Eunice had to deliver a few plants to a friend, Kelly Griffin, at a large nursery of mainly HUGE Agave and Aloes. So we were happy to exercise our cameras while Eunice disappeared into the office (S1233). Again, we were completely taken aback by the size of the operation and plants. There were some large plants of Beaucarnea recurvata for sale. ‘How much would this one cost?’ we asked a passing sales consultant. ‘Between US$ 4,500 and $ 6,000, depending on size.’ came the answer – so add another issue that took us by surprise – how many people can afford to buy such giants in today’s financial climate? Plenty, it seems – mainly landscape gardeners who buy on behalf of their customers. As there were plenty of Aloe in flower, it was not long before Cliff spotted a hummingbird – something different for us to point our cameras at. Hummingbirds always get a loud ‘Oooooh!’ when their pictures are included in talks in Europe – we don’t have Hummingbirds in nature, you see.
We were leaving the car park when Eunice’s phone rang. Her friend, who had been out in the nursery (they use motorised electric cars, like golf cart trolleys, to get around the site!), was back and invited us back for a quick tour. He is Kelly Griffin, another grower famous for his Aloe hybrids – just put ‘Kelly Griffin Hybrids’ into a Google Search and be amazed!
I’m not really aware of a great interest in such hybrids in the UK or in Europe in general but apparently (and predictably) they’re big in Japan. And the focus appears to be on miniature Aloes, with plants that are unlikely to outgrow a 7 cm (3″) pot, so that they can be grown on the windowsill. We were then treated to an extensive guided tour, while hanging on for dear life on the back of the trolley – must have been a hybrid: a 4×4 Toyota model crossed with a Formula 1 racing car! (PS: 2015 – The popularity of miniature hybrid Aloes has greatly increased in Europe since 2009. But it seems that some of the Kelly Griffin or Karen Zimmerman hybrids may be appearing under different names, perhaps avoiding licence fees.)
One problem with being allowed into the inner sanctum for something that you know very little about, is that you don’t know when to be amazed at the ‘correct’ plant. We had the same problem with cycads yesterday.
We moved on to El Cajon for another visit to Juergen Menzel (S1234), who had given us some useful location tips for Baja last year. We were becoming known for being ‘fashionably late’ but this time we were 3:30 hours late! ‘Fashionable, bordering on the ridiculous!’ It took visits to Bolivia (January 2008),Chile, Argentina (both in December 2008) and Peru (January 2009) to get pictures of Neowerdermannia in habitat in all four countries; but it took a visit to El Cajon, CA to get pictures of a Neowerdermannia in flower! Another plant in flower was one of Juergen’s clones of a natural hybrid between Coleocephalocereus and a Discocactus that had been received in a batch by C&Js a while back. The flower seems to confirm Discocactus as one of the parents, but it had flowered last night and seemed ready to have another go
tonight! Most un-Disco-like, as usually they are ‘one-night-stands’.
We had passed an area with lots of Dudleya pulverulenta and had ear-marked it for a stop on the way back (S1235). Again, the plants were ideal photo subjects, perched on rocks in the late afternoon sunshine (yes, another sunny day!). As if out to disprove the theory I offered yesterday, that this taxon usually grows in the same habitat with D. lanceolata, only the white farinaed plant with broad leaves were seen. Perhaps we did not look hard and long enough.
As you might have guessed, we finished with yet ‘another-bloody-sunset’ stp (S1236), this time at San Clemente Beach.