Friday, January 20, 2017

Adding to my brother's garden, a visit to the Old West Cactus Farm

My brother had heard the Old West Cactus Farm, just north of Phoenix, was a good place to find a bargain. He wanted a few things to add to his new garden so we hit the road.

Looking at their website I wasn't quite sure what we'd find. But there was a great selection and many different sizes (not all 5-gallon pots).

We never did find the 1/2 off plants advertised by the sign though. Not that it mattered once we started looking...

Nothing was labeled and nothing was priced.

While the staff was helpful I also got the feeling they didn't know the plants very well, I asked for a couple of things by name and they didn't know what I was referring to. Things we later found on our own.

I guess we asked the right questions though, and thus were identified as potential collectors and taken into the special greenhouse to see the owners personal stash. I think he likes crested cactus...

See it's not all large sized plants!

I'm assuming (for the right price) they'll dig up the planted Saguaros? Lots of pottery...

And plenty of "old west" kitsch.

But of course it was all about the plants for me!

Oh my!

My brother, checking if it was safe to go inside.

What do you think?

Harvesting seed or bulbils? Or maybe just for decoration?


This place just went on and on and on. I was in heaven and soaking it all up, especially because I was getting on a plane later that afternoon and heading back to rainy Portland.

Someday I'll have a house with a fencepost cactus (Stenocereus marginatus. (syn. Pachycereus marginatus)) fence.

I wonder how often the plastic gets replaced?

Ouch! Ya. I wasn't looking down and felt a sharp pain. If you look close you'll see two red dots further up my leg. There were about a dozen more. Ants had attacked me earlier in our visit, also ouch.

Hmmm...what's in the plastic container?

Okay, so what did we buy? Here's the haul. The Agave macroacantha on the far left is mine. They nicely bare-rooted it for me, to make it easier to get on the plane. The baby Saguaro and two barrel cactus at the back are for my brother's garden. The Agave americana var. medio-picta 'Alba' (white stripes) is also his.

So cute, and so mean!

I should have asked him for that little pup...

Mine! Oh and there were a coupld of pups in there too.

This was our real find of the day though. My sister-in-law fell in love with it, then they told her they wouldn't sell it because the owner wanted to propagate it (even though it wasn't in the special greenhouse but rather out in the fields). She didn't give up though and eventually they gave in. So what is it? Well after consulting with the experts, including Gerhard, I got a name...Agave sisalana ‘Variegata’.

As it turned out my flight was delayed by an hour or so, while I waited to board I got planting updates. They went to work that evening and got everything planted before I even boarded the plane!

Weather Diary, January 19: Hi 52, Low 33 / Precip .71 (? I need to find a better source for 24-hr precip)

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

My brothers garden...

I first visited Phoenix on a business trip in, oh...1994-ish, and then again the following year. I fell deeply in love with the desert. In 2000 my brother, Darin, had the nerve to up and move there — several visits followed and I fell deeper in love. While not a gardener per se, my brother has an above average interest in plants, and the landscape in general, especially around his home. His garden became my desert garden and I still have many Agave pups that he gifted me over the years.

Well, that was then. He and his family moved in 2015 and it was killing me that over a year went by and I still hadn't seen their new home and garden. Finally this last October I had a chance to visit. It took me by surprise just how much space they had. A huge home and spacious lot for not much more than our small home and tiny lot in Portland. Yes, this has sent my mind to thinking about a move...unfortunately Andrew doesn't feel the same.

The Pygmy Date Palms (Phoenix roebelenii), are not reliably hardy in Phoenix but since they're up against the house and under a significant overhang they're fine.

And quite lovely..

Tecoma capensis, I believe? They have several.

And the first of many Mesquite trees.

This little guy is another Mesquite they planted.

I asked why not a Palo Verde and was told they make too much of a mess. Whatever... (eye roll...).

Oh my, those are beauties!

But before we look at the mature specimens how about those small Agaves? They're all transplants from his previous garden.

This picture made me laugh. I was focusing on the plants but got myself with the camera to my face, and my brother, probably touching the bill of his baseball cap — in between us the Saguaro shadow. On the far left is my nephew.

This bad boy is the Saguaro, also a transplant from his previous garden. Not an easy thing to do, but he'd planted it as a tiny baby and now it's over 5-ft tall.

The monster Ocotillo and purple Opuntia were already there, when they moved in.

What a beauty!

An old flower...

And fresh foliage.

Oh and a few small pieces came home with me. I'm still trying to root them.

Another old Mesquite.

Their front yard was completely open to the street, when they moved in. Darin, and my sister-in-law Nellie, had the low stucco wall added for delineation. I'm standing in the street to take this photo.

He's planted several Hesperaloe between the wall and the street.

Now we've moved into to their backyard. Lawn! Yes even in Phoenix. That's another huge mature Mesquite. In the corner is a lemon tree, we'll see it again in just a bit.

Closer to the house is their shade pavilion (look familiar?) Darin built it last summer, and yes, he's a BBQ'er.

I don't remember the name of this handsome flowering shrub...

But the flowers look very much like a Solanum, don't you think?

This beautiful tree is an orange, inherited as an overgrown mess, Darin has done quite a bit of pruning to bring it back to a proper tree form.

Love those spikes!

And especially the fruit. He had a delicious grapefruit in the garden of his previous home, I'll miss its amazing fruit! I hope to visit when these are ripe...

Bougainvillea! It wouldn't be the desert without Bougainvillea.

Thankfully there's an Aloe too, also inherited.

The lemon tree, in the process of being pruned into shape...I think it's looking quite nice.

And as I see all over Phoenix there were also several palm seedlings. It boggles my mind.

Looking back towards the house, and the shade pavilion...

And this! Purple Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' — it's not an annual in Phoenix.

What a visit! It was only 4 days but it was a wonderful experience. In addition to the Desert Botanical Garden and Arcosanti I also managed to visit a few nurseries, one of them with my brother and family, the Cactus Farm, where we bought a few new plants for their garden. I'll share images from that visit tomorrow. In the meantime here's a fabulous old wheelbarrow my sister in law bought at a yard sale while I was there. I must admit I was jealous and wanted to take it home with me.

My nephew however, he had other ideas...

Weather Diary, January 18: Hi 46, Low 32/ Precip .75(?)

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.