Megan’s San Francisco Gardening Experience

This edition of Garden Clippings features guest blogger Megan Speckmann of San Francisco. Megan says after leaving Wisconsin it was tough to get used to a completely new growing environment. But as you can see, she’s adapted nicely.
(Photo credit: Megan Speckmann)

When Megan Speckmann, her boyfriend Matti and Border Collie Max moved to San Francisco from Madison, Wis., they had a lot to learn about gardening with plants that seemed to grow year round.

“City College’s Plant Identification classes helped fill in the gaps, along with many visits to the nurseries in the greater Bay Area,” she says.

Megan started gardening over 20 years ago by helping her dad with their terraced gardens in Wisconsin. For the last 2 1/2 years, she and Matti have worked to transform their weedy overgrown backyard into a succulent heaven.

“Matti and I love weird plants,” Megan says. “I’ve found that I like plants that give birth to pups which means we have a lot of succulents and bromeliads. Right now we have over 80 staghorn ferns. Luckily 72 of them are tiny babies.  I now live 2 blocks from Ocean Beach with a sandy well-drained backyard full of succulents I could have never dreamed of back in Wisconsin.”

Here are Megan’s top 3 tips for other gardener’s making the move from Zone 5A to Zone 8B:

1.  Experiment with annuals.

“I was fascinated with the fact my snapdragons were still alive and flowering in December,” she says. “Then I started playing with succulent cuttings from friends and some free ones on Craigslist. Free or cheap plants are a great way to start when you’re completely new to an environment.”

2. Take a plant class.

“Plants in California, like Jade plants as shrubs, were baffling to my Midwest gardening roots. The best thing I ever did was take the Plant ID class at City College. It opened my eyes to the vast variety of plants that do well in San Francisco. Learning the Latin names of plants has given me gardening confidence I never had before.”

3.  Join groups!

“Because I’m a succulent junkie, it makes sense to congregate where other succulent junkies hang out and the SF Cacti and Succulent Society meets once a month about a mile from my house. It’s been another great resource for meeting plant-crazed people and growing my plant collection as well.”

Plants aren’t only Megan’s hobby, she also works as the Plant Wrangler for Carol Soffer Design, a job that requires her to care of all the plants the firm uses in staging. If you’d like to see more of Megan’s growing passion for succulents, stop by her Far Out Flora blog or follow her on Twitter @sfgardengirl.

Thanks for sharing your California gardening experience with, Megan!


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