June 2011

Plants15 Jun 2011 03:25 pm

Echium wildpretii is a biennial. It grows a big rosette one year, and then it shoots up and flowers the next year. We’ve also seen some of them branch in the 2nd year and have mini-bloom stalks sticking off the side of the main one. Interesting! Anyway, then after blooming, it dies. If you’ve done your job well, providing all the needed bees to pollinate, then you should have seed setting for next year just fine.

These are hardy down into the low 20s, but need a lot of sun, especially here in coastal areas. They are from the Canary Islands, like all good Mediterranean Climate plants that aren’t from California or Greece.

They are deer proof, drought-tolerant and clay-soils tolerant so you know you can grow them yourself. I hope you’ve already planted yours for next year’s bloom spike.

This lovely specimen is in front of Tippet Studios, the animation studio that brought you the animated special effects of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

More Echium here too.

California Native Plants15 Jun 2011 06:34 am

Also known as Fleabane

Erigeron glaucus is a reliable California coastal bloomer. Easy to grow, lives for years, spreads out a bit. It’s a Northern Cal. native, up through the Oregon coast, so it can handle clay soils and sandy soils. High winds too. It’s an exposure-junky, although that’s not to say a bit of afternoon sun won’t make it happy. I love double negatives! Did I just say it likes a bit of afternoon shade, or not? Hard to say.

Will be found an attractive plant by the butterflies and the bees.

News14 Jun 2011 11:39 am

Apparently “Cactus” is the phrase of choice for prank callers. So much so that the very act of prank calling is now called “Cactus.”


A “Cactus” has become the PLA’s mascot, as well as catchphrase. The origin of the word dates back to an old prank call by RBCP, where he would say nothing but the word “cactus,” over and over. In common usage, It can be stated with a question mark “Cactus?” or as an exclamation “Cactus!” Similar “Cactus” themed prank calls are often made by PLA members. (PLA issue #35, 1995)

At least if Wikipedia is to be believed. And I do. Believe. Wikipedia.

Questions14 Jun 2011 06:33 am


Wondering if u can give me some advice on how to save this plant. We have been putting it in our office with minimal sun light. We sometimes forget to water it for a few weeks. All the stems seem to have dropped and laid horizontally and looks pale. Any advice?

Btw, we bought it from you about 2 years ago. Thanks.


The Stapelia needs more sun and some fertilizer. It’s also time to repot to a bigger pot. If you want to bring it by, we can repot it for you or set you up with the right soil and pot, or fertilizer.

But you should definitely get it a little more sun. Not too much more, but maybe an hour or two of direct morning sun.


Berkeley Gardens13 Jun 2011 02:28 pm



Questions13 Jun 2011 09:47 am

I want to cover our sloped hill with your beautiful succulents. We just had 30 year old juniper cut off at the soil level and hauled away. Would it work to bring in two or three inches of some sort of sandy soil to put on top? What sort would you recommend?
ps I LOVE your blog!

Thanks Heidi!

Meanwhile, Hap answers her question…


Since it is a hillside, it is perhaps easier to add fast draining soil to each planting hole rather than the entire area. Of course that is dependent on the severity of the slope, if it is not too steep spreading a new layer is easier, though requires more soil. I do not recommend sandy soil, but rather “chunky” where lava and or pumice are the majority of the mix. If you are local, you can use our Cactus and Succulent soil, which we do offer in bulk, if not you can find a local source of 1/4 inch lava or pumice (Don’t use Perlite, it is too light weight and “floats” so you end up with it all on the surface and blowing around like snow… as well as being made in a blast furnace so the carbon load is nuts) and dig it in to your soil at 50/50 ratio. Since there was a juniper there for a long period, your soil is likely very acidic, you might want to test it so you can see if you need to add some oyster shell or lime to bring the pH up.

Happy planting!

California Native Plants13 Jun 2011 06:52 am

Malacothamnus palmeri is actually called Bush Mallow. This California native has hairy leaves, thus being a deer resistent option. Native to the Central Coast, it’s naturally found as far north as Monterey. But it’s a reliable yearly bloomer with reblooms in the fall, so it has been planted successfully farther north than Monterey. Why, one could even claim to have seen it in the Berkeley area.

Photography12 Jun 2011 03:35 pm

Echinocactus grusonii


News12 Jun 2011 07:27 am

Fog? Shade? Hot Sun? The Chronicle has a good article about defining terms and determining what you can grow. Here’s a sample, but click through for the whole thing.

The short answer is that you can grow leafy and root crops, such as lettuce and beets, if you have at least four hours of sunlight, while fruiting ones, like squash and tomatoes, need six hours or more. However, I have found that a number of crops can grow with fewer than four hours of sun….

In the first situation, known as “full” or “deep shade,” it isn’t likely any food crop would thrive, while in the second, known as “open shade,” some leafy crops, such as parsley or arugula, will do just fine….

And what about all that summer fog? Photosynthesis is definitely slower on low-light days. But a certain number of such days are factored into the standard advice for growing plants….

