Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Visiting the Theodore Payne Foundation nursery

Scouting for a few quick garden/nursery visits during our holiday trip to the Los Angeles area—especially new to me places—I remembered the Theodore Payne Foundation. Bonus, it was only a few miles from our hotel in Burbank.

I think it was Denise who "introduced" me to this place. It not only includes plants for sale, but a small demo garden and a hike up a hillside trail. Dubbed the Wild Flower Hill Trail it wasn't really that during December, but that didn't bother me.

Hesperoyucca whipplei

There were a considerable amount of people mingling about and shopping for plants, pretty amazing for December 26th. Looks like they were ready for a few more to show up.

Everything was very well organized.

Lyonothamnus floribundus subsp. aspleniifolius (Santa Cruz Ironwood), a favorite! Only $14 for a 1-gallon and $50 for a 5-gallon.

Or if a tall 4" pot is more to your liking, only $8.

This was a little surprising to see, then again maybe the L.A. area just doesn't have enough moisture for Equisetum hyemale to be an invasive nightmare.

Plants already in pots...

My people plants!

On the far right is Yucca schidigera ($12)

Agave deserti ($16/$50)

In the center (the cylinders) is Bergerocactus emoryi ($12) for the seriously spiky inclined...

Ah, Agave shawii, such a beautiful agave and at least in my experience pretty hard to find in a nursery. The big ones were $50, the small $16. I was momentarily tempted by the smaller ones, but they just don't have the teeth that make this species so gorgeous. Sadly it's not hardy in the Portland area and living in a container it wouldn't be easy to get it grown on to the look that makes this plant so special. I passed.


Oh, I like this cute green business.

Only hardy to 15F though. I include this sign as an example of just how wonderfully informative all their signage was.

There were several mature and downright sculptural arctostaphylos, unfortunately not labeled.

Dudleya brittonii ($12). Earlier in our trip, I saw a few of these growing out of a cliff-side in Ventura (a lunch outing on Christmas Eve).

Lyonothamnus floribundus subsp. aspleniifolius in all of it's bark peeling beauty.

Dendromecon harfordii, aka Channel Islands tree poppy

Another stunning arctostaphylos...

This one with white flowers. I hunted down a volunteer to ask if they knew the species. Nope. At least the people working that day didn't.

They had a vast array of different types for sale though. Here is Arctostaphylos 'Lester Rowntree'...

And Arctostaphylos silvicola 'Ghostly' ($12/$25).

Mahonia nevinii ($12/$35) is a bit ghostly too...


I don't know, they look ready for sale to me.

What a nice tidy space to work in.

Salvia apiana


I love the opuntia gathered around the base of this tree, it's a good look.

Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris

For years I mistakenly thought "organ pipe cactus" was actually "Oregon pipe cactus". I know, what can I say, I was young.

If I ever try another dudleya in my garden this is exactly how I'll plant it, almost sideways.

Lastly, I had to share this genius way of organizing their for-sale seeds.

I bet I have a few friends who fill a card catalog file like this no problem.

I have more from the Theodore Payne Foundation coming up... and you should visit if you're in the area, oh and they even have an online inventory of the plants available!

Weather Diary, Jan 6: Hi 52, Low 45/ Precip .19

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I'm glad you were able to recover your photos after your camera died. I have a friend who regularly attends their plant sales (which I understand are a mad-house) but I've yet to visit, a serious omission on my part. My friend kindly picks up plants for me, though.

    1. Seeing how many people were shopping on the 26th I can't even begin to guess what a sale atmosphere must be like. Chaos! That said you should definitely visit someday when you have plans to be in the area.

  2. A nursery that also offers a demo garden and a hiking trail is rare but oh, so wonderful. The sculptural arctostaphylos is gorgeous although it has some dead branches that need pruning (weren't you tempted to grab a pair of pruning shears?). It would be something if Oregon had an official state cactus. Hilarious.

    1. I was more curious about the dead branches than I was tempted to cut them. They added an air of mystery, that said in my own garden they'd definitely be gone!

  3. It's always interesting and fun to see a new California nursery. Those beautiful wooden catalog files are lovely, but I keep all of my seeds in my fridge, in the vegetable drawer. You're supposed to keep them somewhere cool to prolong them -- that's what I've heard anyway.

    1. That makes sense (cool seeds). I wonder what the seed turnover is like here? shycat100's comment below makes me think they mail order seeds too.

  4. What a great use for card catalog files - might be just the thing to organize all those pesky plastic plant label thingies. Great nursery!

    1. Excellent idea! And I wouldn't be surprised to learn you have one tucked away somewhere.

  5. I bought a bunch of plants when I was there last year. A real California treasure that deserves a lot more exposure. I'm so glad you went.

    1. Ah, I'm glad to hear you've been there. I didn't remember that you had.

  6. Their seed packs of wildflowers are wonderful, if you can't make the trip.

  7. I'll have to put this one on the list for the next visit I make out there. Lots of treasures!

    1. It was a really fun place to visit. Probably even more so in the spring or early summer.

  8. Having Opuntia at the base of trees is an inspired idea. Might have to try this to keep the porcupines from eating the bark. A cool place to visit on Boxing Day.

    1. Porcupines eat the bark of your trees? Yikes! Yes, I would think a few opuntia would dissuade them.


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