There’s a nursery near my home aptly named Desert Theater. It’s nine acres of big, bold, dramatic, over-the-top succulents and cacti. It’s one of the nurseries I enjoy taking people to, because they’re invariably amazed. It’s a photographer’s feast any day of the year, but my favorite time to go is mid-winter when large aloes come into bloom. Aloes are native to parts of Africa that have a similar climate to Southern California’s. Owner Brandon Bullard is a plant wizard, but he has yet to give these hybrids names. I suspect most have in their lineage Aloe ferox, Aloe marlothii, Aloe africana, Aloe speciosa and/or Aloe castanea. This double-colored, cream and rose flower is typical of Aloe speciosa…except this one has shorter stems and the flowers that line the bloom spike are not as tightly packed. And the flower heads aren’t tilted, which also is characteristic of the species. And these look sort of like Aloe africana. They’re the right color, but Aloe africana flower spikes are pointed, and the lower part frills outward like a skirt. The plant and the shape of the flower spikes suggest Aloe ferox, but the flowers are the wrong color. Aloe ferox flowers are rose-red to shades of orange. I wonder what contributed the cream? Again, a guess: Aloe ferox x Aloe speciosa? And pale green flowers tinged with orange? I have no idea! Another mystery medley, with some euphorbias on the left. Don’t you love the violet leaves in the foreground? I vote for naming this one Aloe ‘Peaches and Cream’. And what about this one? Aloe ‘Corncob’? My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog posts, newsletters, public speaking and workshops, photos, videos, merchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. www.debraleebaldwin.com
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