Monday, May 17, 2010

I didn’t buy a single agave

It was with a tinge of sorrow that I realized, as we drove away, that I didn’t buy a single Agave at this year’s Rare Plant Research open house! Rest assured it’s not because my agave love has dimmed, but the selection this year just didn’t offer any new, beautiful, must haves. The ‘hot’ plant this year? Interestingly the Bromeliad family captured our imagination and wallet.

These two striking Neoregelia hybrid’s called out to us. We grabbed both figuring that we would decide later which one would come home with us.
Funny thing, they both did.
Then Andrew spotted this spiky little Dyckia. I was going to be good this year…just sticking to the short list, but thanks to support and encouragement from the husband we came home with the Dyckia too.
On my list….I really wanted another ginger plant; I’d bought one a couple years back but planted it in a really bad spot. Not enough light or moisture and it finally died. Now I had the perfect spot and one with a bloom is a bonus! Hedychium Tara…
Also on the list, an Ensete maurelii. Unlike SOME PEOPLE I KNOW who managed to score several for the bargain price of $2.50 each I had yet to lay my eyes on a single one this year. I simply cannot go through summer without one. Problem solved.
In the confusion to get the tender things inside during our freak cold snap last December I completely overlooked my Colocasia collection. Three fabulous old plants dead. Time to start rebuilding and this Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’ is the first one. I love the dramatic coloring.
So what didn’t we buy? Well….I certainly could have came home with any one of these Agave americana variegata….they were all so lovely. But I’ve already got several.
Same for the Agave attenuata…
Striking banana leaves….
And one even with bananas!
These were tagged as Orange Aloes. But they are mostly green???
I believe this is an Albizia? is an Acacia (thanks to my alert readers!)
I just loved it in this turquoise container. What a great combination!
There were so many fabulous Bromeliads, including the one I mentioned last week, the blooming Alcanterea imperialis, it had been moved outside of the greenhouse…you can see why!
They had another, smaller version, next to it for sale. Only $99…
Here is one of the same type we purchased blooming!
So many colors!
Desert Rose
Dyckia mix
Erica cerinthoides...
And it’s flower...
Kniphofia bending to great the sun...
These cute little guys just wanted to come home with us, but I kill plants with a caudex, every time.
Shortly after we moved to Portland our local newspaper ran a special series called “the faces of meth” it included many terrifying before and after pictures of addicts. Andrew labeled this patch of Prickly Pears “the faces of meth at RPR”. These guys just didn’t look healthy.
They’ve definitely fallen on some hard times.
Or maybe they just stayed out too late last night drinking?
Like previous years we were welcome to tour the private garden around the home of the nursery owners. How do you suppose they protect these Bromeliads in the winter?
Tall Yucca tree by the pond about to bloom (spike on the left)…
Boojum in a container…
The pond complete with a canoe! I imagine lots of twilight paddling around the pond.
A second pond was full of tiny tadpoles…
And I thought I would finish this post with a photo taken as we returned home and pulled up in front of our garage…or not….actually this is still the home of the RPR owners. Whom I really want to thank for again opening their nursery to the public. It must be such a headache for you, but we really do appreciate it!


  1. Wow, loads of fabulous plants-yes, that's quite disappointing about the agaves-but I see Plant Delight's nursery have some that are now on my must get list. The nursery here is getting a shipment this week so I hope I get some lovely drought tolerant plants.

  2. This is my first year for the Dyckias - have been enjoying them; your new addition looks quite nice. And I keep getting tempted by Bromeliad posts. I'm worried about cold tolerance and moisture requirements - how do you do it?

  3. Great post! I felt like I was there! I agree turquoise pots are stunning! I'd also take that house anyday!

  4. As Liz Lemon might say, "I want to go to there..." A trip to a place like that might turn even a soft-plant person like me into a devotee of spikes. Looks like you got some great new friends to bring home, especially that gorgeous bromeliad. I would have thought indoors-only for that, but I know you will give it your best shot! How did you pass up that red-mottled bamboo? Do you already have one I've forgotten about??

  5. Nicole, I think it will be awhile before I order agaves online again...they are just so small! But that said I can't wait to see what you get!!!

    RBell, well the Bromeliads will live outside in the late spring thru early fall and then they will winter-over as house plants. Moisture isn't really an issue here as I can easily toss a little water on as needed. You should try a couple!!!

    Laura, yea! That's exactly what I was striving for...I wanted you all to come along!

