Monday, February 28, 2022

The nursery at the John Fairey Garden

During my October trip to Austin, Pam Penick and I visited the John Fairey Garden in Helpstead, Texas. We had prior permission to visit, since the garden is only open on certain days—being the hostess that she is Pam had arranged everything. 

We passed this enticing sight (below) walking up to the visitor's center. Pam was all business, heading to introduce herself and get things squared away, where as I naturally veered towards the plants for sale. 

It took absolutely everything in me to walk on by, knowing (hoping, praying) that we'd finish up here once we'd walked the garden. I did stop to take a photo of this monster-sized Amorphophallus titanum however...

Today I am fast-forwarding to the end of our visit, when the plant shopping did finally occur. It was right after we oohed and aahed over Dixie Friend Gay's fabulous mural (here) that we finally wandered over to the greenhouses.

The beginnings of a massive crevice garden perhaps?

Looking to the right, and an "off-limits" area...

And looking to the left, where I was immediately smitten with this display...

As anyone who has read Fearless Gardening, or attended one of my book-talks probably knows, I am a fan of plants raised up on a pedestal or plinth. These are no exception. 

I would love to come across pipes like these I could use in my garden.

As for the plants for sale, they were a carefully curated collection.

Clean, healthy, well labeled.

I was on my best behavior only because I was flying back home with limited plant hauling capabilities.

Baby kalanchloe...

There were several mangaves.

Kalanchoe luciae or Kalanchoe thyrsiflora? I do not remember

Those big leaves drew me in.

A plant I'd never heard of, and note that tempting price!

It's in the Euphorbia family.

I would have loved to take one of them home with me...

That new growth color! That long tail!

It's a ficus!? 

"Ficus religiosa or sacred fig is a species of fig native to the Indian subcontinent and Indochina that belongs to Moraceae, the fig or mulberry family...The sacred fig is considered to have a religious significance in three major religions that originated on the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hindu and Jain ascetics consider the species to be sacred and often meditate under it." (source)  

Looking around the nursery I realized they're not just selling plants brought in to move quickly and make a few quick bucks on. Rather they've got special plants that must be descendants of ones John Fairey himself collected on his plant-hunting expeditions back in the day.

Ficus tannoensis, collected in Taiwan according to the label.

Ficus formosana

Manihot walkerae

"Manihot walkerae, commonly known as Walker's manihot, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that is native to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the United States and Tamaulipas in Mexico. The specific name honours amateur botanist Thelma Ratcliff (Mrs. E. J.) Walker, who discovered the type specimen near Mission and La Joya, Texas in 1942. Walker's manihot generally grows under the branches of larger shrubs and trees. In Texas, this species inhabits xeric slopes and uplands in thorny shrublands." (source)

Unfortunately I did not get a shot of the label for this begonia, probably thinking that I would remember it's name—which I do not.

I do love it when an agave pup escapes through the container's drainage holes.

So, did I buy anything? Of course I did! A small Agave xylonacantha. I am really bummed that I didn't take a photo of the table it was on, along with it's brothers and sisters. There were so many of them!

Unfortunately it's lower leaves have started to dry out since arriving in Portland and adjusting to life in the basement for the winter. It's hardy to the mid 20's though, so maybe I'll pot it up, give it a light drink and put it out in the shade pavilion greenhouse. In case you're wondering why I bought this particular agave, just look at those teeth!

If you live anywhere near the John Fairey Garden you should definitely plan to visit, and buy plants too! I'll have more photos from the garden soon. 

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All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Returning to La Conchita, California—Part One

When Gerhard and I attended the Bromeliad Summit back in 2019 we stayed at an Airbnb in a small community just south of Santa Barbara called La Conchita. We only had a brief chance to check out the area's gardens (my post here), but I remember it felt like a gardener's paradise and I vowed to return someday to see it all. I did just that last November...

La Conchita is a single exit, unincorporated community, off the US 101 as it hugs the California coastline—literally just a single exit, you have to be heading northbound to take it, there is no southbound exit. Back in 2005 there was a mudslide in the area that killed 10 people, it's been officially declared a geologic hazard area. As if that wasn't enough, fires have repeatedly threatened the area's homes. I think it takes a certain "devil-may-care" attitude to live here.

I drove up and down the ten avenues of La Conchita on the morning of November 20th, stopping to take photos whenever I saw something suitably planty. I would have loved to walk the streets but had to balance that desire against the time it would have taken and the other things further up the coast which I hoped to see that day—driving won.

I pulled over to get a better look at an interesting garden I'd spotted when I realized I'd parked next to a narrow sort of "guerrilla-garden" along a chain link fence at the northern edge of the community. This photo and the two above are of that space...

And here's the garden I'd spotted...

The plants are so abundant they're spilling over and out of the brick wall along the front of the property.

Looking into the small front garden...

And street-side...

Isn't this fantastic? Check out the tillandsia "dripping" off the roof.

Tillandsia are poised to take over the chain-link and bamboo gate as well.

This is best shot I got into the private garden area, yes, I would have loved to see more of this!

Love this plant and planter combination...

There was one on each side of the gate. The plant might be a sarcostemma, I bought an oddity last July at the Oregon Cactus & Succulent Society Show and Sale held at Portland Nursery and it was labeled as such. It looks very similar to these plants.

What an exuberant garden, I walked back to the car with a big smile on my face.

And of course I snapped a few more images of the guerrilla-garden, I bet the gardener responsible for the above garden had taken his or her talents, and extra plants, across the street.

I've got another post's worth of photo's from La Conchita to share sometime soon, in the meantime I think I need to look at real estate listings!

(*update after looking...turns out a vacant lot sells for $430,000 and a home up against the cliff that gave way goes for $870,000—geologic hazard area doesn't mean cheap real estate!*)

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.