One of our first stops on this summer’s California trip was the California Cactus Center. I had seen the name of this nursery mentioned over and over in the online community, and with it being an hour away from where we were staying I decided it was worth it – I had to see what all the fuss was about.
After about an hour of confusing California driving, we arrived at the cactus center (or rather, missed it and had to turn around at Starbucks), wish list in hand. The parking lot is quite small and the nursery is hidden so it’s easy to miss. When I stepped out of the car, I felt like I’d entered another world. This may be the kind of thing Californians are used to, but it was pretty amazing compared to the 30-ish plant display at my local nursery.
The next thing to catch my eye was this giant cactus, so large it needed help to stand up with all that weight.
Then I saw some of the staged arrangements that the cactus center is famous for. These aren’t made to travel, or I might have brought one home with me.
Then, the nursery tables … rows upon rows of cacti and succulents. Plants were squeezed into every square inch. Most of the large succulents and cacti, the one-of-a-kind specimens were on tables around the perimeter of the nursery. I was focused on the smaller plants that I could mail home (not to mention afford).
The nursery requires a systematic approach if you want to be sure not to miss anything – there’s just so much.
This plant (below) was the one that got away. I debated getting it and ultimately decided not to, a decision I now regret.
Here’s what did make it home:
I had heard rumors that the prices were high at the cactus center, but I didn’t find that to be the case. I paid $66 for this box (the E. ‘Decora’ in the top left is in a one-gallon pot, for size reference), which was far less than I would pay here in Colorado. Perhaps I am simply used to higher prices, since succulents are not common here.
Overall the California Cactus Center was a worthwhile stop, and I’d love to go back. I didn’t see a few of the plants I’d seen in photos from the nursery on the day we went, so I imagine their inventory changes from time to time. I can see myself paying another visit next time we’re in CA!