Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Puttering about

I've been busy for the past week cutting plants back, tidying things up, and even doing a little planting.  Between taking down the dead Auranticarpa rhombifolia and my end-of-summer pruning activities, we filled all three of our green recycling bins so I felt compelled to take a little break until the waste material is collected on Thursday.  In the meantime, I repotted some succulents and gave myself time off to check out a houseplant sale at the local botanic garden.

These are the spiffed up containers arranged outside the back door

The green pot contains Aeonium 'Jolly Green' and Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins'.  The tall blue pot holds Mangave 'Black Magic' and the small pot holds a Faucaria tigrina.

The green pot shown here is one I planted a couple of weeks ago with a Crassula, Echeveria, Kalanchoe, and a small Sedum.  The wide blue pot containing Aeonium 'Sunburst' and a variety of other succulents is still in need of sprucing up.  I can't remember the name of the Aloe in the Talavera-style pot.

I just upgraded Mangave 'Praying Hands' (left) to a larger pot.  Behind it is Mangave 'Aztec King' and on the right is Mangave 'Falling Waters'.


I also did a little cleanup in one area of the "bromeliad bed" in the front garden.  Only one section of the bed actually contains bromeliads.  The other two sections are filled with succulents.

I cleaned out most of the leaves that were covering this section.  In addition to assorted Echeverias, it contains Aeonium 'Lily Pad', Crassula orbicularis var rosularis, and several Haworthia cymbiformis.

The translucent leaves of Haworthia cymbiformis are tougher than they look, at least when provided adequate shade


Yesterday morning I took a drive over to the local botanic garden to check out the house plant sale they'd advertised on Instagram.  It looked impressive in the video they'd posted but sadly it was underwhelming when I visited in person.

To be fair, they may have sold out a lot of items following the video I saw late last week but the pickings were pretty slim at the time of my visit.  The woman manning the plant stand said she expected another shipment of plants later in the afternoon.

I took home just this unlabeled Vriesea (maybe Vriesea splendens)


After spending all of ten minutes in the plant sale area, I took a walk through the garden.  Here are some of the highlights from the Desert Garden area:

Like this Alluaudia humbertii, a lot of succulents were looking healthy and happy, presumably plumped up by the rain delivered by Tropical Storm Hilary last month

Cyphostemma juttae, aka Nambian grape (It's grapes are NOT edible as they're poisonous.)

The leaf-less Drimia maritima flowers were in full bloom

Two interesting Mammillaria clumps

Pedilanthus bracteatus, aka tall slipper plant, looking better than any others I've ever seen

I've seen Pseudobombax ellipticum 'Alba' (aka shaving brush tree) in bloom many times but I can't remember ever seeing it fully leafed out like this


Just outside the Desert Garden, I also saw something I'd never noticed before:

There's a mass of what I assume are Epiphyllums (orchid cacti) climbing up this tall palm tree.  It'll be an interesting sight when those plants bloom.


I'll be back to pruning later this week.  I really should get to work on the back slope but I misjudged the activity level among the fire ants earlier this week and have already accumulated almost a dozen bites.  I'm inclined to wait until the temperatures fall into the 60sF and the ants become less active.  The alternative is to hose myself down with insect repellent and put on the equivalent of a hazard suit.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. The potted area in photo one is lovely. Is Faucaria tigrina actually thorny, or just 'bumpy'? I find Aeonium 'Sunburst' extremely cheerful.
    Haworthia cymbiformis brings on a flood of memories: my aunt grew it in a pot, and as I toddler I loved pinching the 'juicy' leaves when she wasn't looking.
    Is your Drimia in bloom right now?
    The climbing cacti in the last photo is so fun. I have to assume it was intentionally planted and directed to grow up the palm tree. Catching it in bloom would be amazing.

    1. Faucaria is bumpy - it doesn't bite ;) I love Aeonium 'Sunburst' too and only wish it pupped half as well as my green Aeonium arboreum. I'm glad I could spark some fond memories with the Haworthia! I haven't checked on the Drimia recently - I should but that where the fire ants live :(

  2. Love that Haworthia. What a great shape. And I always enjoy seeing all the unusual desert plants that I don't often have a chance to see in person.

    1. I fell in love with that Haworthia the first time I bought one, and bought more of course! It's common names include cathedral window haworthia and windowed boats. Cymbiformis means boat-shaped.

  3. Fire ants! Dang, I guess I shouldn't complain about the little black ants that are everywhere right now. That desert garden looks amazing, especially for this time of year.

    1. Fire ants are the wasps of the ant world - focused, determined and mean. Their bites itch like crazy for a good week and the pus bubbles that develop after the bites take a ridiculously long time to clear. I hope you never meet one, tz.

  4. Amazing how repotting immediately makes plants looks better. Love that Talevara pot. They are available here but you would have to take out a second mortgage to afford one. Is there any way to rid yourself of fire ants? Some nasty chemical filled ant trap? They certainly take the fun out of gardening.

    1. That's not a real Talavera pot, Elaine; however, even those that mimic the style generally run higher than single-colored pots of similar size and finish. That one has a good-sized chip on its rim but I wasn't about to toss it out - I just place the pot so its chip isn't visible.

      There is a nasty chemical that's effective in killing ants, which my husband tried in a small area of the back slope last year. It appeared to be effective (at least until the rain came). However, it shouldn't be sprayed on plants and we've never been able to identify the precise location of the ant's nests. My Drimia maritima seem to have disappeared and I'm wondering if the spray affected the plants, although the ivy nearby the bulbs didn't seem to be effected :(

  5. Potted plant collection looks good. Hilary did right by them, too. Nice Mangaves--wow you got a 'Praying Hands'--cool! Good find on the Vriesea even if the plant sale wasn't impressive. Take care on that back slope. My bins are jam full--I'm waiting now for the WM truck to empty them. Any minute now.

    Have fun out there! Good gardening weather today.

    1. I got the Mangave 'Praying Hands' for a reasonable price from a mail order outlet called 'In the Country Garden & Gifts Online Store', HB. They're in Iowa but I've bought a variety of Mangaves from them. 'Praying Hands' was so tiny, I almost missed it within the packing material. It's been a relatively slow grower too. I've had it for almost 2 years but perhaps left it in a smaller pot than it needed for too long.

  6. I love love LOVE the shots of the plant climbing the palm trunk—plants growing on other plants is one of my favorite things. As for the fire ants, ugh, I am sorry. I found myself trekking out across many large patches of lawn while visiting the Fling gardens (so much lawn!!!), always in flip-flops and praying I wasn't going to encounter the dreaded fire ants, or any other biting creatures, or snakes! Thankfully I did not.

    1. Gerhard says the climbing cactus is probably Hylocereus rather than Epiphyllum, which makes sense; however, if correct, that means they're likely to be night-blooming so the flowers won't be visible during the garden's regular open hours. I might have to attend their light show!

      I'd heard that fire ants were prevalent in Texas but I was shocked to learn (the hard way) that they're in California too. Nasty creatures!


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