Last month I was invited to attend a small, local plant group’s monthly meeting in the Los Angeles area. My wife and son were out of town that weekend, so what a great opportunity to stay at Disneyland with my 8-year-old daughter and the next morning attend the meeting and tour a “must-see collection of plants.” So how could I not attend the October Ti Society meeting at the home of Norm and Candy Nakanishi in Anaheim, CA?
Not surprisingly, it is never hard to find the home of a plant lover. No need for Google Maps once you are getting close.
Before touring Norm’s garden, greenhouses and shadehouses (yes, plural), I had a Ti Society meeting to attend. The Ti Society in LA is a self-admitted “make-shift” group of about 25 passionate plant-loving members. Most of these members are active in many other plant groups. It is an older group of people with a wealth of plant knowledge. I know I left the meeting wiser than when I arrived.
The Ti Society in LA raises money by members donating plants that in turn go up for auction. Here is president Kenneth Garlock (online moniker is “Tropical Ken”) trying to squeeze a bigger bid out of members on a Ti plant.
Once the meeting was over I had a chance to meet Norm and his wife Candy. It was than that I learned Norm is very active in many plant societies, not just the Ti Society. For example, he is currently the president of the Cool Growing Orchids Society. “Cool” being used in terms of climate, but yes, of course all orchids are also “cool.” Norm also informed me that his first foray into plant collecting was with cycads back in the ’60s while he was in high school. The man has been collecting plants for 50-some years and as you will see, he has an extensive collection of amazing plants.
Starting in the backyard, it is hard not to notice his cycads. Some have grown up from the seedling stage going back to the ’60s.
I believe this is either an Encephalartos natalensis or an Encephalartos altensteinii.
Coning Dioon spinulosum.
The colorful red male cones of an Encephalartos ferox.
I have yet to meet a cycad collector who doesn’t also have palms in their yard. Here is one from my favorite genus – Dypsis lanceolata.
Young, thin Wodyetia bifurcata with another Dioon spinulosum behind it. In the first picture of this blog post you can see two well-grown Wodyetia bifurcata.
A good view of the backyard from Norm’s gazebo. An unknown Sabal is centered.
Most likely a Trachycarpus fortunei to the left and what appears to be some sort of Phoenix hybrid to the right.
You could see from the last picture that Norm has mounted a few Platycerium to palm trunks.
When a plant collector starts to run out of room to plant things in the ground, what does s/he do? Put stuff in pots, of course.
I really liked this branch draped with Tillandsia usneoides that you had to walk under to get to the bench. I need to add more Spanish moss to my yard.
An old Weeping Mulberry.
I asked Norm, but he didn’t recall what species of Schefflera the leaf in the top is from. I would love to find out and track one down for my own yard.
What garden is complete without a koi pond?
The walkway along the side of the house shows the devotion of a true collector. To the right you see one of Norm’s greenhouses.
The inside of the greenhouse is loaded with orchids and bromeliads. Everything is hand watered in both his greenhouse and the shadehouse at his home.
A few orchids were in flower like this beauty.
One shadehouse was loaded with Begonias.
A whole bunch of everything shadehouse, including some flowering bromeliads.
So that concludes the Ti Society garden tour of Norm and Candy Nakanishi’s residence. Or does it?
OK, so I was in for a surprise. I have seen a lot in my 10+ years of touring different people’s gardens, but I wasn’t ready for the fact that Nom still had two other rental houses he owned right next to each other that he used to spread his plant addiction. A small group boarded Norm’s van and headed down the road to continue our tour. Like his main house, it wasn’t hard to spot his rental homes either. A large Macrozamia johnsonii and Cycas thouarsii helped give it away.
Norm’s other two properties were loaded with shadehouses. I actually lost count of how many he had. But the size of them and the amount of plants housed in them were amazing. His bromeliad shadehouses were the most impressive to me. I can’t imagine the amount of time and effort it takes Norm to keep all these bromeliads this clean.
I have become quite the fan of bromeliads recently and have been adding many different kinds to my own garden. It is with such colorful varieties as these Aechmea that they easily win you over.
He didn’t just have shadehouses for bromeliads, he had a shadehouse for Cymbidium orchids, Clivias and even cycads (Zamia furfuracea). As you can see from the pictures below, no space is wasted. When you run out of room horizontally, you move to vertical. Pots with ferns and bromeliads hanging from the shadehouse helped occupy more growing real estate.
This picture gives you and idea about how large these shadehouses were and the variety of plant material Norm has collected over the years. Remember too, this is not some retail nursery he is running. This is mostly his private collection.
Coleus was another of Norm’s passions. A lot of color in this photo.
I found this beautiful orchid in flower in one of the shadehouses even though it is not blooming season.
How does Norm water and fertilize all this by himself? For fertilizer, he uses a Dosatron to inject liquid fertilizer into the irrigation. I too use a Dosatron for my greenhouse and it really makes things a lot easier when fertilizing a bunch of plants in pots.
Norm’s greenhouse and shadehouse at his main home are watered all by hand. These large shadehouses at his two rental properties are water both by hand and overhead with a timer.
Here we finally get to meet Norm. He has been growing cycads longer than any other plant group, so it stood to reason he would have a lot of them in containers.
Rows and rows of Dioon edule.
Norm had many cycads planted in the ground here as well. In addition to numerous flowering plumeria. That fern-like tree to the left is a Schizolobium parahyba. These are very fast growing trees from Brazil and a favorite of palm tree and tropical gardeners for their quick growth and the filtered shade they provide. Guessing here, but that Schizolobium parahyba is most likely just a few years old.
I didn’t write down the names of these plumeria varieties, plus Norm didn’t have the name on most anyway. I wish my plumerias were as colorful and sunfast as these varieties.
So this really concludes the Ti Society tour of Norm and Candy Nakanishi’s garden. I would like to thank both for opening up their garden(s) for me and my daughter and for allowing me to show their passion online. I would also like to thank Ken Garlock for the invite.
Before heading back to San Diego, I enlisted the help of my now “over-it” 8-year-old daughter to get some of the loot I had won at the auction back to the car. She is always such a trooper when accompanying me on these tours. They ALWAYS end up being much longer than I tell her they will be.
The Ti Society meets the first Saturday of each month during the warmer times of the year (April – November). If you are looking for another great opportunity to meet fellow plant lovers, bid on some new plants for your collection, or just want to tour some more tropical gardens, the Ti Society is an open group that loves visitors. Please contact Kenneth Garlock <tropicalkenn at sbcglobal.net> for more details.