Friday, December 19, 2008

Cactus Cookie Cutters

Over at buzzfood, Tamara Sellman says:
The idea of Christmas Cacti isn't new (for me); I made these about 18 years ago when I worked as a cookbook editor for Publications International, Ltd., and had an obsession, at that time, for collecting oddball cookie cutters.
Just what I need for Christmas, some "cactus" cookie cutters... Anybody listening?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Hardy" Echeverias

People are always asking whether Echeverias are hardy or not; people tell them that under the right conditions, some are quite hardy...

Well, this one's hardy all right - as long as you keep it below freezing. Warm it up and it suddenly will become a wee bit limp!

But as long as it's below freezing, it's a beaut! I call it our "Echeveriacicle". For us it's been really cold, down to 16 degrees F.

(Actually, we just forgot these two Echeveria gibbiflora hybrids and they didn't get into protection. If either one does survive, we'll let you know!) [Fat chance!]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Growing roots

I've often said that we're in the business of growing roots. This is what I mean:


The cold weather has arrived with a vengeance. I've been out in the greenhouses improving the insulation throughout but tonight is going to be the cold one, so we'll see. And more snow on Wednesday.

Enough already!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


To those in the U.S. who read this blog - few though you be - I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! And to those from elsewhere around the world, I wish that you also may have times of profound thanks, even in times of severe suffering and pain, or perhaps in spite of so much that is wrong. I'll be back on the other side of the holiday. Peace.

Gibbaeum dispar

Now it's the mesembs turn to flower. This is Gibbaeum dispar, one of my favorites.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spines on a Fall Afternoon

More good weather out there so I couldn't resist taking some more photos. These are the spines of an old plant of Parodia maasii.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Introducing Haworthia mutica hybrid. What are it's parents? We don't know. Consider it a runaway if you like. But it's nice. Actually it's previous human custodians wrote on the label that it was a match between H. mutica and H. "white"...

Regardless of its less than clear parentage, we came to really like the little babies! I understand a few are available for adoption over at the nursery.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg's are looking so nice at this time of year. The colors are just fantastic!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kiani and Osita, Mama and Daughter

Lynn-Marie took this photo a couple of weeks ago on the way to the Oregon Coast. These are our two Belgian Tervurens, Osita (daughter) and Kiani (mother). They send you their greetings.

Rebutia muscula flower

Lynn-Marie took this photo of Rebutia muscula yesterday. We just never know what to expect!

Massonia jasminiflora

I've really come to like this little South African plant. And when it flowers - wow - does it have a scent.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Haworthia retusa (seed from EA1208). Some very nice seed grown haworthias are coming into their own in the greenhouse.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We're having some beautiful Fall weather and I just couldn't resist taking a telephoto image of Mt. Hood. This was taken a couple of blocks from our place, from what is called "Mock's Crest".

Monday, October 20, 2008

Haworthia bayeri

This is a close-up of Haworthia bayeri (GM264), another striking haworthia. We have a limited number available in the nursery.

Agave attenuata

Sometimes a close-up look can reveal beauty often overlooked. Take this image of an Agave attenuata which I have labeled abstract in green.

Haworthia arachnoide var. arachnoidea

I squeezed in a few minutes of greenhouse photography yesterday. This particular plant is one of my favorites -- (unfortunately for us, I have quite a few "favorites"). It's seed grown from LML99011 seeds, seeded in December of 2005. (A limited number are available from the Haworthia Specialities list.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stapelia scitula

I love this little Stapelia. And it doesn't stink much either!

We're supporting Barack Obama for President

Normally we would not talk politics on this blog. However, we feel so strongly about this election this year that we simply felt compelled to do so. If someone is offended and decides not to do business with our nursery as a result, we're willing to take that risk.

I encourage you to visit the Barack Obama web site (link to the right), especially if you are undecided.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another recent flower

Pterodiscus speciosa: I love this plant, and the flower is just an added reason to grow it. Makes for a great succulent bonsai subject.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

OCSS Fall Sale

It was good to see some of you out at the Portland Home & Garden Show where we participated (along with Northwest Cactus) in the Oregon Cactus & Succulent Society Fall Sale. Attendance was way down at the show this year (perhaps a reflection of the economy?) but it's always good to visit old friends and find new people interested in succulent plants.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Oregon Coast break

As native Oregonians, it doesn't bother us that it may be foggy and rainy the whole time when we go to the coast for a break. We recently did just that, and sure enough...

Succulents, yes, but no cacti there. But that's why we take a break.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Haworthia updates

For those of you interested in haworthias, check out the new postings by David Martin on At the request of Bruce Bayer, David is posting "Haworthia - new field information since 2000 by M. Bruce Bayer". This is a great resource. Check it out.

