Far Out Flora

Outer Sunset Super Garden

April 26, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 22 Comments

Sweet Succulent Planter

Last Friday before I headed to the San Francisco Botanical Garden I had to pay a bill, so I took a different route to the muni stop than normal to hit up a mailbox. I busted out my camera when I saw this awesome example of a succulent planter. Lots of different colors and textures, plants that are practically impossible to kill in our neighborhood and common enough people won’t steal them (succulent theft is a problem here).

Super Sweet Succulent Container

Then I saw this in front of the next house and kind of freaked out. Seriously? Agave attenuata ‘Kara’s Stripes’ and a bunch of other cool plants thoughtfully arranged in containers. There are tons of succulents in our hood, but not usually put together with this much care.

The Container Craziness Continues

Wholly crap, it doesn’t end! Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ looking hot next to a golden Sedum with a dark purple Aeonium backdrop. Then something crazy happened. The owner of the house was out front saying good-bye to visitors, saw me freaking out taking tons of pictures and invited me out back to check things out.


Look at the beautiful raised bed down the center full of edible greens! This is how I envisioned our garden in a perfect world, but we drew the line at messing with hardscaping. As renters you have to draw the line somewhere.

Kalanchoe 'Fang' & friends

Dudleya pulverulenta (I think)

Man, this is embarrassing. You’d think I could easily pick out the difference between D. pulverulenta and D. brittonii by now, but I can never tell unless the two are both next to each other. My guess is for D. pulverulenta since the leaves don’t seem as narrow as the brittonii.

Lettuce land

Echium candicans

Big thanks goes out to Alan who let me check this fabulous garden out. I didn’t get to meet his wife/garden designer, but she did an amazing job!



Puya Alert! Puya Alert!

April 23, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 12 Comments

Puya chilensis

Freaky Bromeliad alert! On Friday I went to the San Francisco Botanical Garden for what may have been the last time while living here in SF. I must have spent at least four hours walking around visiting all my favorite plants. While wandering around the CA Native section back by the greenhouses I ran in to Derek of Plantgasm finishing up his propagation volunteer time. I had seen these crazy Puyas getting ready to bloom maybe a month ago, so we headed over to see what was going on and check out succulent land one last time.

Puya chilensis I think

I couldn’t find a sign, so I’m guessing this is Puya chilensis. Anyone know for sure?


Puya alpestris

Puya alpestris is still blooming. It looks like the Puya venusta should be doing its thing in a couple weeks, too.


Matti and the Puya

I took this pic back on March 18th and the bloom pictured is now shot. The bud to the right is blooming right now.

The Succulent Garden

I hate to get all mushy and stuff, but the San Francisco Botanical Garden is where we received the majority of our plant education. Nearly three years ago Matti and I enrolled in Plant Identification class at City College with Malcolm Hillan, it changed our lives. We spent two semesters of Saturdays at the botanical garden from 9 to 1, learning anywhere from 12-15 plants per class. We had to learn it all including family name, genus, species, origin, zone, sun, water, and spelling counted on quizzes and tests. Matti and I were both pretty freaked out after the first class when we could barely remember all the details for our first plant California native, Platanus racemosa and knew we had 149 more plants to go. Thanks Malcolm and our favorite classmates Rene and Johanna for making it so much fun!

p.s. the CA Native section is going off right now, too!

Awesome April Bloom Day

April 15, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 9 Comments

Eschscholzia californica 'Red Chief'

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for the very last time from San Francisco. Thanks to everyone who came out for the big sale yesterday! It exceeded all our expectations so much so that we just added Monterey, Morro Bay and Santa Barbara as road trip stop overs on our way back to Wisconsin. We’re excited for one last garden hurrah down the coast before we go and my dream of visiting Lotusland is going to come true! The California native middle section is really rocking it out right now.

California Natives

Our Erysimum franciscanum var. crassifolium (big yellow San Francisco Wallflower) is still going strong.

Sisyrinchium bellum 'North Coast'

The blooms on this Sisyrinchium are ginormous!!! They’re even more purple-blue in real life, as this pic is pretty blown out.

Brugmansia sanguinea & the bee

I’ve been thinking about chopping off a chunk of this guy to bring back to Wisconsin. Sounds like  it’s easy to root in water and will do just fine in the summer.  We’ll just have to throw it in the basement every winter for a little nap.

