hard to resist the irresistible but I probably don’t stand a chance. At least I can come home to these weird plants.

  4. All I can say is “The heart wants what the heart wants” You’re never going to be understood by everyone.. I do like succulents and you got some goodies here.
    A gardener has to have patience to get a good result and I know you have this from what I read about in your pitcher plant posts.

    In my case, I brought dozens of succulents from Fullerton up here when we moved to the mountains at 3000 feet and watched as most froze and melted away into black sludge. I’ve learned to ask for starts from the neighbors of any succulents that they have success with.

  5. Maggie, I have my unicorn glitter moments too!

    Sue, I’m sorry you lost some plants, including a few that you must have really enjoyed. The fact that succulent plant structures store up water seems to make for many of them not liking freezing temperatures. At least you’re finding that this doesn’t hold true for all of them, and that’d be an interesting post.

    Janet, I love the potential. Today I saw a larger specimen of yet another of the plants I bought. That my little plant could grow up to be something so weirdly impressive got me pretty excited.

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