Monday, November 23, 2009

San Marcos Growers

Part of my continuing series on our October trip to California…
While in Santa Barbara I was able to visit San Marcos Growers. Since they are a wholesale operation I didn’t think I would be permitted, but I emailed them in advance, explained my agave passion and promised not to try to buy anything. I just wanted to drool, or I mean look. So either they saw a kindred spirit, or wanted to see what kind of freak used so many exclamation points (!!!) while explaining their love of agaves!! And their desire to visit the nursery!!

This is charming little building is the office, where I was asked to check-in.
Walking in I was a little intimidated, like Dorothy walking up to the great and powerful Oz. Please your Excellency, grant me my request to walk through your fields of Aloes, Agaves and Cordylines, (oh my!)

I really did feel like I was walking into The Land of Oz. All of these huge amazing plants were for sale!!!! Living near this nursery would be very very dangerous.

They had just put together this enticing agave display right near the office. Agave 'Joe Hoak' is pretty much my latest obsession.
Agave ghiesbreghtii, you’ve got a love a plant this determined to grow. Look at the little pup peaking out the bottom!
And this one is no slacker… although it must have bloomed recently as the mother plant is dead.Furcraea macdougalii, in the middle
This is one of those plants that I should be able to identify by now, is it related to Sonchus acaulis? Can you imagine filling up one of these and having it pull up in front of your house?
Or even one of these little vans? All of these gems were in an ‘off-limits’ area marked sold. Some lucky person…
Agave 'Blue Glow'…handy that I actually got to see it glowing Look at this Agave attenuatta mess. My made-up explanation is that somebody called and asked if they wanted to rescue a field of agaves that was going to be dug up for a construction project.
Agave cupreata, in mass...
Agave franzosinii
And a group of little Agave franzosinii
Sharkskin Agave
Aloe barberae, Tree Aloe
Aloe 'Hercules' (who named this plant?)
Aloe plicatilis, Fan Aloe
Aloe speciosa, Tilt-head Aloe
Boophone disticha Oxbane (I think)
Flower of the Erythrina crista-galli, Cockspur Coral Tree
Kalanchoe luciae Paddle Plant
Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta Sport' - don't these leaves look like they would be soft, like a Hosta? Nope! They are more "agave-like"...wishin' I had one...
Aloe or Agave? I am not sure. Cordys and Flax
Not sure what this beauty is, amazing though...Looking towards their planted gardens Agave franzosinii
Agave franzosinii with a 6’2” husband for scale
Another huge specimen And another of my new fav’s….which since I do not know their real name I am calling Agave 'marmoleum' And I’m not proud to admit I pushed the limits of their kindness and asked to buy something. Remember the little aloe that got away from me at Flora Grubb? Well it was an Aloe marlothii…
How cute are they? My heart was heavy with the idea of walking away from them again. I asked and they were kind enough to sell me one. I’m sure I was testing their patience, and dealing with me was taking away from what they should have been doing, after all they are a wholesale nursery and do not sell to the public.
Of course the bad person in me was thinking….”uhm, well, why stop there! Maybe I should run back out and grab a few more things….”
But that would have been wrong.
So I didn’t.
But I wish I would have…


  1. Loree, you crack me up! "Puleeeze just let me visit...I PROMISE I won't try to buy anything."
    I have loved their web site for awhile now. How cool that you got to visit!

    So, I'm wondering what those upright, slim plants might have been in your already sold-off limits pic. And I love those aloe plicatilis and the kalanchoe luciae.

    I'm so happy you got your cute little Aloe marlothii. And you just keep on using all the exclamation points you want. After all, the danger garden just wouldn't be the same without them!!!!

  2. I love the uniformity of the Sharkskin Agave in the wooden pots! I think I just fell in love with the Boophone disticha Oxbane - if that is what it is called! :) Andrew looks very hard core and 'down to business' - like he rides a motorcycle - in his picture!