Echinopsis hybrids

Ah yes, nothing like a little late summer color to wake up the senses.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Getting winterized

Sorry I've been absent for so long. It's been a very busy Summer, and Fall's not going to get any better! So, time to bite the bullet and get some comments out.

I just talked to a customer who was getting concerned about the cool nights and preparing for Winter... What? Now that's a novel concept: being prepared.

It's also worry time for us. Now that we have plants scattered all around outside, how do we get them all back in the greenhouses? And how are we going to afford the heat??? !

Ah yes, Fall. O well, we've got another month/month and a half before we really have to start worrying!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Echinopsis 'Buttercup'

I don't know about you, but I never tire of those Echinopsis hybrid flowers. This one is E. 'Buttercup'. Yes, the flowers don't last long, but they don't just flower once!

A Little Political Aside

I'm not anti bank. But the financial crisis is real, with "too big to fail" the message heard repeatedly from governments stepping in and spending billions to prop up failing financial markets. I believe a healthy distrust of institutions which are "to big to fail" is a good thing. Thomas Jefferson was even more radical:
"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a larger scale."
Maybe it's time to rethink our whole financial structures in the light of the issues of global warming. It's already happening on the local level as more and more people make changes in their lifestyle. Isn't it time for this to percolate up to our national and international leaders?

OK. My next post will be about plants!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Absence makes the heart...

Sorry. I've been absent from this for a while. Just too busy. And this weekend I did 12 hours on Friday and 10 hours today at the Oregon Cactus and Succulent Society show and sale. No breaks; no chair. No energy left. One more 10 hour day left. Alleluia!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Succulents as a Simple Accent

Maureen Gilmer, writing in the Lancaster New Leader says
The coolest new trend that has evolved out of the mid-mod movement is succulents. They bear distinct forms that are bold and graphic, standing out against the walls and surfaces of these simplified homes. Even in colder climates, succulents are a great choice, because the plants can come indoors for the winter, thriving in the bright light of these open homes.
She then adds:
Potted-succulent artists have evolved distinctly different approaches well-suited to modern homes.
The first style is modern minimal and quite masculine in look and feel. Forms are rectilinear, using square or rectangular pots to create bold geometry...
The second approach is far more free-form and really sexy. It depends on the plants themselves to create a bold form. Upright cacti and other succulents can produce some truly spectacular poles, rosettes or balls that are geometric in their own right. The trick is to combine them with an interesting pot, then to select a stone or glass mulch to create a beautiful surface within the pot.
A third style has its roots in Japan, where many elements of modern design were born. Some succulents — which have fleshy leaves to retain water, plus a thickened stem called a "caudex" — are outstanding bonsai specimens. When planted in bonsai-style pots, they make a superior focal point for any room, whether indoors or out. Creative shaping of the plants, plus the use of naturalistic stones, makes them fabulous for a mid-mod apartment patio or in a winter kitchen.
Aren't you glad you've been discovered?
Seriously, it's a nice article. Check it out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our new helper

Introducing our new helper around the nursery: Kiani. Kiani's the mother of Osita, our other Belgian Tervuren. She 's fitting in quite nicely and has learned to dodge around the cacti very quickly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Michelin Man"? succulent

Over at Scientific Blogging", and at number of other sites, they've announced a list of the ten best new species of 2007. One of the items is a new succulent species, Tecticornia bibenda. It's been dubbed the "Michelin Man", but I think the people who gave it this name had probably been celebrating a bit too much. But it is a neat succulent from Western Australia. It's conservation status is P-3 - "taxa which are known from several populations, at least some of which are not believed to be under immediate threat (i.e. not currently endangered). Such taxa are under consideration for declaration as ‘rare flora’, but are in need of further survey."

The genus consists of quite a few species of salt-tolerant shrubby plants from Australia.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New nursery helper

Ladybug and Osita now have a new nursery helper, Osita's mama, Kiani. We've only had her a little over a week, but she's certainly fitting in. I'll have a mother/daughter picture up as soon as I get them to stay still long enough...

Echinopsis 'Stars & Stripes'

I used to be pretty negative about Echinopsis flowers. They'd show up and then be gone almost before you had a chance to see them. Nice, but hey? But then there some of the cultivars! This old standard is 'Stars & Stripes', a Paramount hybrid. This flower lasted a full 2 1/2 days and wow! And, even better, the flowers just keep coming and coming. I wish I had more room in the greenhouse.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And today the weather will be?

