Tuesday, September 20, 2011

California Cactus Center Nursery, Pasadena, CA

California Cactus Center is an awesome nursery in Pasadena.  Their nursery is organized and clean.  It's a good idea if you're a succulent lover to take a day to visit the Huntington Botanical Gardens Desert Garden before you visit CCC to get some ideas on how you can design your residential xeriscape!  However if you aren't sure if a plant is okay to use in landscaping, the friendly staff members will be happy to answer all of your questions.

There selection of succulents is gigantic here, but why not buy something you can't buy at your local Home Depot or Lowes?  Like this Aloe ramossissima.  :)

I was afraid to ask them how much some of the plants were because I think their prices are on the high side.  Perhaps there is a high demand for succulents and cacti in the area and people in the local neighborhood have deep pockets.  Nevertheless, this is a great place to get some inspiration for succulent dish gardens.  We love succulents because they offer a very wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.  Look at this nice Discorea elephantipes:

They sold a couple of these plants that were a small fist size for $99 each.  The cauldex has fissured textures and makes you just want to touch it.  This guy will grow a vine, which sometimes people may consider putting it near a trellis so that it can climb up.  This is very slow growing so big ones are very expensive if someone is willing to sell them.

The plant below is called Euphorbia lactea variegata.  Now, I take it back.  On your lucky day, you may be able to find this at Home Depot for a very reasonable price.  Keep your eyes peeled.  This plant is a beautiful organic modern sculpture built by nature.  It looks very much like a piece of sea coral.

You can buy this at Home Depot but I just included it just for kicks.  This funny cactus is called Old Man of the Mountains (not to be confused with Old man of the Andes which is more green with curvy spines).  The rest is up to your own interpretation.  ;)

Try to say this ten times fast, "Operculicarya decaryi", from a 3/4 top view.

Now we are getting into a controversial area in the subject of Bonsai.  There is a term coined by Rudy Lime called S.M.O.L.A. which stands for succulents as a medium of living art, which brings us to a very interesting subject matter.  This is a recent phenomenon that can be called "American Bonsai."  The good news is that if you forget to water any of these succulent Bonsai for a couple of days, they will be A Okay!  In fact some prefer to be watered very little compared to traditional Bonsai in a well draining soil.  This is great news for Southern Californians.  The tiny leaves make this awesome plant look like a giant tree!  Here is a side view:

 The word "caudiciform" simply means large form.  These plants are also sometimes called "fat plants".  Some are very slow growing and some aren't.  I will now bombard you with one of my favorite caudiciforms called Fockea crispa and Fockea edulis.

These plants are rare so they are quite expensive!  I love the outer-worldly look of these plants and their movement.  I had to haggle the price down so that I could afford to buy a couple small ones shown below.  The awesome thing about CCC is that if you buy a pot and plant, they offer to pot it for you free of charge or if you feel inclined, you can do it yourself right there at their potting station, which is what I did. 

Fockea crispa looks the same as Fockea edulis except the edges of it's leaves are wavy.  Fockea edulis is considered to be the more rare plant.  CCC also has very nice pots, rocks, and toppings to dress your arrangement up.  Don't forget that the plant will take the shape of the pot over time so if you want a wide bodied plant, put it in a wide pot.  If you want it to grow the body downwards more, put it in a deeper pot.  Each time your re-pot these guys (each year or two), you can raise them a little bit to show off more of the fat body.  If you tilt the planting angle at every planting, eventually you can end up with a "reclining nude" style.  Take that traditional Bonsai!  :)  It's fun isn't it?

Overall, whether you buy something special or not, this place is definitely worth a visit because of their wonderful succulent Bonsai displays and rare plants.  To be honest, if you do plan to buy something, I recommend that you know what your Home Depot and Lowes stocks so that you don't pay premium for common succulents.  Do your homework and save more money!

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