  3. I am in a state of envy. We have a very limited agave palette available here, but at least we can grow some. All of these you have shown look like a piece of sculpture. I love the Boophone.

  4. OMG-that was like being in agave and aloe heaven! Glad you got your marlotti. Love the franzosinii and sharkskin, among others.

  5. Hi!!! Loree!!! What a fun trip you must have had. My favorites: Kalanchoe Paddle Plant, Blue Glow Agave, Aloe Tilt head but they're all amazing plants. . . I've done this too, when nursery shopping, feel like I must be so annoying to the owners but you know, I think they enjoy it. It has to give them a lot of pleasure to visit with a gardener who is as passionate about their plants as they are.
    I would have tried to push my luck too. No discard/throwaway pile?

  6. Sometimes being pushy is necessary. I'm glad you got to see the place and even buy a plant. Thanks for the tour.

  7. Hi! I found you over at the spring to twig blog. Wow! You're blog is an amazing eyeful! I live in the midwest now, but spent many years in the southwest and your pictures make me homesick for the dryer climes.

    And I love your entry for the Gardens Gone Wild November picture contest. Good luck!

  8. Hi Loree,
    Glad you could visit our nursery. Thank you for your nice comments and your shared obsession with Agave. I thought I might fill in a few questions you posed.

    The Agave you noted "must have bloomed recently as the mother plant is dead" is a compact form of Agave filifera. The main rosette had not actually flowered but curiously had just dried up and died - fortunately the plant pupped profusely and will live on.

    The Sonchus acaulis relative is Sonchus canariensis.

    We always hope to fill up the large trucks that make deliveries up and down the state. The smaller van is actually that of one of our outside salesmen. He takes these samples from nursery to nursery hoping to encourage retail nurseries to place orders that would fill up the larger trucks.

    The Agave attenuata mess is our propagation stock on Agave attenuata 'Nova' (AKA 'Fred Boutin'). These old boxes do look bad but they produce a lot of beautiful young new plants. More on this great plant on our website at:

    On the naming of Aloe 'Hercules' - this Aloe barberae x A. dichotoma hybrid was likely named by Kevin Coniff. More information on it can be found on our website at

    "Aloe or Agave? I am not sure" is Aloe striata

    "Not sure what this beauty is" is Dracaena draco

    "Agave 'marmoleum'" is Agave americana 'Striata'

    Thanks again for your visit and nice posting.
    Randy Baldwin
    San Marcos Growers

  9. Whoa! What a stunning virtual visit.
    Have a lovely holiday!

  10. You see? Randy's comments make it clear that brave, dedicated and enthusiastic is a far cry from pushy and annoying. I'm betting that they would have sold you anything, but your restraint was admirable...I guess (what, no Boophone?)

  11. I need to put you on the case when I want to go somewhere I'm not exactly allowed. Good work! Best nursery ever, without all the pesky public competing for the plants.

  12. Jane, isn't their website just the best resource? I love it. I'm not sure about the upright slim plants...maybe a Furcraea macdougalii?

    D+N, have you told Nick you're in-love with a Boophone Oxbane?

    Les, aren't they amazing? I just want to hug them all...which of course would be rather stupid.

    Nicole, you are was heavenly!

    ICQB, hello! Thank you for the kind words, and I completely understand your homesick-ness. I get that way and I've never even lived there.

    Pam, I am so glad I asked. You just never know!

    Grace, no discard pile that, I saw...I bet the employees all have amazing gardens!

    Randy, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and fill in the blanks. I was just fantasizing when I mentioned one of the big trucks pulling up in front of a house! So if I managed to get the nurseries up here in Oregon interested in San Marcos plants you'd send one up here, right? (kidding...sort of...)

    BATGT, thank you! And I hope you do the same!

    ricki, I have a new be the SMG Oregon territory outside salesman, er, woman!

    Megan, imagine if Patricia and I were both on the case!


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