Saturday, March 26, 2016

California Dreamin' (the Ultimate Succulent nursery)

I have been very lucky over the last few years (thanks in large part to Woody Minnich--Cactus guru extraordinaire) to gain access and befriend many of the great nurseries of Southern California. I first met Peter Walkowiak and Inacia Matteus several years ago when I spoke to the San Diego chapter of the Cactus and Succulent Society: I was charmed by the hilltop setting of their home and nursery--and blown away by the plants in their collections and the superb plants Peter propagates to sell. The light was perfect for photography during my last stay at their home at the end of February and I took many pictures, most of which are below (and which are largely self-explanatory). They are mostly of Peter's vast collection of superbly grown and exhibited plants: I don't think there's a public garden in America that has better collections of both cacti and other succulents--grown to such large sizes and looking so healthy. Do linger a bit over these and realize that each of these thousands of plants has a history--botanical and personal...

The Ariocarpus were to die for!

I'm not going to even try to name names: a few faves may pop out now and again. If you're desperate to know--just go to any of the dozens of shows staged throughout the US by CSSA groups: they're all superb. And Peter exhibits in many (as well as having his garden and nursery on tour regularly)...

Mounds this size do not grow overnight...

I was especially pleased to see this terrific mounded Echinocereus trig. 'Inermis' which is endemic to Western Colorado (and perhaps a short ways into Utah)...

Just one small part of the production area: Peter only grows what others don't. They're all the best....

Aloinopsis malherbei

I love this picture with both of them absorbed, and the blooming euphorbs!

One of the seedframes brimming with new treasures!

A whopper of Sinningia leucotricha

With a smart phone for scale

Avonia quinaria subs. alstonii
I still want to call these Anacampseros. Not only are they great specimens, but the pots they're in are perfect.

You didn't see this one!

The euphorbias are out of this world,

One of the biggest Geraniaceae ever! And I'm not talking about Inacia!

I never dreamed the Medusoid euphorbias could be so variable before meeting Peter.

Wrong setting to catch the hummingbird

Peter putting plants back from after a meeting of the Palomar club
In addition to being the ultimate connoisseurs of growing, showing succulents, Peter and Inacia are deeply involved in their communities: Peter has been a leader in two of the largest Cactus clubs in the very epicenter of the art of growing these. He has volunteered at the San Diego Zoo's amazing Safari Park (I think their botanical exhibits are more interesting than the animals!). And he is a designer who's worked with many local gardeners creating exquisite gardens. Inacia loves the succulents and has her own collection, and has many other interests including being self described "Diva" of the local running clubs. I feel privileged to call these two my friends.


  1. I have seen and been awed by many of Peter's specimens on the trophy table at the Inter City show in LA. I know the name and the plants, but not the person. It's wonderful to see this post, thank you!

  2. Very cool to see.. The C+S world up here can never be so extensive without a massive heated greenhouse!

  3. After I covered all my spring bulbs and day lilies with anything I could find to prepare for the 25 degree F temperatures tonight I celebrated your post by taking my son to Home Depot and letting him buy himself a jade plant.

    1. Hope you squeaked by in the cold! I hate late spring frosts! Kids seem to have an affinity for succulents. We have had several child prodigies in our cactus club---maybe your son will be another?

    2. Honestly, the effort to cover everything seemed wasted. The forecasters had it wrong. It did not get as cold as predicted. I think by covering things I actually made them get exposed to colder temperatures because the relatively warm air was blocked from warming them up. The radiative heat loss caused things under a cover to be colder than things exposed to the relatively warmer air.

    3. Last night we had a low of 21 degree F with an 11 degree F wind-chill. I covered the spring flowers and daylilies again. The stuff I covered seems to have done just as well as the stuff left uncovered. There was one big exception. Some of the hostas had emerged and I did not cover them. All of the exposed tissue of the hostas appears to have burst from freezing. The emerging leaves were sticky from the leaking cell interiors. I hope this big old patch of hostas is not a total loss.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive