Far Out Flora

Super SF Botanical Garden

March 23, 2013 by Megan Speckmann | 6 Comments

Puya alpestris

We couldn’t miss out on the SF Botanical Garden when we were back in town for a visit. I think the Puya alpestris pictured above is blooming right now, so you should go check it out. Check out our blog about the Puya insanity at SFBG last year.

Zoe & the Kniphofias

Zoe loves traveling around in the Ergo. It’s pretty amazing to be able to nurse and walk around looking at plants without anything hanging out.

Aloe busting out of a rock wall

Aloe plicatilis

The CA Native section was starting to get all flowery.


Gardens by Gabriel, Central Coast Gardening God

March 12, 2013 by Megan Speckmann | 13 Comments

On the way to Wisconsin: Megan, Kaveh, Gabriel & Matti

Back in late April 2012 we were hanging out on the Central Coast checking out some of the coolest succulent gardens around with Gabriel (Gardens by Gabriel) & Kaveh (Plant Propaganda) on our way back to Wisconsin. We took tons of pics, but haven’t blogged much about our trip back to dairyland. It was too sad for me to look at all the plants I thought I’d never be able to grow again. Now that we’re moving back it’s fun to look at all our pics of plants again.  Big thanks to Kaveh for hooking us up with Gabriel’s totally rad gardens! We’ll be definitely be down for a visit once we’re back. *Not all gardens pictured below are Gabriel’s. The first two are Nick Wilkinson owner of Grow Nursery in Cambria. You guys are both gardening gods!

Beach succulents

I think those octopus like aloes are Aloe vanbalenii, but I’m not sure. I am really, really sure I want one. Here are a few more of my favorite pics from the tour below, but you can check them all out on flickr here.

Dudleya fun

Aloetastic Berkeley

March 8, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 7 Comments

Aloe freakout

It had been over a year since we last checked out UC Botanical Gardens Berkeley, so we decided to  go cross a bridge to take a look recently. The Aloes were looking fine, along with a slew of other South African natives that get their freak on this time of the year. I’m not even sure which Aloe this one is. Anyone know? One of my favorite things about this garden is how well marked all the plants are, but in my plant gawking giddiness I must have forgotten to take a pic of the tag.

Aloe marlothii

This was the first time I’d ever seen this Aloe all grown up and flowering in real life. Love the orangey gold blooms. We’ve got a itty bitty baby version out back. It’s been a slow poke in the growing department.

Aloe abyssinica

I’d never even heard of Aloe abyssinica before. It’s frolicking with the some purple Babianas.


Aloe speciosa

I’m a big fan of Aloe speciosa even when it’s not in bloom, but dang those flowers are cool.

Aloe castanea

Aloe capitata var quartziticola

This is my new favorite Aloe I never knew existed. The floopy flowers are just too cute.

Aloe capitata var quartziticola

Aloe species

One last Aloe thats tag listed it as “Aloe sp.” looks like A. ferox but without a positive identification tag I’m not going to assume. If you’re an Aloe aficionado this is a great time to go check them out, plus tons of cool South African bulbs are starting to do their thing right now, too. There were Ferrarias going nuts all over the place.

Succulent Circle

January 25, 2012 by Matti | 24 Comments

Succulent Circle (after)

Succulent Circle (after)

We’ve been eyeballing this project all last summer.  Just down the road from us along the Great Highway, there are some old garden plots marked by narrow one-foot concrete borders.  Most of them are abandoned and overgrow, but I remember that this garden circle was re-established about 2 years ago mostly with succulents.  You can see above what a 30 minute cleanup can accomplish…below is what this succulent circle was looking like before we popped in.

Before...end of summer.

Before...end of summer.

These garden circles have a lot of challenges to overcome.  First, it doesn’t rain here in San Francisco during the summer.  The only irrigation they see is the fog drip that rolls in around May and lingers until Fogust (August is the foggiest month).  Second, salty winds can be fierce here.  This garden is only a stones throw to the ocean and lots of salt spray can be found in the air.  Lastly, it all sandy soil in these parts.  Sometime so much sand blows in, that they close down the Great Highway until the sand plows can get it removed.

Car full of succulents.

Car full of succulents.

We loaded up the car with some of our succulent cuttings and that giant agave baby from out backyard (mostly crassula, sedum, aloe and aeoniums).  They all should do pretty well in the well draining sandy soil and summer drought.  I’m not certain about the salt in the air, but we see these types of plants growing nearby. I’d say these new succulents have high odds of surviving.

Almost done.

Almost done.

In about 30 minutes, we weeded out the crap, shifted some of the existing plants around, and planted most of our cuttings and that big fatty Agave americana.  There was so much sand piled up on this dune, that we really couldn’t get the concrete circle to expose…but that could be another project day.

Two months later.

Two months later.

After a slow start, it finally started raining this winter and this succulent circle should start looking lusher.  We can’t wait to check in over the next couple of months to see how it’s coming along.

— Far Out Flora

Aloe and Baby Tears Don’t Mix

October 12, 2011 by Matti | 13 Comments

Succulents Wonderland

Succulents Wonderland.

Back, oh say…shortly after moving to SF, I had to have Baby’s Tears in the garden. It was part of my ‘I heart ground cover’ phase. Not long after planting the Tears, it aggressively started taking over. Seeing a rock encrusted with moss is one thing, but seeing all your succulent babies engulfed in Baby Tears is not cool. So the battle began and only a couple months later…we pretty much irradiated it by delicately pulling it out. However, one Aloe still has a bunch of it nestled within it. Take a look above, just off center to the left. That’s the Aloe that no matter how much I try, I can’t get rid of the Baby’s Tears by weeding alone. Time to pull it out and salvage what I can.

Aloe species with Baby's Tears

Aloe species with Baby

Here’s a detail. Man, I’ve shed a lot of blood trying to pull the Babys Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii Correction…maybe S nobilis…let’s just say species) out those sharp pokey thorns.

Aloe ripped out.

Aloe ripped out.

After digging it out, I gleaned out all the tiny bits of Baby Tears. It seems that even the smallest chunk readily grows back into a lush plant. Yeah…if that’s what you want, Boo…if you’re trying to get rid of it.

Aloe with Baby's Tears

Aloe with Baby

Nice clumper this succulent. For the life of me…we couldn’t find the name for this Aloe and have no idea where we got it. We even put out a SOS to a Flickr group for possible ID. The only response we got was from Bárbol thinking it may be Aloe jucunda. Any other guesses out there?

Baby's Tears

Baby Tears.

This large mass o Baby’s Tears was nestled deep within the Aloe clump. Never would have eliminated all of it without pulling the Aloe apart.

Blue Angels

Blue Angels

BTW, it was a noisy weekend gardening. See up in the sky there? Those aren’t birds…they’re The Blue Angles. All day they were buzzing the skies. It’s really creepy hearing the deafening roar of fighter jets overhead. Every year about this time, they put on an airplane show down in Fisherman’s Wharf for Fleet Week. William M Briggs has a good post about the event.

After the replanting.

After the replanting.

In the ended, I replanted three Aloe rosettes in the same spot. The rest are being saved for another project we hope to pull off this weekend. I have my fingers crossed; wish me luck that all the Tears have gone away.

Hey, you can stay up-to-date with us on Facebook.

— Far Out Flora