Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
As featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine ( design by www.creataria.com )

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy 'Aloe-een', San Diego!











Since it has been over a month since we have featured any succulents, here's our "take" on Aloes. They hail from South Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian peninsula. Aloes, unlike Agaves, have gel-filled leaves and don't die after blooming. Variety is the key word Aloes. They range from just a few inches in height and breadth to a full size tree reaching upward to 25 feet. Their thick glossy leaves may be dark green, light green, yellow-green, spotted, mottled, striped, multi-color tinged, pale blue-gray or nearly white. An exciting note to leaf coloration is that some, like Aloe cameronii have foot long green leaves that will turn a vivid red when grown in the full sun. About a third of the species form trunks over time. The acaulescent (stemless) varieties may be solitary, clump or creep and spread out. Most bloom in the winter, but many flower every month. Since the varieties are too many to list, let's look at the similarities: most Aloes are showy and easy to grow in well-drained soil in the San Diego gardens. Here are just a few varieties:
Aloe arborescens, Tree Aloe,isn't really a tree, but it is our choice for coastal gardens. Tight clusters of serrated green leaves form multi-headed mounds around 2 feet in diameter. A colony, or grouping can spread to about 10 feet. A torch like spire of red-orange flowers blooms in midwinter.

Aloe bainesiiis our choice for 'A Tree of Character'. It's one of the largest succulents. Think of trees in a Dr. Seuss book: multi-headed tufts of downward-curving leaves...that's pretty much right on. They have a definite sculptural quality that adds character to your landscape.

Aloe brevifolia is a low growing and spreading choice. The rosettes are made up of 3 inch thick spiky and blue or gray green leaves. Intermittently all year long, it will bloom with clusters of red flowers on 20 inch stalks.

Aloe ferox or Bitter Aloe, has a large single trunk topped with a crown of gray-green spiny red toothed leaves. Each branched inflorescence, or group of flowers from a single stem, holds hundreds of bright red or orange blossoms. Drama, anyone?

Aloe plicatilis caught my attention at the Balboa Park's Desert Garden several years ago. It's an Aloe without rosettes.Standing about 5 feet tall, it has gray-green fans, which individually look like foot long tongue depressors. The flowers of scarlet clusters bloom in late winter to early spring. The specimens at the gardens are mature and the trunks are fantastically gnarled and textured.

And last but most widely known and cultivated... Aloe vera, (syn. Aloe barbadensis), Medicinal Aloe. The gel is known soothing burns, bites, inflammations and a host of other ailments. Cleopatra allegedly used it as a skin-refreshing mask. It's form is upright (2 feet), with tall slender flower spires.

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