Cerinthe major purpurascens

Happy Bloom Day!

Succulent Sale-O-Rama Saturday!

April 10, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 17 Comments


The garden is almost completely ripped out with the exception of some big herbaceous plants that wouldn’t deal well with being moved and the California natives. It still looks a million times better than when we moved in. Remember the mattress vine that ate half the yard and part of the house? Hopefully the remaining plants will be able to tough it out this summer with no water.  Anyways, if you haven’t heard we’re moving back to Wisconsin at the end of the month and selling off our massive succulent collection this Saturday. The sale starts at 9AM Saturday, April 14th at 1344 La Playa Street, SF CA. We’ve got more than just succulents, too! Lots of pots, tons of glass containers for making terrariums, beach rocks, chairs, yard art, books, shelves and much much more. Cuttings in 4″ pots (like the ones pictured above) will be $3 each, one gallons $5 and two gallons $10. The sale goes until 5PM.

Look at all the crap for sale!

You could become the proud new owner of a creepy plastic skeleton, rusty lunchbox full of Faucaria or a super overgrown box full of mystery Aeoniums and friends!

Rockin rock pots!

We’ve got lots more rocks than pictured here. I recommend busting out a festive can of spray paint to liven them up.

Purple Aeoniums

So here’s the deal. We didn’t have time to label anything, but we’ll be happy to ID stuff at the sale (some stuff we’re just not sure). I recommend asking me (Megan) as Matti may make something up. I win the geek award for plant ID, but there are quite a few plants we have that I may need to bust out the search field on our flickr stream to figure out in the following days. Feel free to take pics of stuff once you get home and post them on our facebook page for us to identify. We’d love to see pics of our plants in a couple months, too! I think the above Aeonium is some sort of arboreum hybrid, but we got a cutting or two at least four years ago. We’re only positive that it’s super cute and adds contrast pretty much anywhere.

Salamander spotted

While moving some huge pots around Matti found a few little salamanders hanging out. We haven’t seen any for at least a year. There will be way more plants available at the sale than pictured above. Hope to see you there!

P.S. We’re having a girl!

Butterfly in the Sky

April 8, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 4 Comments

Pipevine Swallowtail babies

Three years ago I tracked down an Aristolochia californica from Bay Natives at the SF Garden Show. I had dreams of Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars chomping on it, but so far they haven’t found it. I’ve heard it can take years… unless you get an awesome flickr message offering up babies in exchange for some food cuttings. On Friday we became proud parents of a hungry little group of caterpillars thanks to butterfly guru Timtastic (the link will take you to his sweet pics on flickr).

Anise swallowtail

Since we won’t be able to see our babies turn in to butterflies, Tim brought over a pair of Anise swallowtails to release out back. I got to hold them while they warmed up and took flight.

Anise swallowtail & Erysimum franciscanum var. crassifolium

For the rest of the day they hung out on our ginormous (we’re talking nearly five feet wide) San Francisco Wallflower, (Erysimum franciscanum var. crassifolium). As we rip apart the garden it’s a sunny site in the middle of the yard, that I know isn’t going anywhere. We’re leaving all the California natives except for the Dudleyas and Lewisias.

Collecting Aristolochia californica

Our Aristolochia californica is huge and happy! This is one of my favorite plants we have, so being able to raise caterpillars that will  use it is like a dream come true. That’s why I planted it. By the time we move, they’ll be big enough to release on the vine.

Caterpillar hotel

This is where the babies are living right now. They eat together in a big mass. So far they’ve gone through almost two leaves. I look at them at least once every three hours. They’re a great distraction to the stresses of packing and getting ready to move cross country in three weeks. I even made a butterfly garden pinterest board for Wisconsin. I admit it, I’m a pinterest addict. Where else would a find a recipe to make very realistic jello worms, or collect all my raised bed planter ideas in a pretty fashion? I’m starting all kinds of lists for plants I want to grow when we’re back in WI, too.

One last pretty pic

The Anise swallowtail hung out of the Phylica pubescens for a little bit. Thanks again to Tim for hooking us up! We’ll be posting lots of pics of all the plants and stuff we’ll have for the big plant sale soon.