Wordless Wednesday – The Aloes of Laguna Beach

A few weeks ago I spoke at the Laguna Beach Garden Club, and was thrilled when my host insisted we walk along the coastline before catching my flight home.

The aloes were in full bloom, the sun was shining, artists were painting, hummers were humming, dolphins were swimming – in short, I was in heaven.

Laguna Beach, be still my beating heart


See the fin?

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  • I’m a little late to the Aloe party! The Aloe arborescens, on their way out of bloom now, were beautiful in Santa Barbara this season – like rows of flaming torches. The hummingbirds adore them! My Aloe striata is just showing its bud right now. Unfortunately my Aloe polyphylla (Spiral Aloe) which I had for 4 years succumbed to all our hard, cool rains in last winter – time to get another. So many interesting Aloes!

    • Lucky me is right, Pam. It’s days like this one that I pinch myself and feel so blessed to do what I do for a living!

  • Hi, Rebecca — The two types of aloe in your photos are Aloe arborescens (the red one) and what looks like a hybrid of Aloe bainesii (the orange one).

    And to clarify: No species of aloe is considered invasive. Aloe arborescens, despite its name, is more clump-forming than treelike—but there are tree aloes (like Aloe bainesii). One of the most common succulents in Southern CA gardens, Aloe arborescens is the one that “saved” the garden on the cover of my book, Designing with Succulents from burning. Gary Lyons of the Huntington said municipalities should hand out cuttings to homeowners in fire-prone areas, for the to use as a perimeter plant. Like those of all other aloes, its leaves are gel-filled and don’t transmit flames. It’s also so common it’s seldom sold in nurseries. Really easy to start from cuttings. Over time, rosettes grow and overlap like starfish clinging to a rock. I love its red-orange flowers this time of year, with the blue sky behind them! It doesn’t have a common name, but if I could give it one, it would be “Laguna Beach aloe.”

    • Thanks for all the great info, Debra. I love the fact that they’re so useful in helping to create a fire resistant garden – crucial in certain parts of our dry state. I remember hearing this story in one of your presentations, and as I looked around the audience everyone was sitting on the edge of their chairs waiting for the ‘after the fire’ photo. Truly, a gripping moment!

  • I was calling these “Red Hot Pokers”, but Kaveh is right–they are Aloe arborescens!


    The “Red Hot Pokers” are actually a Kniphofia:


    Not a terribly dissimilar flower, but a completely different look to the plant! Both originate in South Africa, which is probably why they both do so well in Southern California–same climate and all… Thanks for setting me straight.


    Garden Goddess

    P.S. I was in Laguna Beach last week and the wonderful photos you have still don’t do the views justice. The green and red of the aloes perfectly frame the holiday ocean views! Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

    • No kidding – these photos don’t do the view justice! I’m so glad you had the chance to see for yourself how unbelievably amazing that view is – it’s like a peek into heaven, isn’t it? 🙂

  • I always wanted to “steal” a little piece of the plant in the top photo when I was living in Santa Monica, but I never found a place where I could do it without being noticed…It has one of the most beautiful blooms I have ever seen, do you know the name of that particular aloe?

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Laura – I don’t know the name of that one, but I’m sure my friend Debra Lee Baldwin will! I’ll send her a note and see if she can stop on by and help us out. I also wondered the name of the orange flowering variety, too. Yoo Hoo…Debra…..are you awake yet? 😉

  • I’m loving Aloes lately. Aloe arborescens is so pretty in full bloom but they scare me a bit too. For every well behaved one there is another sneaky one just waiting to take over an entire city block.

    • Ha – you’re so right, Kaveh! They can definitely be a bit ‘rampant’, right?


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