Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Southlands in July

Before heading out to Stanley Park last weekend, I decided a trip to Southlands was imperative. My dear friend Becca, who works there, was celebrating a birthday and so I had extra incentive to stop by for a birthday surprise. And boy was it a good day! I don't remember there to be as many agaves and plant lusts any other time.  And like most trips, I started my rounds in the happiest place of all, the agaves.

Why didn't I get this 'silver surfer' agave? I don't even remember. sad.

Perhaps it was that there were just so many of these little guys I didn't even know where to begin.  This one comes with a pup... and maybe a pet spider.

If you couldn't already tell, I'll have to be making a return agave trip.

Thankfully this brahea armata was tagged as not for sale... otherwise I might have had to break the bank.

But some plants require breaking the bank.

Oh how I wish I could tell you all I bought the big agave medio picta alba....

But I did get this little one!  It spoke to my heart.... it said "looouis I belong with you!"

Ouch! This is what I'm talking about! I love seeing opuntia.  The only problem is that I rarely see labelled opuntia! hmmm... any opuntia experts have an ID?

My secret wish is to have my very own opuntia ID"ing" angel on my shoulder.  One that would whisper into my ears ... "it's hardy, it will grow for you, you should buy it!"

Moving outside I was blinded with colour.  It's as though the phormiums have secret abilities to lure me.  It's always the color that stops me.  Then the form.  Then imagining just where it belongs in my garden.  And before long I consider not buying one, but all of them!  Thankfully with an agave in one hand and camera in the other I walked right on by.

But there were more.

and more.  "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming ...."  In other words, don't stop, keep walking.

Oh those canes... EPIC!

And what's this? A dwarf olive!!! And a beautiful one at that.  This might be worth a trip back for.  Imagine a beautiful terra cotta with a somewhat weathered look and this amazing little plant.

I can see it all now.  This is truly an inspired display.  Am I in Vancouver or Italy?

Moving to the shade section... Of course they would have plenty of dicksonia antarctica to tempt me with.

What's amazing is how Southlands provides equal pottery lust as plant lust.

Spotted - Scheffleras.  It says schefflera taiwaniana 'yuan shan' but I'm beginning to think it may be another variety.  Anyways, if anyone in Vancouver has been lusting after a schefflera, Southlands has two left!!

Remember me saying I needed more yucca 'bright star' in my life? Well this one definitely came home with me.

Air plant heaven.  Southlands always seems to have the best display of tillandsias around.  I wanted to bring them all home.  They are just so wonderfully creepy.

I should warn anyone that visits Southlands, it's impossible to leave without buying something.

I'm not a bromeliad whisperer ... yet.  I can see some major bromeliad purchases in my near future after walking through this greenhouse.

And I'll certainly be coming back for one of these wonderful hibiscus standards.

There can be some serious strategy in leaving some plants for next time.  That is, you guarantee next time comes quickly because you absolutely must have it!

I don't know that I have ever been to a nursery as beautiful as Southlands.  Everything is a feast for the eyes.

I could have filled that nursery cart many times over!! Next time. (I say that often, eh?)


  1. That nursery is quite impressive...glad I don't have that nearby!

    On one of your shoulders stands a small likeness of a landscape architect from New Mexico, saying, "how is that really going to fit into your design...have you planned it all out?" On your other shoulder stands a small likeness of a woman from Oregon, saying something different. Decisions...

    1. It is very dangerous having something so tempting close by. Luckily I cant afford most of the pottery do I just admire from afar. Most of it is imported from Europe from what I have seen.

      I could use a landscape designer on one shoulder and poky plant enthusiast on the other. It's not too far off actually from the conversation that goes on in my head. But usually the plant collector part of me wins out. If I were starting over I would have much more of a plan.

  2. Yeild to the woman from Oregon! The tacky gardener in Tacoma thinks that those reddish phormiums are calling your name - "Louis, we'd look really great with all the creamy goodness of your Yucca 'Bright Stars.' Take us home with you." And those pots, YUM! Go ahead, pull out a credit card or two, the world might end this year and if it did, wouldn't you want to be really happy during your last summer to garden? Of course you would. And that Agave... Who am I, you may ask? My friends call me Bub (short for Beelzebub.) What a great nursery visit! Does Thomas Hobbs still run Southlands?

