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Sun Torches

January 21, 2012


This weekend’s weather forecast promises chilly temps, even rain, for Riverside. But last weekend was a different story: While very chilly morning and night, it was warm and bright during the day … So, we took advantage of this with a visit to the UCR Botanic Garden, our mission to view their collection of aloes while they’re in full bloom. My love for aloes is all-encompassing, no matter the time of year. But the sight of them in bloom — in the heart of winter — never fails to amaze and delight me, stirring thoughts of primeval or otherworldy landscapes. This day is no different: with the sun blazing and the air still chilly mid-morning, we’re treated to the gorgeous sight of aloes of every shape and size thrusting torches of hot color skyward. It’s strange but I feel like I have to rush to take these pictures, for fear the blooms will fade and disappear if I don’t hurry … So, clambering up hillsides and veering off DG paths, I catch the fire …


Emerging from within giant spiked rosettes, torch flames swirl toward the clear blueness …



Hot-heads of bright red-orange curve out from the shadows to get their share of the winter sun …



Like a mob of villagers tearing down the hill, this clump of flame-wielding aloes is truly in-your-face …



Incendiary gold spikes flicker from within the blue-gray leaves of a cracked-trunk tree aloe …



Standing high atop a hill, several wizened aloe sentries wave their firebrands threateningly …



Lower to the ground, but no less hot, these yellow blossom spikes seem like freshly lit fuses …



Like ground-fire, these delicate-leafed, low-growing aloes burn vividly yellow …



Even in full shade these fiery orange blossom-spikes are flame-throwers …



Vermillion-tipped yellow spikes blaze and sizzle in the open sun …



The UCR aloes are South African natives, which explains why in their presence I feel transported to somewhere else … Aloes may flourish here and are familiar parts of our landscapes now, but they definitely retain a sense of their exotic, foreign origins … And I love them all the more for it …


Leaving the garden we look back and notice what are probably the tallest aloe trees we’ve ever seen. The Rancho’s aloe trees seem tall in their setting but compared to these giants they’re stunted! Maybe one of our UCRBG chums can tell me how long they’ve been growing here. The UCR aloes in bloom are truly hot stuff!


BLOG TIP: Recently, I was searching around the web for pictures of South African aloe trees and came across a terrific blog devoted to these terrific succulents. Called My Aloe Garden, it’s full of photos and information about the most amazing aloes, many of which I’ve never seen before. Blogger Eurica, and husband Rudi, cultivate and grow aloes, hybrids, and other succulents from their home in Moorreesburg, a small town 100km north of Cape Town … they even sell the seeds and export plants! Click here for Eurica’s Aloe Garden. It’s a fascinating look at aloes growing in the land of their origin.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 5:31 am

    I love them too. I have an Aloe ferox and A. wickensii that I have had in pots since they were tiny little things. I can’t wait to get them in the ground now that I am in a house. I just ordered a bunch of Aloe seed from Silverhill seed too. Should be fun.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      January 21, 2012 5:41 am

      Awesome… my ferox is soon-to-bloom and I can’t wait: the blossoms are deepest red-orange and amazing!

  2. January 21, 2012 4:30 pm

    Nice! Must get over there ASAP…….

    • reubix1 permalink*
      January 21, 2012 4:32 pm

      Well, maybe when it stops raining! It’s really coming down now …

  3. January 22, 2012 12:15 am

    Thanks for the link Reuben. This will give me an excuse to cook something easy for dinner tonight..I’m overdue to visit UC Berkley Botanic garden to enjoy their Aloes in bloom, Unfortunately my garden is both too cold and too wet for many of them.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      January 22, 2012 2:07 am

      You’re welcome … Happy dining and thanks for commenting …

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