Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dry Garden, who needs polish when you've got loads of plants, passion and personality?


Last September I finally got to visit The Dry Garden in Oakland. I say "finally" because my last attempt was thwarted by a transit strike and the time before that my travel companion dismissed the nursery as being a little less than polished, in other words...not worth stopping for. What!? Polish? Who needs polish when you've got this...

Sure I like visiting designy places like Flora Grubb, but true eclectic plant madness is worthy of a visit too. Very worthy...

There were treasures everywhere! Cryptbergia 'Red Burst'

Leucadendron argenteum

Protea somebody something or another

This is where I purchased my Sonchus canariensis.

Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light' (L) and 'Kara's Stripes' (R)

Salvia apiana, one of these came home with me too.

Phylica pubescens

I was tempted, but it's not hardy here and my visit fell at the wrong time of the year to experiment.

Setaria palmifolia var. rubra

So lovely, only hardy to 20-25F...

The nursery turned out to be twice as big as I thought it was when I first walked in, that means twice as many good things!

Euphorbia atropurpurea

Their signs were very helpful.

I came close to leaving with one of these Agave celsii var. albicans 'UCB'. However at $50, I decided to leave it behind.

Opuntia robusta

They really are round!

Echeveria cante

Kalanchoe synsepala var. dissecta

I forgot to ask why these guys were in their own little house. Tender? To stay dry?

Most crested cactus give me the creeps, these I like.

Who wouldn't love this place, right?

Aloe peglerae

Grevillea petrophiloides 'Big Bird

Someday I'm going to find one of these beautiful bromeliads in a smaller size, so I can afford it!

Someday.

Have you noticed the artwork throughout this post? If you've visited (or mail ordered from) Cistus Nursery I bet this image is familiar (it's on their tags and old t-shirts). Perhaps that's why I really enjoyed seeing the work of the artist, Mark Bulwinkle, all through The Dry Garden. It reminded me of a favorite place and made this nursery feel all the more like home.

Do yourself a favor and visit next time you're in the Bay Area!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

44 comments:

  1. So many great plants! There's something so funny to me about those huge Opuntia robusta pads in pots. I was all set to rave about the Leucodendron (and that silvery, long-leaved Banksia in the third photo) when I got to the Vriesea bromeliads! Especially the first one, gorgeous! I have a running wishlist of bromeliads I'd like to order someday, and ones like that are definitely high on the list.

    As to the cacti and succulents in the greenhouse, I've been reading that the Bay Area can be too cool and/or moist for many true desert plants. Cacti from the mountains of South America seem to do better than those from places that get hotter in the day like the American Southwest. Maybe that's the reason?

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    1. There was a small bromeliad at Portland Nursery that looked like (with time and care) it might turn out to be one of those beauties. I probably should have bought it.

      Turns out the housed plants are staying dry (see anon below)...

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  2. What a great place! I did recognize the artwork as being the same as Cistus. I love the perfectly round Opuntia. The Bromelaid is gorgeous, but it's the Aloe peglerae that really makes me swoon.

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    1. Are you stopping in the Bay Area when you head south?

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    2. No, we're flying down to L.A. and then taking the train north to come home.

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  3. Unpolished or not this place is a gem! And it looks pretty 'polished' to me anyway...

    They stock some really fabulous plants there that we could only wish we'd be able to find here.

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    1. I know that feeling (seeing fabulous plants on your blog that I wish I could find here). Maybe when you visit Gerhard he'll take you here?

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  4. The DG is where I first found a mathiasella for sale, and where you can bump into designers like Cevan Forristt while shopping. I have been looking everywhere local for Leuc. argenteum! Hope it's still there for my next road trip north. I've never been a fan of opuntia -- seen too many weedy gardens where the owner gave up weeding around them -- but I might even be tempted by that robusta. Maybe sonchus like it a little cooler -- they're always so ugly here in summer. (Even so I'm trying out S. congestus) Glad you made the trip!

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    1. I had to look up the name Cevan Forristt, but then of course I see a post from you and one from Delphine. When we were there last fall I saw Leuc. argenteum here, Flora Grubb and Flowerland, it was like they were following me, taunting me. They were all priced within a few pennies of each other.

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  5. My heart is racing and my head is spinning! So many great plants to lust after. LOVED that Grevillea petrophiloides 'Big Bird' I would have gone nuts at that nursery. Let's just skip spring and go right on to summer!

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    1. I agree!!! Of course there are those crazy people who keep talking about how we need snow in the mountains but I say bring it on! (spring, not the snow). One year without significant snowfall won't hurt us (right?).

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  6. Oh the Agave celsii var. albicans 'UCB' is gorgeous! Didn't we both get our baby ones at Ruth Bancroft? Mine is putting on some growth but it will still be years before it looks like those! The very circular opuntia is adorable! So many great plants but you're right, we're always in a more experimental mood in spring and summer. This place is going on the list of places to see next time we get to the bay area!

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    1. Yes, mine came from RBG via Gerhard. It's alive but not looking grand. I need to be sure to give it lots of sunny affection this summer. Perhaps you should start socking away a little money now, so that when you do visit you can buy everything your heart desires!

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  7. I've only been there once, before I started blogging. Your post reminds me that I MUST go back. Just a little over an hour from my house...

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  8. Yeah, the nursery is a bit on the funky side, but it has such a great selection of plants, and I've been going there since I moved to Berkeley back in 1989, back when his partner Keith was still alive. It's been fun joining Richard on plant shopping trips down to southern California over the years, and surprised you didn't also mention the Hortisexuals garden group connection that ties in Sean Hogan, Marcia Donahue, Mark Bullwinkle, Richard Ward, Robin Parer as part of the group dynamic, and all tying back to The Dry Garden Nursery. We're blessed here locally, and Richard Ward, the owner, is a big part of the larger circle of garden/nursery relationships here.

    And the cacti/succulents in the enclosure? Rain protection more so than cold protection, plus it does warm up more inside on a winter's day, benefitting those species inside that prefer it a bit warmer.

    Always tempting plants to browse, and Richard catches us all up on the larger tribe's goings on.

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    1. Funky but in a very good way, in my book. I didn't mention the Hotisexuals because even though I know of them, I don't really know much about them. Your comment got me thinking though and I think the first I'd heard of the group was from Michelle Derviss. I miss reading her blog posts.

      I do wish Richard had been there when I visited, I would have loved to meet him. He was traveling in some far away land (I was told where but can't remember). I went to Marcia's garden right after this and she was away too. I didn't have much success meeting people that day...

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  9. Really fun place! I think I tend to prefer the less-polished places that are quirky and whimsical. I love the unexpected, and have found in my forays, that I come across the most unusual and rare things (plants and decor) at the out-of-the-way or Mom and Pop places. It brings to mind discovering a secret treasure trove!
    I LOVE that Opuntia! So many great plants in this post!

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    1. I need a mix of both. I am a design junky so I crave the new and cutting edge. I also have the heart of a collector so I love a good find like this.

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  10. That's my kind of place! I saw several things in your photos that I would have been loathe to leave behind, like that Phylica pubescens - the only one I've seen was priced at $400.

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    1. Are you serious? It must have been huge, right? These were small (4" pots) and only $7.95. Are you planning that Bay Area trip yet?

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    2. Kris, the Ruth Bancroft Garden nursery had Phylica pubescens in 5 gal for $30 or so.

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  11. Another interesting place :) so many that I can´t keep up with all of them.

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    1. I'm starting to have trouble too. I've got lists going of new places I've heard of that I NEED to visit.

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  12. Opuntia robusta = want! So big, so round! I'll take this sort of place over the more "refined" nurseries any day!

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    1. Hate to be the voice of doom but that one has a very narrow range of hardiness and it wouldn't even live here. Maybe in a container?

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    2. I'm not against overwintering in containers, but that one might be too much effort (my big Agave in the garage has poked me countless times this winter -- imagine what those spines would do!)

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  13. I'm with Gerhard, it's been way way too long since I've visited this nursery. 10 years maybe ? Inexcusable considering all the trips I've made to UCB Botanical.

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    1. What were you thinking? Yep...get on over there!

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  14. I saw the same Phyllica Kris saw in Carpenteria. It was breathtaking--in size, beauty--and price. .
    Dry Garden looks plenty polished enough for me. Must get there.

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  15. What a cool place! That Grevillea petrophiloides 'Big Bird' would have come home with me, and probably one of those round Opuntias too. Can you imagine a bunch of them planted in a long line? That would be hilarious! I know you're talking about me being all crazy for wanting snow on the mountain - it's the skier in me! :) Plus, my garden is full of plants that actually need water. At this year's rate, I'm going to have plant more drought tolerant stuff.

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    1. It's not just you Anna, there are plenty of people worried about the snow pack. I think I'm in the minority!

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  16. Who heeds polish ? As a Polish from Poland - I need polish to describe all those beauties - because I'm not able to do it exactly in my poor english..

    with snowy greetings
    Tomasz

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    1. You made me smile Tomasz, thank you.

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  17. Despite the fact that some of these plants look like they're covered in shark's teeth, this does look like a cool place. Believe it or not - I am considering adding a tiny stabby pokey plant to one of my pots. However, I will have to cover its barbs with either wine corks or gummy bears. But the idea of a plant covered in impaled gummy bears feels a bit too Game of Thrones for me. Decisions decisions decisions.......

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    1. Gummy bears! Although that could get a little sticky if it rains...

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  18. You just answered the question I asked last. The think about the funky places is their individualistic personalities. Elegance can be somewhat generic (not that I don't thoroughly enjoy it). Glad you took the plunge and exposed us to this one.

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    1. Glad I finally got the opportunity! And no doubt I'll be back again as soon as I can;

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  19. If you can find it cheap enough, I would try Setaria. We bought several to use in summer containers at work, and they did great. At the end of the season we stored them in one of our hothouses and trialed them in a garden where they also did well. Last winter was hideously cold, frequently dipping into the low teens at night, and it even fell to 6 one evening. The Setaria we planted outside looked like toast, but come spring it came back to life and proceeded to drop little seedlings all over the place. We will be keeping an eye on it for invasiveness.

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    1. Hey that's great, thank you for the report.

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  20. I love the artwork. Those opuntia pads made me smile - SO round! And that is the biggest 'penis cactus' I've seen! I have a little one (that's the only name the owner of that last cactus nursery I went to gave me, and once you see it you can't unsee it).

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    1. "once you see it you can't unsee it"...so true...

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  21. That first sign is a death star if I've ever seen one! Love the art. Love the plants. Looks like a really cool place to visit.

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