    Karen, I am certain you (and Liz) could find make things to take home with you! Indoors in the winter for sure on the Bromeliad...that's why they both went in containers. But they can be outdoors for at least 6 months of the year. Are you referring to the red mottled banana? It's very very cool! I did have on a couple years ago and loved it but decided to just go with the maurelii this year. It's leaves called out a little louder!

  6. AnonymousMay 17, 2010

    Loree~~ You give the BEST virtual garden tours! Hats off, girl!

    No Agave purchases means you've already got all the good ones. Pretty soon you'll be the one having the sale. Were you tempted to scoop up a few tadpoles? I would have been.

    Looks almost like "the FECES of meth." Ick. They probably just hate being grown in containers. Poor things.

    I want that Albizia. Or is it an Acacia? Love its pot too. Also, I must get me a Agave attenuata.

    Um, save a few dollars for Fry Road. They've got lots of banana and Colocasia species.

    I found a really cool, [tender I'm sure] Yucca at Home Despot. That's three so far this year. You have that effect on people, you know.

  7. I have the same picture of the bananas! Those were great to see. I had a weekend foster child with me and she was so excited to see how bananas grow.

  8. You get to go to the coolest places to buy plants. I think you showed great restraint.

  9. Bromeliads are what's happening down here too. I brought one home from the Huntington sale but don't expect to go too crazy with them since I'm maxed out with pots. I found one recently I had stuck in the crotch of a tree last year, forgotten (and dead). I'm thinking that albizia might be an acacia.

  10. My trip was too rushed. I'm enjoying it much better through your lens. I came home without any agaves, too. A replacement A. americana variegata was on my list, but then it seemed like a lot off trouble when I can probably get one closer to home at garden fever.
    If it's any consolation, those bargain bananas are really tiny, yours is much better.

  11. I believe the turquoise-pot plant is purple-leaf acacia (Acacia baileyana var. purpurea), an Aussie native: . I tried it in my garden last year, but it wasn't happy. It wouldn't grow, though I gave it the sunny location and excellent drainage it supposedly wanted. And then our hard freezes knocked it back so hard, and it looked so scraggly, that I gave up on it and ripped it out. Sigh. I had such hopes for it, but it was not to be.

  12. It was a glorious day if nothing else. I found it frustrating, but understandable, that it was disorganized; e.g. many plants without I.D., many without pricing, many not for sale, etc. Seeing as they are mainly wholesale and mail-order and not set up for retail business i can see why that happens.

    Never the less, there were lots of interesting plants. I only came away with one -- Musella lasiocarpa. A tiny one, so i hope it makes it through the winter. I almost picked up one of the Colocasia as well -- but passed.

    You certainly have more "container energy" than i do. I'm more of a stick it in the ground -- if it makes it great -- if not, oh well. I certainly don't have the patience you do to move pots around. Good on ya!

  13. Patricia C, Portland ORMay 18, 2010

    I will never ever wantonly buy and distribute bargain $2.50 bananas again without thinking of you. If I can remember, which can be a problem, because I get pretty excited over bargain plants and can't always think things entirely through...

  14. Grace, thank you! I do find it difficult sometimes to edit down my pictures...I want to share everything! I did want to go home with tadpoles! But I probably would have fallen in the pond trying.

    Ficurinia, what a great place to take your foster child! It must have inspired wonder to see all those amazing plants!

    Les, I was thinking about that on the way out there. How lucky I am with the riches we have in this part of the world.

    Denise, thank you for the correction, I'll make the change. I am so jealous you got to go to the Huntington sale!

    Megan, I hope you know I'm just teasing about the bananas. Bummer that your visit was so rushed...but you still got some good stuff!

    Pam, thank you for the links. I'm sorry to hear yours "passed on"...

    gh1, I remember feeling that way (chaos all around) my first visit but now I am used to it and kind of enjoy it, it adds to the excitement somehow. We had a Musella lasiocarpa that sailed through a couple winters, limped back (barely) after winter '08 and then last year did it in completely. It was fabulous while it lasted, good luck with yours! Oh...and the containers, I think it comes from so many years of living in apartments where I could only garden in containers. That combined with my love of the exotics has me (and the husband) doomed to hauling around containers.

    Patricia, I understand...and of course I am only enjoying harassing you because I can. I manage to accumulate plenty of plants (too many some might say) on my own. God help me if others are shopping for me too!


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