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  • Writer's pictureConejo Valley Botanic Garden

Activities for 5 Sept 2023

Tuesday was a day when almost all hands were on deck. John Allday, Monica Barton, Beverly Kemmerling, Daryl Stutley, Nancy Taylor Walker and I were on site with the prospect of doing something other than oregano removal. We decided to start at the top of the hill in the Desert Garden and work our way down. Other than scoping out potential tasks for the next 3 weeks, we didn’t get beyond the Desert Garden, and there is still work to be done there.

We worked in two areas: 1) the yellow aloe at the entrance of the Desert Garden, and 2) the honey bush on the south side. Nancy captured Monica, John, me Beverly and Daryl standing in front of the aloe which has been relieved of its spent bloom stalks.


Below, Nancy seems to be standing at an impossible angle reaching in to clip off one of the bloom stalks. The stand has gotten so large, getting to the middle to do any maintenance is a challenge.


Another reason to be able to access all areas of an aloe clump is to remove as many aloe mite galls as possible. The galls are produced by the aloe mite that secretes a chemical into the plant which results in a cancer-like abnormal growth. Because the gall protects the mite, it is impossible to control by externally applied miticides. The only way to control them is to remove the affected parts. Below is one of the galls we cut off during the deadheading.

Since focusing on removing these for the past several years, the numbers have dwindled from a couple of dozen/year to fewer than can be counted on one hand The second task we focused on was to deadhead the honey bush clump. Unlike previous years, we left the hanging dead leaves to protect the stems from sun damage; we only took off the bloom stalks. Below, John preparing to gather some stalks.

Finally, the Desert Garden produces some of the most amazing bloom displays in the garden. Trouble is they are often quite transient, some lasting but a single day before collapsing. Below is a shot of one of several blooming Pachycereus marginatus (Mexican fence post) (They could have been Echinopsis panchanoi. Please let us know if you can positively ID them) which sadly was already on the wane when we spotted it mid morning.

So the moral of the story is to walk the garden (particularly the Desert Garden) frequently and in the early morning so as not to miss displays of this sort. Enjoy! KMM

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