A few days ago, we broke records for this time of the year with 98F weather. Today it's raining and 60F. And, of course, overcast. A week ago, rush to get the shade cloth up on the greenhouses. Today, take it off so the plants, who thought it was summer, can get some light. The cacti were having a blast and will probably be a little dejected today!

This early heat spell was a bit unusual. Can you believe, Tillamook, on the Oregon coast (which is usually cooler than us) reached 100F (actually 105) two days before Phoenix, Arizona broke the 100 degree mark. Go figure!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eriosyce senilis

Before we left on our road trip, I said I would upload a photo of Eriosyce senilis (syn. Neoporteria senilis) with the flower fully open. This is on a different plant, one of the smaller ones we have, and - wow! I can't speak for you, but these always catch me by surprise every Spring.

Monday, May 5, 2008

3500 miles in 8 days

We're back from our road trip for new nursery stock. And, you know, when you're on that last leg, driving up that long stretch of I-5 freeway through the Sacramento valley, some questions/observations just pop into your head. Like, why is it that the California highway department can't simply say "road repair ahead" instead of "roadway rehabilitation" ahead?!? And why do they have to keep reminding us, over and over again, to "Stay on Pavement"? It would seem to me that most people would prefer to stay on the pavement when driving on a freeway at 65 mph or higher. Or, is it a common occurrence for California drivers to drive off onto the grass at that speed?

Or maybe these seem like profound questions only after driving 3500 miles and visiting 12 or more cactus nurseries in 8 days.

At any rate...we're back!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Echinopsis mirabilis

I don't really know why more people don't have this wonderful old plant. It's a night-blooming, scented, small plant which, after all these years, we still make sure to stay up to see it's bloom. Not large, but impressive for such a small plant. And I still like the old name: Setiechinopsis mirabilis. Kinda just rolls off the tongue.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eriocyse senilis

Another plant that's flowering its head off - so to speak - is Eriocyse senilis (syn. Neoporteria senilis). The flowers weren't quite open when I took this photo, but I'll try to remember to catch it when it's wide open, because that's even more striking. You'll see what I mean when I post it.

This particular plant is an older specimen we've had for many years, but they flower when quite young.
We grew up knowing this as Neoporteria gerocephala, which turned out to be an illegitimate name. Since 1994 it has been placed in Eriocyse as a result of Fred Kattermann's field work. There are three subspecies recognized, of which this is subspecies senilis.

It's a bit prone to root rot so it needs excellent drainage (doesn't everything succulent???) and judicious watering.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flowering season

Even during the winter, there are periodic surprises in the greenhouses. But at this time of! A surprise just about every hour! Many of the cacti are budding up and flowering and the dormant caudiciform plants are leafing out. And the Lithops are finishing out their winter growth spurt as the old leaves shrivel up and the new leaves plump up. Never a dull moment.
This is a closeup of Mammillaria saboae, a small growing plant with relatively large flowers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Turbinocarpus ysabelae

Another plant from our personal collection, a plant that's not at all common in collections. Also often listed as Gymnocactus ysabelae.

The same plant from a different view:

Some more photos for your enjoyment

Been out of it a bit lately, so I'll try to make up for it by posting a few photos from the greenhouses. First is a photo of an old specimen of Mammillaria schwarzii.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another wonderful Mammillaria, a cultivar of the old favorite M. camptotricha. This one is 'Madame Marnier', in which the spines are more curved. A real beauty.

Easter Greetings!

Did you realize that this is the earliest date for Easter that you will experience in your lifetime? The earliest date possible is March 22 and that won't happen now for a couple hundred years! Just what you always wanted to know, right?

We send our best wishes for a Happy Easter, or - if you don't celebrate Easter - belated wishes for a blessed Vernal Equinox -----or Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere!

Friday, March 21, 2008

More North Portland cacti

Yes, this is Portland. The homeowner's son brought some Opuntia from Nebraska and threw them under the tree. They spread and eventually crowded out the weeds. She lives in North Portland.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oreocereus trollii

Not exactly a new plant to most collectors, the "Old Man of the Mountains" is from Argentina and Bolivia. It's beautiful plant and quite easy to grow. Let the potting mix dry out between waterings and let it have a dry winter period. If dry, it can take temperatures down to around 20F. Grows to about two feet tall.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Out & Around in North Portland

A nice stand of Opuntia here in North Portland in the University Park neighborhood, growing on the Southeast side of the house.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mammillaria aureilanata

Another nice Mammillaria - M. aureilanata.. The largest genus in the cactus family, Mammillaria display a huge diversity. After raising them for nearly 40 years, we still enjoy them as much as ever.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

