Every late spring the San Diego Botanical Garden has a Palm, Cycad, Bamboo and Tropical Plant Sale. This year it was held May 31st. Because I enjoy going to the San Diego Botanical Garden so much I try to time one of my visits with this sale. It really is a great time to see a bunch of rare flowering trees in bloom while at the same time seeing what venders show up to sell plants. Unfortunately, each year the sale gets smaller and smaller. When I first started attending, the parking lot would be full of different plant venders and parking was impossible if you were not there when it first opened. Fast forward to this year and only three venders were there—and due to the smaller plant vender turnout, the amount of people that used to show up has shrunk as well. It is rather unfortunate.
The one vender that has been there each and every year since I have been attending is Jungle Music. Phil Bergman puts a lot of effort into these sales and he seems to be the one guy left putting together quality options at the sale. Phil always brings a nice selection of palm trees, cycads and tropical companion plants. He also has one or two people helping with the sale who are very knowledgable about all the plants they offer.
The other two venders that showed up were the Palm and Cycad Exchange run by Keith Huber, and Bamboo Headquarters. Hopefully these three venders made some money at the sale because if not, it might just be me at the sale next year.
Well, I had hoped to cover the sale and the venders for this blog post, but to be perfectly honest, I was bored. There just wasn’t anything to keep my attention, let lone come up with a blog post on. So I went and toured the San Diego Botanical Garden with my less-than-motivated 8-year-old sidekick. As I mentioned earlier, spring is a great time to tour the gardens, as there are many flowering trees in bloom. Here are just a few of my favorites.
This is Schotia brachypetala (Tree Fuchsia). Schotia brachypetala is a smaller, ornamental tree from South Africa. It is great for smaller yards, and in our climate it can be a slow grower. Like many South African plants, the Tree Fuchsia can adapt to dry climates, which makes it a candidate to be grown more in water-conscious gardens.
Interesting fact: You can boil the bark and drink the liquid to treat heartburn and hangovers.
This is Castanospermum australe (Moreton Bay Chestnut). Castanospermum austral is another slow grower, but with time it gets to be a large campy tree here in Mediterranean climates. The selling point for this Australian native is the way the orange and yellow pea-shaped flowers grow off its stems. Another selling point is that this broad leaf tree is a true evergreen.
Interesting fact: The seeds are poisonous to pets and humans. So don’t eat them!
The orange bell-shaped flowers you see below belong to Radermachera ignea (Tree Jasmine and Pip Thong). This Thai native is also a slow grower and will not handle hard frost or a freeze. It does great in frost-free areas of Southern California but is seldom seen due to its rarity.
Interesting fact: I am growing Radermachera ignea from seed right now.
Calodendrum capense (Cape Chestnut) is one of my favorite flowering trees we can grow in Southern California. I just love how the candelabra-like flower display shows against the shinny, dark green leaves.
Interesting fact: This tree can be finicky in the garden. Mine, for example, has been planted out for 8 years now and was most likely at least 5 years old upon purchase. It has yet to flower for me. It also drops all its leaves a few times throughout the year for some reason unbeknownst to me. Unfortunately, I have given up on mine and it has been given a death sentence to be administered next spring.
Well, I actually thought I had a few more photos of some other flowering trees but I guess that was it. Here are some random shots I took walking around the garden. I need to remind you, I had my 8-year-old son asking if we could go home every five minutes. So the tour was much shorter than I would have preferred.
Part of the San Diego Botanical Garden’s dessert garden display.
The Bamboo Garden.
Bismarckia Palm and a large trunking Encephalartos cycad.
More African cycads boarding the walkway.
My favorite area of the San Diego Botanical Garden of course – the tropics.
If you are not looking up, you would miss all the epiphytes that are planted in the tropical displays.
Not sure what else to call this other than the “Succulent Mariachi Band Display”.
This is a really nice form of Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’.
The last photo I have for this post is of Cryosophila warscewiczii (Rootspine Palm). This Central American palm tree is tropical in origin but does surprisingly well here in our climate as long as you can keep it protected from frost and winds. I am currently growing Cryosophila stauracantha in my garden with great success.
I wanted to mention one more thing while closing out this post. If you look at the photo above, a keen eye will notice that the popups that the San Diego Botanical Garden uses are the Hunter MP Rotators. As I will write about many times in my blog, I am a huge fan of these and use them in my yard. However, you must be careful planning when replacing the old fashioned popups landscapers put in. I have noticed a lot of plants suffering from lack of water in the botanical garden and I attribute it to the MP Rotators used. Hunter advertises 30% less water use when you switch, and I believe it to be true from experience. So if you have areas in your garden where you have water-loving plants, you must take this into account. From what I have noticed, the curators at the San Diego Botanical Garden have not done such in many parts of the garden. I understand why the switch was made. We are in a drought, after all, and water rates have sky-rocketed. But when you are responsible for old and rare plants, you need to be aware what a drastic drop of 30% water can do to certain plants.