Archive for March, 2012

My quest to find two succulents that look identical from completely different genera

Echeveria Compton Carousel VS Aeonium Sunburst

I’ve been on the hunt looking for these mysterious plant with cream and green variegated leaves with some leaves only cream colored (like an albino).  I saw them very infrequently and almost not at all at stores. Even if they were at stores the price would be too steep. I did manage to get a cutting in Monterey, which I am waiting to plant. I also purchased the Aeonium Sunburst at the SF Garden Show last weekend (for $5 – not bad). It’s pretty small.

I did do some research on the net and learned more about the plants I was seeking out.

Reading the descriptions below, there are two main ways to identify the plants from one other. The echeveria grows in small tight clumps and doesn’t get tall, whereas the aeonium will get 1-2 feet tall with branches of new rosettes extending out of the main stem. The echeveria will flower yellow and red blossoms and the aeonium will flower white blossoms.

Here are the two plants that are very confusing for me to identify:

Echeveria Secunda “Compton Carousel”

Category: Succulent
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrops)
Origin: Mexico
Flower Color: Red & Yellow
Bloom Time: Summer
Synonyms: Lenore Dean
Height: < 1 Foot
Width: Clumping
Exposure: Sund or Shade
Drought Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation: Low water needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F

The Aeonium Sunburst or Copper Pinwheel

Aeonium Sunburst

Category: Succulent
Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrops)
Origin: Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean)

The Canary Islands

Variegated Foliage: Yes
Flower color: White
Boomtime: Summer
Synonyms: Decorum triculor, Luteoveriegatum
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Drought Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation: Low water needs
Winter hardiness: 25-30 F

Aeonium Variegata, Aeonium 'Suncup', Aeonium castello-paivae f. variegata

Young Aeonium Sunburst Cristata

Aeonium Sunburst Cristata with Fanning Stem

Silicon Valley Gardeners, prepare for March 31st for a plant shopping extravaganza!

March 31st is going to be an extremely fun day in San Jose because both the Master Gardener’s Spring Market and the CSSSJ’s Plant Sale will be held.  Unfortunately they will be at different locations, but maybe next year they can iron out that detail!  Please pass on this info to any friends whom you think may be interested.  These events happen only annually!

Here are the event details:

Spring Garden Market

A great event to buy heirloom varieties of baby plants, a huge variety of flowers, and herbs.  I will be volunteering at the California Native Garden Foundation booth!  Come by and say hi!

Time open: 9am-2 pm.


History San José
1650 Senter Road
San José, CA 95112

Cactus and Succulent Plant Sale

I love the Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose.  What an interesting group of folks!  They are totally obsessed with finding or growing from seed these highly unusual species of cacti and succulents!  They’re such nice people too and always willing to answer questions without being overly technical.  Come to this sale if you are looking for unusual plants…I guarantee you’ll find some.  I’m sure they will have your basic succulents and cacti as well that might be more forgiving to a beginner.  But remember don’t over water the cacti and succulents!

Time open: 9am-5pm.  Also open on April 1st from 10am-4pm.


Marian A. Peterson Middle School
1380 Rosalia Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Beneficial Insects Poster By UC Davis

Click on the link to download

PDF Download

What are you? Unusual insect visits my garden.

The Soldier's a beneficial insect that eats aphids and their larvae! Woot woot!

The short & sweet story of a beautiful city girl coming to grow affection for a prickly cactus

Pretty much every other day I step into my roof top garden in this fabulous spring season, I find new growth, new blossoms, or buds popping up.  It’s so much fun to look forward to!  Today I was watering my plants as usual and monitoring the insects (good and bad) that visit my plants.  I found such a cool surprise!  I had gotten this cactus as a party favor in December (2.5 months ago) at the Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose (CSSSJ) holiday party and now it is about to bloom!  I never liked cacti and this specimen is the only one I own.  I couldn’t help the smile on my face when I saw these itty bitty buds on top of such a forbidding looking plant naturally engineered to cause pain.  Now, we wait for the buds to bloom!

