Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rare Plant Research, COVID-19 edition

Sitting down to write this post I had a flashback to a previous visit to Rare Plant Research, on Rapture Day, back in 2011. Remember that? The world was going to end and the chosen were going to be taken up to heaven. The rest of us? Well, good luck. Of course none of that happened, a crazy man and his crazy ideas. Unlike this current situation which is very real and has only been made worse by a crazy man and his crazy ideas. But I digress...

Let's talk plants!

All week I've teased with mention of last weekend's visit to Rare Plant Research. Usually the 3rd weekend in May means complete plant lust chaos at RPR, as people descend upon the wholesale and mail-order nursery to shop the unique plants only available a couple of times a year. There are crowds. Obviously that wasn't going to do this year.

Instead the owner, Burl, devised a reservation system and only 10 people each hour would be allowed into the nursery, masks required. I was lucky and got in for the first hour, on the first day...but there are more slots available this Saturday, the 23rd and also on the 30th—click here for more information.

Above a blooming opuntia I couldn't make out the name of, below is Opuntia cycloides.

Pachypodium eburneum

I came close, but did not take one of these home.

Opuntia polyacantha

Aloe aristata, hardy for me believe it or not.

Macleania insignis

These plants always make me think of a game of twister gone bad.


I loved this one especially.

I was really jonesing for a Vriesea imperialis (now known as Alcantarea imperialis), like that one on the left...

Sweet! But actually much larger than I needed.

Furcraea gigantea 'Variegata'... a plant I love but will not try to grow again until I move to Southern California.

That beauty in the bottom center there was signed as Beaucarnea goldmanii red leaf form.

No signs here. I can never decide if I love the gold, or if it looks ill.

These guys though—Billbergia hallelujah—I swoon.

I almost took one of these Aechmea odorata (I believe) home, I didn't. I had one, it never looked this good.

Haemanthus humilis

Aloe dorotheae

Aeonium urbicum rubrum

Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’

It was so odd shopping here with no crowds. Eavesdropping on my fellow shoppers is usually half the fun. Then again is was nice to have the greenhouses all to myself. This crested Aeonium kiwi gave me the creeps. I do not like crested plants.

Wait, I shouldn't have said "all to myself" as I wasn't shopping alone, Peter was with me! (he drove down for the sale and we met up)

Signed as Agave ovatifolia...and I think that's what they are.

Score! If you're in need (I have 5, I am not in need)

Half of these Agave americana 'Variegata' were in containers, the other half were pups that had grown out of their mama's pot.


Okay, outside, ready to purchase, and I realize one of the pair of rusty containers I've lusted after for years is gone! Now there's only one. Damn.

Here's Peter's haul. Since we weren't driving together I was determined to get a photo of what he bought before he tucked it away in his car. That gorgeous guy on the left was unsigned, close up below. He also bought a pair of Aloe dorotheae, a Scadoxus puniceus (we won't talk about the fact the one I have was one he got tired of and gave to me), there's an Opuntia polyacantha in there, a small bright bromeliad, and a Hatiora salicornioides.

I thought this was an Agave geminiflora but the longer we stood there and looked at it I started to doubt myself and thought maybe it was a yucca. Any guesses?

After I paid (and forgot to take a photo of my haul! but I'll share photos tomorrow) Peter and I took our traditional walk around Burl's home garden. Scadoxus puniceus in the field.

The home, the garden...

A hedge of cotinus...

So there you have it, another year, another visit to Rare Plant Research. The more things change, the more they stay the same. What will 2021 bring?

Weather Diary, May 20: Hi 61, Low 50/ Precip .02

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


  1. The grounds of RPR is amazing, especially fun to stroll through with a dear friend. I like the Billbergia hallelujah, and it looks like some of that burgundy squirted right into the little gold bromeliads. Could make a fun combination, even if a little contrasty.

    1. You're right...those two bromeliads together would be fun, and LOUD!

  2. Excellent first paragraph! In fact, the whole post is quite humorous. Made me Smile. I like.

    1. Could it be a Hesperaloe? Maybe the bell-flowered one?
      See this fabulous website

    2. No, I don't think to. The way it grows at the base is completely different (if you're referring to the plant Peter bought). That website does have some great plants though!

  3. AnonymousMay 21, 2020

    Been missing Peter, so nice to get a glimpse of him here. Of course your special take on RPR is always a treat.

    1. It is always a fun place to visit, extra fun with the Outlaw.

  4. Was good to see you there! Alan and I didn't buy a ton, but its still a great sale to see different plants and see friends. The "screaming frogs" around the ponds were exciting too.

    1. Well damn. Screaming frogs? We didn't hear any screaming frogs!

  5. I'd have been in 7th heaven. I love the Macleania insignis, a plant I'd never heard of, much less seen. I was glad to read of your intent to move to SoCal (someday) too! ;)

    1. Been dreaming about that one for awhile now...

  6. I wish I knew what next year will bring. Or do I? Not so sure nowadays. I got hold of some seed of Alcantarea and it germinated well. I know you're not a seedy type of person, but that's my bit of useless information anyhow. That Macleania looks like a bit of a heartbreaker. All it needs is a Columbian cloud forest to keep it happy. Hmmm

    1. Right? Here in the U.S. of course a lot is riding on what happens in November. I wish I had a place I could keep seeds/seedlings happy while they grow on to plantable size.

  7. The 2nd photo of striped Cannas, so gorgeous. Lots of great plants and what a beautiful location. You lucky!

  8. I'm glad they figured out how to accommodate the sale despite the virus. Isn't it strange how masks and distancing is no longer so strange?

    1. I dunno, it all still feels plenty strange to me.

  9. I'm pretty sure it's Agave geminiflora.

    Moving to Southern California? Do tell!

  10. So glad to see Peter looking well! I miss his blog.

  11. What a marvelous looking home/garden and nursery. And Peter, too! Looks like a lovely time masked and distancing. A Cotinus hedge; who'd athunk it? What a brilliant idea.


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