Monday, November 9, 2009

Cactus happenings


Yesterday Matt and I went over to pick up some cacti, an Agave and Yuccas from John. John is always exceptionally generous with his plants and we loaded up the car with all sorts of new and cool stuff. And it is now clear to me that I have no idea what most of my cacti are, so I'll have to post some pics and try and get some hints.

First we planted 3 Yuccas to the side of the stairs (left). I don't know what kind they are but they are shortish, multi-trunked affairs and very cool. (UPDATE: John says they are Yucca recurvifolia)  Behind them I'll put a shrub of some sort that's about 6' wide and tall and quite dense, to block the view and sounds of the freeway and the view of the compost piles. Any suggestions? Must be extremely drought tolerant, enjoy 4-6 hours of hot sun and preferably be an evergreen perennial with yellow or white flowers.

Two plants that had been in that area were removed: a pink Hydrangea and the Wisteria. Neither of these has been thriving with the lack of water so if anyone wants them speak up: they are ready to rehome.


Next we tackled some cactus wall plantings. We removed the annual Euphorbia lathyrus (Gopher Purge) that was done for the year and moved the Sedum telephium "Autumn Delight" up to the cherry tree area. In the space left we put a Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia santa-rita) which has a lovely pinkish tinge. I moved a purplish ice plant to be in front of it, as well as a cutting of Calandrinia grandiflora (Rock Purslane) with the lovely pink flowers.

Another prickly pear, O. aciculata (Chenille Prickly Pear) we planted (above left) is new to me - it has long spikes coming from the middle of yellow puffs of what look like soft, fuzzy buttons on each pad. Cactus afficionados and local vandals though will tell you that these are dangerous. They're actually loosely-connected spines (called glochids) that work their way into your skin through two pairs of work gloves and create burning sores until you cut them out with a pair of sharp nail scissors. Ask me how I know this! It does make them very tricky to place in a pleasing layout - I'll have to get some kitchen tongs as John has advised. The species name "aciculata" comes from the Latin for "covered with small pins (that were used for headdress)".

A last prickly pear John gave is was O. acaulis - didn't get that planted yet. We did place a nice big Agave shawii in a prime spot, and an A. parryi too. Popped some other Opuntias in pots for safekeeping, did some weeding, turned the compost and called it a day.

1 comment:

  1. Great selection of plants, wish I could take your cast offs, but I'm much too far lol. Some yuccas actually thrive here, but they always look oddly out of place.

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