Echinofossulocactus Multicostatus

Echinofossulocactus Multicostatus Profile

My current California Native Plant collection

It’s a work in progress!  I love adding to my California Native plant selection.  If you love California, you must start your own native plant collection too!

Here are reasons why to go native (courtesy of California Native Plant Society)

Native vegetation evolved to live with the local climate, soil types, and animals. This long process brings us several gardening advantages.

  • Save Water:
    Once established, many native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall.
  • Low Maintenance:
    Low maintenance landscaping methods are a natural fit with native plants that are already adapted to the local environment. Look forward to using less water, little to no fertilizer, little to no pesticides, less pruning, and less of your time.
  • Pesticide Freedom:
    Native plants have developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases. Since most pesticides kill indiscriminately, beneficial insects become secondary targets in the fight against pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use lets natural pest control take over and keeps garden toxins out of our creeks and watersheds.
  • Wildlife Viewing:
    Native plants, birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, and interesting critters are “made for each other.” Research shows that native wildlife prefers native plants.
  • Support Local Ecology:
    As development replaces natural habitats, planting gardens, parks, and roadsides with California natives can provide a “bridge” to nearby remaining wildlands.

Where can you buy natives?  I’ll tell you, I haven’t been lucky at Home Depot, OSH, or Lowe’s yet (although they have great plants for other purposes too).

Here are favorite two local nurseries for natives that I like to shop at:

Middlebrook Gardens

I’m a little biased, because these are the folks who really turned me on to Native California plants!  Alrie Middlebrook and her team are Experts at native plants!  They have been in business for a long time and know their plants!  They are extremely helpful and approachable.  Their nursery provides a great selection that represents several habitats and accompanying plants.  That is helpful when you’re trying to find plants for certain micro climates in your yard/patio.

Check out their website:

Summerwinds Nursery

I love Summerwinds because they have beautiful pottery and a huge selection of plants.  Their selection of natives hasn’t been replenished yet but I can’t wait to see more salvias at the store soon!  Dan, their native plant specialist was very helpful to me yesterday and is going to help me build my Dudleya collection as they become available.  They have shrubs that are native also, but as a container gardener, I don’t find shrubs to be practical or very attractive.

Check out their website:

Enjoy your natives and party on!

Hiking and Identifying Native Plants in Point Lobos

I planned this wonderful trip with Henrik down in Monterey.  And my was it a fun filled activity packed weekend!  We  first met up with my friends Raul and Kelly on Friday night to have dinner at Passionfish which is a famous local seafood restaurant.  We had a fantastic time as I always do with Raul and Kelleeeh.  When the four of us get together, we make quite a ruckus where ever we go!  🙂  The next morning Henrik brewed us some fresh coffee and off we went, sans breakfast, down 1 South.  I was surprised how close our destination was to the Carmel Barnyard/Crossroads off 1.  Even though I have lived in Monterey during my high school years, I had never been to Point Lobos!  So we got in with no issue and were notified that our $9 admission would also get us in free to any of the other parks close by.  It was heavenly!  Point Lobos is sooo beautiful!  I took lots of photos as you can see!

I’m still learning about my native California plants.  I have signed up with which has helped immensely in identifying plants.  Trouble is, being so inexperienced at this, and with the plants not all having bloomed, the pictures are a little more difficult to identify.  So any help would be extremely appreciated!

I’ll tell you though, I’m hooked on Dudleyas!  I found that patch of beach plants at the Del Monte Blvd Exit in Seaside was a really interesting community of Sea Thrifts (Armeria Maritima) and lots of Dudleya Cymosas.  I later figured out that I had also seen Dudleya Edulis, which I mistook for being related to the ice plants that have taken over as a non native.  I have also been able to identify Dudleya Farinosa that I found in Point Lobos.

I also enjoy Salvias.  There is a large variety of native salvias and I only own one.  Again, I found large bushes of salvias in Point Lobos, but because they haven’t bloomed yet, it was impossible for me to identify them.

%d bloggers like this: