August 2009

Environment24 Aug 2009 09:07 am

If green roofs have made there way to Buffalo, you know the fad has now reached trend status.


To see the latest green trend, look up. Dave Lanfear of Brayton Street is among those encouraging people not to overlook their roofs….

Today the roof on the one-story building is a neat, green oasis, planted with an assortment of sturdy sedum, some fine-textured grasses and even a few edibles.

OK, but it must be the only one in all of Buffalo, right?

The Lanfears’ roof, built last spring and summer, is no longer unique in the neighborhood. This year, Urban Roots acquired a small shed with a living roof that was built with recycled materials from Buffalo ReUse for the Junior League Show House.

Who knew? Because you know, I’ve been to Buffalo, and I can’t say it was at the forefront of green trends.

Science24 Aug 2009 07:04 am

According to the BBC, grow cactus!

Few plants can grow without soil and even fewer are capable of growing on nothing but bare rock….


The plants have evolved a symbiotic relationship with rock-dissolving bacteria…

The cacti even incorporate these rock-busting bugs into their seeds…

“When a seed falls in bats and bird droppings onto barren rock, it contains all the bacteria it needs to pioneer colonisation of that rock,” says Dr Bashan.


Misc23 Aug 2009 08:49 am

A haunting photo essay on feral houses in Detroit.


Questions22 Aug 2009 09:31 am

Hello Cactus Jungle,
My ultimate goal is to eventually turn my backyard into an all-cactus-succulent garden and I’d like to know if there are succulent vines that can climb walls. I have ugly concrete/ masonry walls with cracks and would like to find a vine that will not grow into cracks and make them into bigger cracks. For instance, climbing fig is not a good idea.

Could you recommend a succulent vine or two that can climb walls but will not dig into cracks?

Thanks for any advice.

P.S. I read about you in SF Chronicle.


Alas vines have two basic stratagies to climb, one is to glue themselves on to the vertical surface with sticky roots, or to either “twine” (grow in a spiral pattern so they cling and climb like a snake) or have “tendrils” which do the same thing. Sticky rooting plants are great at climbing walls since they can glue themselves to the rough surface or like you said by expanding cracks to help catch water and soil.

So if you want to build a trellis over you wall you can plant twining vines and they will climb the trellis without bonding to the wall, however they will be limited to the trellis. A good plant to consider is Senecio confusus “Mexican Flame Vine” which is not super succulent but is nice and drought tolerant and has great orange flowers. Another cool one is Dalechampia dioscoreifolia “Purple Bat Wings” which is a strange vine from Costa Rica in the Euphorbia family. It will get knocked back in a hard frost but usually comes back pretty quickly.

Take care,

Whippets22 Aug 2009 07:26 am

We’re back from the East Coast, and as you can see Jaxx is happy to see us.


Benjamin too.


California Native Plants20 Aug 2009 06:58 am


Fremontodendron mexicanum

Finally, another Flannel Bush that looks just like the other Flannel Bushes. This one gets 15ft. tall, and quick too.

Really, I can’t tell them apart. But whatever, they all have these giant yellow flowers, they’re all Cal. natives, they all are irritating to the touch. You know, the flannel bush!

Photography19 Aug 2009 06:56 am


Anigozanthos “Kanga Burgundy”

These are certainly a Bay Area favorite for drought-tolerant plants with a lot of summer blooms.

Questions&Reader Photos18 Aug 2009 12:53 pm

With a story to tell too.


Matt from Portland here. Your recent entry regarding the Myrtillocactus
Geometrizans has me writing you…again. It so happens that the MG was my
first and favorite cactus. Actually the start of my cactus interest. Had
one given to me from a friend who visited Arizona. They brought one back on
the plane to Portland carry on. At the time, 6 or so inches and crested.
Not a huge plant but still a unique looking carry-on item; don’t know if you
can pull that off anymore, this was back quite a few years. Never seeing
one before I was amazed. I kept it in a greenhouse. I had no other cactus
at the time just Jade plants. Anyway this plant turned into maybe 8-10
plants over a number of years. All crested and amazing. Sadly one year,
heavy rain got in the greenhouse and soaked them all. I couldn’t dry them
fast enough; it was a few days before I found them. Brown rot on all but
two. After the mass devastation, one in the greenhouse and one in the
kitchen window were left alive. Those two now are slowly repopulating the
collection. Attached is a happy survivor…


Anyway thanks for the memories. Never had flowers or berries on mine, but
maybe one day soon. How old or how long before one gets berries/flowers?

Sad to hear your larger plants are gone. I have a hard time finding large
healthy, “outrageous” MG plants.


Your crested myrtillo looks very healthy and happy. In general, crested varieties don’t bloom or fruit – you need an unmutated individual. Such are the choices we face in life: crest vs. fruit.

Photography18 Aug 2009 06:52 am


Coreopsis gigantea

Continuing in our series of baby plant photos, we have Southern California’s own succulent coreopsis with a profusion of yellow daisy flowers when they get larger than this, that is. And they’re in the Sunflower family, so you know they’re going to be pretty.

Winter-growing, so get them in the ground in the next couple months for maximum pleasure.

Photography17 Aug 2009 09:49 am


Agave parryi

These are one of our more popular agaves through the years. We try to keep some small ones in stock, but we usually grow them from offsets, and they get bigger than this before we take them from their parent, so we don’t often have small A. parryi’s at all. Until now. We’ve started growing agaves from seed. So now we can have them in every size.

Misc17 Aug 2009 07:07 am

I’m sure it will be a slow news week for cactus, with it being August and all.  So I’m off to New York for a few days.


You can be sure blogging will be slower than usual, but not absent! No, never absent! The photos don’t blog themselves!

Misc15 Aug 2009 05:44 pm

Looking ahead I see it’s going to be hot and humid on the east coast this coming week. Oh joy.

Nursery&Succulent Wreaths15 Aug 2009 11:47 am

Succulent Wreaths are shipping!


Whippets14 Aug 2009 10:55 am


Jason sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. I may have to teach that dog how to be a good nursery dog. I wonder how I can teach him to be a good nursery dog? Benjamin was just a natural.

That’s a Heuchera I was going to photograph.

Photography14 Aug 2009 08:44 am


Myrtillocactus geometrizans – We’ve sold out of our large plants, so we grew some babies. Eventually they’ll be large too. Edible fruit – actually quite delicious! – called Whortleberry, taste a lot like blueberries – but better!

I blogged the larger, blooming plant, here. But these smaller ones are nice too. Better color in the picture.

News14 Aug 2009 06:39 am

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, clearly the victim of a changing newspaper marketplace, recommends you plant agaves in your front yard.

(The) century plant, as agaves are commonly called, has many appealing qualities. Its spineless, sword-shaped, thickened leaves unfold in an open, slightly flattened rosette while maintaining a rigid conical center — all striking architectural elements….

In summer, provide ample water to keep agaves from shriveling and be sure to fertilize in poor soils. Although these are succulent species that store water, they must have sufficient supplies during the growing season so they can hoard it for later use if needed.

Good advice, but no pictures.

Environment13 Aug 2009 01:31 pm

(T)he renovation of West Virginia University’s Brooks Hall began in 2006… A few years later, 85 percent of the roof is vegetated, adding a splash of green to both the downtown campus and the university’s coffers….


The vegetation is known as sedums and succulents. They act as natural absorbents, holding, filtering and easing water into the drainage systems.

Yay! Nice picture.

Science13 Aug 2009 10:53 am

A newly discovered giant pitcher plant in the Philippines has given the BBC the vapours. Discovered on Mt. Victoria, it’s big enough to eat rats.


For some reason they’ve also included this photo of unidentified blue fungus. Science!


Photography13 Aug 2009 09:52 am


Ferocactus pottsi from the Chihuahuan desert is a very reliable bloomer. Not as brightly colored as some other fero’s, still, it is nicely striped. And as you can see, the buds are pretty too.

There don’t seem to be any common names associated with this, so I’m calling it the Leopard Barrel.

I wonder who this pottsi person was? Shall we look it up? It was originally named Echinocactus pottsii in 1850, and renamed F. pottsi in 1961. So that means the pottsi name is old, very old. There’s also an Opuntia and a Mammillaria named pottsii, also named by the same person who named this one, Salm Dyck.

And we’ve found our answer:

Named for John Potts, manager of a mine in Ciudad Chihuahua.

The intertubes are a wondrous thing. And it is a beautiful plant.

Quotes12 Aug 2009 03:36 pm

Kathleen and Don have been applying Pendulum to the Chinle Cactus and Succulent Society xeric garden at The Arboretum for several years. …

I don’t know what that means, or where that is, but I like the poetry of the line. If you click through and figure out the details, let me know in comments, OK? I don’t have time to read the whole article right now, what with a retail nursery business to run…

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