    1. Oh those flax would look soooooo good with my bright stars!! most of those pots would get me a giant "declined." It would be fun to try though! Yes, Thomas Hobbs still runs that joint. It's amazing just out neat and tidy it is kept. The plants always look stunning as does everything else in the nursery. But I believe he moved out of Vancouver into Langley recently.

  3. Haha, David's comment had me laughing so hard I almost choked on my coffee. That little A. medio picta alba is pretty sweet. I've lost three of them now (two small, one big) and won't be falling for another one!

    I have a soft spot in my heart for Southlands because it's where I saw my first "for sale" Schefflera taiwaniana, the only thing that kept me from buying was the thought of having to relinquish it at the border.

    I share your frustration with poor Opunita labeling. I'm lucky because Cistus labels so well, but I think there is a real lack of knowledge about these plants out there in the world. Heck I love 'em and can't even tell you what most of them are.

    1. I hope my medio picta alba doesnt die!!! I'll have to give it some love... I didn't know they were finicky ones. Any pointers?

      Oh I'm happy you didn't take the chance on your schefflera at southlands, the thought of relinquishing something that beautiful would be emotionally scaring and tragic.

      As for the opuntias... there should be an app for that! It could be sorted by different characteristics... even include agaves and yuccas.

    2. Mr BSG is right, do not leave the A. medio picta alba outside, that much I do know. As for why mine all died I'm not sure. They never seemed as vigorous as other Agaves. I bought the large one from Cistus years ago, it was happy and healthy at the time but just began a slow decline. Leaves would turn grey and curl. Not like rot but something else. I sent a picture to the guys at Cactus Jungle (they ID a lot of issues on their blog) and they suggested I cut off all the dead and dying tissue and clean the areas with Neem. I did that plus repotted it with new clean soil. About a year later its gone. The small pups (one from my plant and another was a gift) both followed the same path. In my imaginary world the white stripe makes it a weaker plant, at least that's how I justify my failure.

      On to happier things! Opuntia humifusa, O. ellisiana, and O. cycloides have all done great for me outside. Also if you know someone around town (or don't know them!) and see Opuntia happily growing in their garden ask if you can have a pad or two. That's where I got some of my happiest, from a neighbor. Unfortunately I don't know what they are though...if you ever pass this way I'd be happy to give you a couple!

    3. thanks. That's interesting about your agave and sad. However, I can say that my agave cornerlius though it is growing happy now, took a turn for the ugly back in may. It was really weird. The plant seemed happy and healthy and then just started looking sad. It was sitting in a completely dry spot under the eaves near the front of the house and started looking saggy and stunted. Then the colors turned less vibrant.

      I know just the opuntia then! there is one that I always drive past and keep thinking to stop in and ask for a pad (Im a bit nervous they are going to think Im crazy ... heck I probably am :P ) Thanks for your kind offer of opuntia!!! I wonder if that would be allowed to cross back? probably, because its like a fruit without seed.

  4. On the Agave medio picta alba, I have two and they live in the Death Valley Shack in the winter. They will NOT take the PNW winter outside "note to self from Danger Garden"......

    But there are quite a few Opuntias out there that would live in your garden. I have a Master Gardener friend in New Jersey that sent me pads from her garden and she gardens in a zone 5. A few will take a zone 3, I think they would be a great addition to your garden.

    1. Maybe next year will be the year of the opuntia. I am working on a rather extensive list of plants that I will be ordering from Cistus next spring. I am rather excited. What are your favourite opuntias? and BTW thanks for the agave advice. It will overwinter with my agave cornelius and agave bovicornuta. Yikes, I need a greenhouse!!

    2. Be brave on asking for a pad or two, you know how gardeners are. We are happy to show with others. I too have pads that I would be happy to share with you. I have about 25 rooted and potted pads that are ready for new homes. Greenhouses.......I have a connection for those!

    3. I think I shall go ask for a few pads. Hopefully they are of the happy gardening sorts. Thanks for the offer on pads!!!! I'll test my luck around here first and see what happens :)