Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cactus Jungle

Part of my continuing series on our October trip to California…
After spending several hours ogling plants at the Berkeley Botanical Gardens I was ready to visit a local nursery and buy buy buy! Cactus Jungle was my destination.
It didn’t quiet turn out the way I had hoped (I didn’t buy a single thing). But it was a great nursery to visit and took me to a part of town I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to, where I discovered a CB2 and a Crate & Barrel outlet store. Cactus Jungle targets the Bay Area shopper and prides themselves on their locally grown plants. Makes sense…if you can grow these beauties in your own back yard why would you want to bring them in from elsewhere?
Many of their plants are already potted up in terra cotta pots, which for me is not a plus. I fear it adds to the cost, definitely adds to the traveling weight, and results in waste because I don’t really care for the look (so they would have to be repotted anyway). But, I bet it’s a huge positive for most of their customers. After all terra cotta is one of the best container materials for agaves because it’s virtually impossible to over water anything in a clay pot. Another bonus, since they are already potted their customer doesn’t have to go home and risk poking an eye out, or breaking of a sculptural leaf, replanting something.

Agave americana
Everything was very healthy and large, in fact that was another reason why I didn’t purchase. Most everything I considered purchasing was too big to haul around with us for the rest of our vacation, since we were only 5 days into the 14 day adventure. If we had been headed straight back to Portland after Berkeley I would have definitely bought a couple things. Madagascar Palm
Now that I’m looking at these pictures I am wondering how I passed on this beautiful specimen? (Agave scabra ??)
When I enquired as to the hardiness of a particular agave I was told all their agaves are good to 25 degrees, except the tropical Agave attenuata which needs to be protected in the 30’s. I’d never heard the attenuata referred to as tropical but it makes sense.
Since getting home from vacation and looking them up on line I’ve discovered they have a lively blog which covers everything from a story on the agaves at Alcatraz to a post about danger garden and the discarded lobby plant (Cactus Jungle is where I saw the Vriesea imperialis that helped me identify mine), plus they frequently update it and answer people’s questions. Looks like it could be a great agave knowledge resource!
Cyphostemma juttae
Right across the street from the nursery was this huge Philodendron bipinnatifidum (at least I think that's what it is...)
While shopping at CB2 and the Crate & Barrel Outlet I noticed these amazing violet flowers on a vine, I have no idea what they are but they are beautiful. Bougainvillea… And these Leucadendron, a favorite cut flower of mine and here they are growing in street-side planters. On the way back to our hotel we stopped for gas. And WOW! Growing right there by the gas station was a Callistemon tree! Not a shrub but a whole row of big beautiful trees! I love Berkeley.


  1. So what you're saying is that the Madagascar Palm wouldn't have fit in Andrews car? Huh...weird.

  2. I never understood why Cactus Jungle puts a majority of plants in terra cotta.
    It tends to make me feel the same way as you, why do I want to pay extra for a pot that I do not want.

    Glad you had a chance to wander down 4th street. Did you get a chance to visit The Gardener and the Builders Book Source ?
    Two of my favorite shops on that street.

    The purple flower : Tibouchina.

  3. the Agave gypsophila is a standout! love those cactus gardens so much...maybe because for a portlander it's like visiting another planet.

  4. How bad do I wish there was a place around here where I could get big agaves like that! Thanks for pointing out their blog, it's been added to my reader. I don't know how I've gone so long not knowing about it.

  5. D+N, if we'd have had Nicks truck...oh boy!

    DD Michelle, I did visit The Gardener and if I am thinking of the right place the Builders Book Source was closed. It was a really charming little stretch of shops and such. Thanks for the ID! We saw them in Oakland too, such beautiful color.

    ricki, you're right. A dry planet...unlike the one we are currently on.

    Megan, can you imagine? Of course then I would need a greenhouse for sure. Did you vote for your favorite cactus hat? I voted for the Etsy version myself.

  6. Nice photos! To add a note - we don't charge extra for the terra cotta - we pot into clay because it breathes better, and since we are growing all the plants ourselves we grow them in clay instead of plastic.

  7. AnonymousJune 10, 2010

    found this site browsing the net,,,thought i'd help with some id...

    violet flower is Tibouchina urvilleana - Princess Flower


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