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.


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!

SF Botanical Garden is Blazing

February 9, 2012 by Matti | 17 Comments

Bomarea sp. - Climbing Alstroemeria

Bomarea sp. - Climbing Alstroemeria

Taking advantage of our warm weather here in SF, we headed to one of our GoTo spots for dazzling displays of color…the SF Botanical Garden at Strybing.  Speaking of gorgeous, this yellow bell-shape bloom above is a Bomarea species. It seems to meander in and out of the other cloud foresty shrubs while showing off its dense umbel of flowers.

Bomarea sp - Climbing Alstroemeria

Bomarea sp - Climbing Alstroemeria

Here’s another Bomarea buddy in a shade of reddish-orange. They have tuberous roots and belong to the Peruvian Lilly Family (Alstroemeriaceae).  Odd tidbit about Bomarea, the leaves are resupinate…that is, each leave twists from the base so that the top of the leaf is actually the underside.

Colletia ulicina - Cunco rojo

Colletia ulicina - Cunco Rojo

Colletia ulicina is another cloud forest bloomer found in Chile where locals call it Cunco Rojo. Those aren’t lime green leaves you’re seeing, they’re short spiny thorns…ouch. Oh…check it out, J.G. in S.F. has the sweet pic of Colletia ulicina. Wow!

Ribes - Currant

Ribes - Flowering Currant

Ahh, the Ribes are starting to pop…Cactus Jungle has a recent pic.  It’s a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

Roldana chapalensis - Groundsel
Roldana chapalensis – Groundsel

Roldana chapalensis is an intriguing shrub.  Frankly, I can’t remember ever seeing it before, but the large-scale blooms and odor caught my attention.  It had one of those guilty pleasure scents…I thought it smelled a little off, but couldn’t stop sniffing it.

Puya coerulea var. violacea - Dark Purple Puya

Puya coerulea var. violacea - Dark Purple Puya

The succulent section was looking glam.  These Puya coerulea var. violacea (Dark Purple Puya) were standing proud with their stiff, sharp and silver leaf blades.

Agave parryi var. parryi mescal and friends

Agave parryi var. parryi mescal and friends

Can’t get enough of this Agave parryi var. parryi mescal (on the bottom right).  Yes, the drought tolerant peeps are looking lush.

Wollemia nobilis - Wollemia Pine

Wollemia nobilis - Wollemia Pine

Okay, we’ve searched a couple times at Strybing looking for this Wollemia nobilis…aka the Wollemia Pine.  Well, we finally found it!  Yeah, we could have asked for directions, but that takes all the fun out of it.  BTW, the Wollemia Pine is pretty rare.  Check out an early post of one we found in the East Bay.



One last adorable show of color during our hike.  We couldn’t find an ID for it, but thought somebody probably knows what it is.  Any guesses on this purple bloomer?   Before we forget, Strybing is having a plant sale this Saturday Feb 11, great time to load up.

– Far Out Flora

SF Botanical Blooms

December 11, 2011 by Megan Speckmann | 5 Comments

Succulent Wonderland

The day after Thanksgiving I headed up to the foggy SF Botanical Garden to see what was happening. The succulent section is looking super sweet right now with all the Aloe arborescens freaking out. They’re starting to go nuts in gardens all over town right now, too. Winter Aloe bloom time is one of my favorite flower seasons. Check out the mega-giant Agave salmiana starting to shoot out a flower.

Montanoa grandiflora

Lots of crazy tree daisy action going on. This one smells like cupcakes. Sweet, sweet cupcakes. I think I stood in front of it for at least five minutes just sniffing. It’s right off the main path that goes by the succulent section at the bottom of the hill across from Puya hill.

Vertical Agave attenuata

I wish I had a rock wall of my very own to shove full of succulents.

Brugmansia sanguinea

I’m still obsessed with Brugmansia sanguinea. This one has some really nice coloration. Ours isn’t as deep red. I still get a little freaked out when I see how big our “little” guy could potentially get (I’m still in denial about its size).

Cuphea micropetala

There were masses of Cuphea micropetala blooming in the Exhibition Garden, which I often forget to visit.

Nerine bowdenii

Nerine bowdenii was going completely crazy in the South African section. There are masses and masses of it looking pretty all over the place.

Pretty Protea repens

One last pretty bloom. Check out our buddy Derek’s blog post on Plantgasm for more cool pics (he went the day after me). More pics from my visit are here on flickr, too.

Strybing All Day Long

November 22, 2011 by Matti | 3 Comments


Salpiglossis - Painted Tongue

Gotta love the SF Botanical Garden at Strybing. There’s always something to check out year round. How adorable is this Salpiglossis? Also known as Painted Tongue, it was popping in the beds. Found a great write up on Salpiglossis over at Life on the Balcony.

Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba'

Fuchsia boliviana

I’ve a love hate relationship with this Fuchsia. About a year ago gophers attacked and we lost a couple plants. Then requested you to help pick out our replacement plant. Well, the Fuchsia boliviana ‘Alba’ just squeaked in as the winner and I am a huge fan. However as I recall, F. b ‘Alba’ wasn’t available and we ended up planting F. boliviana instead…no Alba. Ours is getting big and I can always pop over to Strybing to get my Alba fix.

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

Every time I see Amaryllis belladonna, I think it’s gonna be the last of the season. Then I’ve got to bust out the camera and document. Just how late in the season will these guys bloom? Dirt Du Jour Northern California has an cool pick showing how it looks in the garden.

Dahlia tenuicaulis

Dahlia tenuicaulis - Tree Dahlia

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about this plant, Dahlia tenuicaulis (aka Tree Dahlia). Early last spring while up in Mendocino, I just missed seeing them in flower. I mean, can it really be…a Dahlia that is a tree. Well, it’s true. We even scored a couple plants this past summer, which we planted up in a big container and they’re just about to flush out its first bloom. I just hope that the wind doesn’t snap off the main trunk before ours flowers. There’s a mystery what color they’ll be as it was unmarked. Stay tuned.

Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’

Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’

So many Salvias…so little time. Glad Strybing has ample space to grow out a bunch of them including this Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’. Gorgeous contrast between the purple and green.

Melianthus major 'Purple Haze'

Melianthus major

We’re in the search for our own Melianthus major ‘Purple Haze’. So far no luck, but we’ve put out the feelers. I suspect that if we get off our seats and head down to a Strybing plant sale…we’ll likely find one. Until then, just need to drool over this guy.

Canna edulis

Canna edulis

Another dazzling display. Canna edulis you look like fireworks shooting off into the sky.

Crinum moorei

Crinum moorei

Frankly, I know nothing about Crinum moorei. I didn’t even know the name until I found the tag. (shh… don’t tell Megan). What I do know is that Derek over at Plantgasm has the Coolest time-laps video EVER! of it blooming. Man, that was the best 90 seconds I’ve spent in a long time. Thanks for doing what you do…Derek!

– Far Out Flora