New Plant Images

The last few days I've been photographing some of the plants that we'll be adding to our nursery list as well as some that needed new images.
I always enjoy this. It gives me a chance to spend "quality time" with each get to know them a little better. So, thought I, why not share some of these "new friends" with you out in the blogosphere.
The first one I'll share is an old timer which we used to have under its old name "Mamilopsis", but now is simply "Mammillaria senilis." I just love the flowers - and the beautiful silver, hooked spines. Wow!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Things are popping up all over

These are fun times in the greenhouses. Flowers are appearing all over the place and beginning to show themselves. But over on the back table, a slower but fascinating process is exhibited. The Lithops are growing. As Meg Lynch, Horticulture editor, noted in her blog,
"On March 1...the green one, which I dubbed Gerard, “started to open a pinhole and that turned into a large oval-shaped separation and inside there are what look like tiny Gerards.” I had been hoping it was going to flower. But it was just going through the routine of a living stone: to shed its leaves each year, revealing new leaves inside. Sometimes they open to show more pairs than the last year, and form large clumps this way. (Gerard has held steady at two pairs.)
To me this is one of the most fantastic of growth processes around and never fails to amaze me.
But I guess I'm easily entertained. I can hear it now. "What do you do for entertainment?" "I go out and watch the Lithops grow!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm back!

I apologize for not posting anything for so long. Has it really been that long? I could say I've just been terribly busy, and that would be true, but not a valid excuse.

We just received a huge order of wholesale plants which we've been potting up - about 400 plants in two days...and more are coming. It's a lot of work, but it also allows me to spend more time with the plants and observe the plants budding up.

I'm back, and I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wow! Now that really draught tolerant!

An article in The Times of India describes a current exhibit of succulent plants, but do we really have to use the stereotypical common names that sometimes seem irresistible to some people. The "Golden Barrel" (Echinocactus grusonii) is described as "Chinocactus ...'Mother-in-law's Chair'"!

It also appears that they really grow them "hard" in India: "
Typically, a desert plant can survive more than 40 years without water."


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spring is Springing

We're just ending the worst cold snap we've had in a couple of years - 19 or 20F at night - but the signs of Spring are all around us. Bulbs are emerging: Snowdrops, daffodils, Iris -- some will be flowering (snowdrops, daffies) within a week or two. At the same time, the Banana Trees have been hit pretty hard, but they'll come back later this spring, and one of the Aloes we were experimenting with bit the dust.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Spring! Heating is just too expensive this year.

Now I know our cold is peanuts compared to some of you. Please, share your experience with growing succulents in cold weather areas. We'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Plant cleaning

A good reminder from the blog Stapenhorstbunne:
Remember plants accumulate dust as much as any other surface in your home. Clean plant leaves, especially succulent plants, with a damp cloth and cold water.
Have you ever done this? The other day I was at the dentist's office when I noticed the Sansevierias near the elevators. They were filthy. Reaching for the tissue in my pocket, and checking to make sure no-one was watching, I proceeded to clean every one of those leaves.

Oh...and by succulents, I don't think they mean to include most cacti!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Making another diet buck on succulent plants

Just what we need; another succulent plant being commercialized for diet use.

Apatrim, according to the story, is a "newly released diet pill" which contains an extract of Caralluma Fimbriata, a cactus-like plant widely grown in India where it is eaten as a vegetable and used as an ingredient in curries and chutneys.

What we can confirm is that Caralluma Fimbriata, like the South African "succulent" plant Hoodia Gordonii, has indeed been chewed for many years by Indian tribesmen during long hunts to suppress appetite and enhance endurance.

But from there, the breathless weight-loss claims for Apatrim not only become more suspect, but seem likely to ultimately involve its distributor, PatentHEALTH, LLC , with the judicial system.

And the battle of the diet scammers goes on. Referred to on one online site as "Indian Cactus," it may have appetite suppression properties, but demand for such can lead to so many negative effects. I guess one good side effect is that it might take away some of the demand for Hoodia.

I also noticed while browsing that on at least one "New Breakthrough in Dieting" website, a very nice photo by Gerald Barad on the Cactus-Mall, is used - probably without permission - and another photo identified as C. fimbriata is actualy Hoodia gordonii. O well, who really cares hey?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bringing Lotusland weirdness to Northwest Gardens

From the Seattle Times Home and Garden Section comes this observation about bringing a lush, "weird", succulent look to Northwest Gardens:
Hardy agaves and yuccas add spikiness and structure. There are even cactus that live through our winters if you provide good drainage, including the cartoon-shaped prickly pear (Opuntia cycloides).
I always like to see garden sections pointing out some of the succulent options for our area, but why be so limiting. There's so much more that's possible than yuccas and agaves and "prickly pear." And what's O. cycloides? I guess it's a variety of O. engelmannii. Though that name doesn't appear in Anderson's The Cactus Family, it does appear in a few limited on-line sites, but primarily as a variety. There are whole bunches of Opuntias which are hardy here. In our own neighborhood, I know of at least 8 different opuntias growing at people's homes (though I have no clue if any of them are O. cycloides).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Succulents in Anchorage