The same number of hours of sunlight on a cool coastal day will allow for less plant growth than they would on a warm inland day…. At the coast, even full all-day sun is unlikely to be enough to let a melon plant grow to maturity and develop sweet fruit.

On the other hand, on extremely hot days, photosynthesis will shut down, and plants will not be able to use all the sunlight they get. This is why we hear, for many plants, the advice to “grow in full sun at the coast, partial shade inland.”

So there you go. It’s a long excerpt from a much longer article.

Up next we have a backyard farm tour of Oakland and Berkeley so you can see for yourself how others do it. That Chronicle, with such helpful information!

Next Sunday, the institute will offer tours of five backyard farms of varying sizes to demonstrate various sides of urban sustainability and show people how they can use the land they have….

The Institute of Urban Homesteading’s Urban Farm Tours take place at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. next Sunday (June 19) in Oakland and Berkeley. Choose up to three farms to visit; each tour lasts up to 45 minutes. $5 per tour; $3 for children under 12. To register and receive maps and directions, contact the institute at www.iuhoakland.com/farmtour.html

In case you were wondering, we do still have lots of organic veggie starts at the store, and we will keep carrying them throughout the summer and fall too since we can really grow them year round around here, if the articles above are any indication.

Photography11 Jun 2011 04:07 pm

It’s very windy this afternoon.

Echinopsis peruvianus


California Native Plants11 Jun 2011 02:32 pm

Mimulus “Eleanor” has some very interesting colors.


Berkeley Succulents11 Jun 2011 10:31 am


Addison Street
Aloe saponaria

Not a full Berkeley succulent garden, but a nice rock/aloe combo.

News10 Jun 2011 01:30 pm

Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society Show and Sale, July 23 through July 31

Show and sale hours are noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 24 through July 31. The event is included with Garden admission. Novice gardeners can begin to grow their cacti and succulent collections with a variety of inexpensive and easy-to-care-for plants. Collectors and serious enthusiasts will enjoy browsing many unusual and hard-to-find varieties.

I’ll keep it in mind.

Whippets10 Jun 2011 09:14 am

When Jaxx and Amica came to visit.


Bonus link to Care.com’s Whippet care page. They’ve asked for my opinion. Uh oh.

California Native Plants10 Jun 2011 06:50 am

Dudleya hassei

I love Santa Catalina Island! OK, well, no. I’ve never been there. I’ve never been to the Channel Islands at all. I have been to Santa Barbara though.

Misc09 Jun 2011 02:44 pm

9th Street
Asclepias curassavica


Photography09 Jun 2011 11:06 am

This unnamed-probably-hybridized-Echinopsis photo is one of the best bloom photos I’ve ever taken. Unlike the tiny yellow iris flower picture 2 posts down, this one has had no photoshopping. I have another picture of this one where the cactus stem is more in focus, but this shot has a richer range of colors in the flower petals. I could photoshop them together, but I think the out-of-focus cactus stem is OK for this one. Click for bigger.

News09 Jun 2011 10:00 am

How to care for indoor succulents in Tennessee is a question I often get asked. Finally, the Chattanooga Times Free Press has the answers. I’ve reduced their 5 tips to bullet points for you, but you can click through for the full Tennessee tale.

1. Make sure succulents have full sun to part shade.

That’s kind of a broad standard that will hold true for most plants in the world. Yay!

2. Do not overwater.

Now I love this piece of advice, because it’s so true. If I had to tell you one thing to take away from this article, it’s bullet point number 2.

3. Use a good-quality “soil-less” soil.


4. Recommended varieties: Aeonium Tip Top, Dyckia Hybrid Burgundy Ice, Echeveria Nodulosa, Sedum Coppertone, Echeveria Black Prince and Kalanchoe Thyrisifolia

I don’t know why those particular varieties, many of which are patented, are the recommended varieties for Chattanooga. I suppose it’s all good. Of course, species names should be lowercase and cultivar names, especially the patented ones, should be in quotes. There I go getting all pedantic on you again. Shame on me.

5. Planting pointer: Mix them with hardy succulents (not listed) for different textures.

Now that’s just not very helpful. Pictures would have been helpful though.

California Native Plants09 Jun 2011 07:46 am

Sisyrinchium californicum

This tiny yellow flower is hard to photograph. The yellow is very dense and the flower is very small. Here’s my secret: (shhh, it’s photoshop.) I isolated that baby from the rest of the picture and tweaked it up good.

Here’s how it looked straight out of the camera.


News08 Jun 2011 11:55 am

Southfield Nurseries, of Bourne Road, Morton, won ‘best in show’ for an exhibition of cacti at the Spring Gardening Show at Malvern.

They received their award from the Duke of Gloucester.

That is very good news for the Bourne Road Cactus Growers of Morton. Nice Echinopsises, too. For some reason the local paper didn’t take a picture of the award winning exhibition, but instead after the show had closed went to Bourne Road in Morton and took a picture of the growing greemhouse with the blooming Echinopsises and some Cleistocactus and Echinocactus in the background too.

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