The Anchorage Daily News has a question and answer column today (where it's currently 12 F) with a Master Gardner, Fran Flint, who loves succulent plants. When asked how she got started in cacti, she said,
I am a lazy gardener, and cacti are really easy and really pretty cool, not to mention the fact that there are a lot of weird guys out there (meaning cactus, of course) with really great shapes and they are just an all-around fun sort of a plant. I am a really bad waterer and most of my plants must live in drought conditions, so cacti fit the bill. Besides, I really do love the textures and feel of them too.
Meaning cactus, of course! :-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lithops at Matthaei conservatory in Detroit

They've renovated the conservatory in Detroit and the Detroit Free Press highlights the Lithops collection. Calling them "Rock Stars" (I like that.), they comment that
Lithops come in various sizes, markings and colors, like mottled pink, brown and gray. Flat-topped and stout, they look like cute fireplugs or, possibly, distant relatives of SpongeBob SquarePants.
I'd never thought of them in that light, but I'll have to ask my granddaughter if she sees the resemblance. She's the expert on SpongeBob in our family. the article continues:
Lou Kilbert of West Bloomfield, president of the Michigan Cacti and Succulent Society, has raised many lithops in a greenhouse, but says the plants are difficult for the average home gardener to keep alive.
That may be true enough for the "average home gardener", Lou, but most of my cactus and succulent friends are anything but average home gardeners.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Wheeler County, Oregon

In the Wheeler County, Oregon web site, in their section of scenic drives, we read the following:
Another leg stretching excuse is to carefully prowl the slopes in search of the red blooms and sharp spines of hedgehog and prickly pear cactus. I meant it when I said carefully. Once I had been inclined to photograph the roadside flower bonanza when I experienced my first Oregon cactus; its piercing needles bayoneted my foot, right through my shoe!
Hmmm. Hedgehog cactus? In Oregon? Pediocacti, Opuntias, maybe Coryphanthas...but Echinocereus? Hey, any of you more experienced Oregon cactus explorers, help me out here! Though they could grow there, I don't know of any Echinocereus stands in the state. But, hey...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Soekeshof Gardens

Apparently this couple from Scotland is crazy enough about cacti & succulents to travel to South Africa and get married in Soekeshof Gardens, the largest collection of Succulent plants in South Africa. It contains the oldest cactus in S.A. (1910). (They appear to be standing next to a metal plant sculpture.) Find out more at Soekeshof Gardens.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Crazy Plant Lady

This from the "Crazy Plant Lady":
Every family has one and I happen to be yours. I have a small obsession with succulent plants. I research them, buy them, grow them, cultivate them and make them grow on anything and everything they will cling to.
And so she has created a unique form of wedding decor for her upcoming wedding: a succulent wreath.

It has a little growing to do, but, hey...Go for it "Crazy Plant Lady"!

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Guess Some of us are "Avant-gardists"?

From Luebeck, Germany comes the following comments about using plants for interior decoration:
'Avant-gardists will tend to pick strong plants that grow especially large,' says Klaus Wagener, a world champion florist from Minden.
Guenther Sator, a feng-shui expert based in Mattsee in Austria adds that avant-gardists love succulent plants because they grow in unusual shapes and are easy to care for.
'Thanks to their slow growth, you can retain their structural elements for a long time,' he adds. Smaller plants can be arranged in a glass bowl or ceramic block filled with sand, rocks and gnarled roots to create a miniature desert garden.
Cacti are another good idea. 'You create attractive views, scenery and niches by potting them in large earth toned, sand-filled pots,' says John Langley, a professional florist from Hamburg.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ohio Likes Succulents

A recent article in the Akron, Ohio Beacon Journal extols the beauty of succulent plants:
"Tired of blossoms in your flower garden that dazzle and sizzle but are quick to fade? Maybe it's time for some dependable succulents — the enduring plants that last through the good times but also, especially, the bad."
He then adds:
There's a growing appreciation among gardeners of plants ''for their shape and their form and their geometry and the elegance that comes with that, as opposed to the 'I just want to grow annuals' or 'Give me my petunias or roses,' '' said Debra Lee Baldwin of Escondido, Calif., author of Designing With Succulents (Timber Press, 2007).
I'll second that!