Post last updated: October 10th, 2018

Monday, October 20, about 25 of us from the Mandarin Garden Club descended on the home of Jacksonville’s Jim Love of Ace Hardware Nursery. His back yard is full of cacti and succulents and a few other plants that strike his fancy. Most of his backyard was in shade but he found that he had no trouble growing his plants in low light. Mr. Love admitted right away that he doesn’t landscape his succulent garden in the conventional manner but everything was laid out in interesting arrangements and a lot of it was permanently set up for winter protection – plastic that would roll down when released.

Jim Love
Jim Love

The first stunner to catch your eye as you walked into the backyard was rhapsalis. It looked like a weeping pencil cactus with long streamers and an occasional tear.

Same cacti - front view
Same cacti – front view
Hanging baskets inside a concrete step structure painted to look like adobe
Hanging baskets inside a concrete step structure
painted to look like adobe
JL - succulents 2-5879
Cacti and succulents
Agave Maculosa
Agave Maculosa – almost looks like a bromeliad
really caught my fancy
Agave - Century Plant
Agave – Century Plant
Root Beer Plant
Root Beer Plant

At the end of our visit, he put three trays of succulents on a table and gave each of us a ticket for a drawing. He used his cap to hold all the tickets and make the drawings. It turns out that we ALL had winning tickets — everyone went home with a succulent. Cacti and succulents are not available in any great numbers at local plant nurseries so I was in awe of Mr. Love’s collection. I keep trying to grow the simple ones and I keep killing them off.

If you know someone undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, Mr. Love, along with the Men’s Garden Club of Jacksonville, has grown 1400 aloe vera plants for patients with radiation burns. The Jacksonville Zoo has graciously donated a 100 by 100 foot plot for growing the aloe vera. The Men’s Garden Club is asking the community to donate aloe vera plants or “pups” to the project. They do not have to be in pots; bare root is fine. As I understand it, they want the soft, light green aloe vera like this:

aloe vera
aloe vera

Duval County has garden members in several different areas of town who can pick up the plants. If you are in radiation therapy and need a plant, clear it with your doctor and call (904) 635-7318 for information.


  1. Wow and Wow! I was on the trip and you found things I missed. I’m really impressed that you can spell and say the names of these “green looking things”. I really wanted to know about what he puts in the soil, did you think to ask that question? I could have stayed half a day and asked questions. I have a Cereus like the one at at Jim’s, but mine hasn’t bloomed.

    1. Betty – I called Mr. Love last night about the names to two of those plants. One of them I had to email to his wife to get the name because it was impossible to describe. He says we are welcome any time, just call first, so I’ve kept his number in my MGC notebook. Go back and look at the rootbeer plant. I left it out earlier. I kept counting my photos to make sure I had them all. I must be orbiting the wrong side of the moon.

  2. I am so glad that you went on a field trip! The garden club is wonderful like that… Oh, and, it has extra special gals like me “the gypsy gardener”!!!

  3. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. You know you can come to my house and right at the front door you can gather as much aloe as you want from that container. I don’t even water it and it started out as a little sprig and now it is a monster. I’ll share.

    1. Evie – I’m not allowed to come to your house, remember? Because I make you work in the yard and mess up your fancy nails. And I know you’d make ME repot that gigantic container of aloe if I borrowed from it. Nuh-uh. I ain’t stoopit.

      1. You are smart Farmer Jones. That thing is massive but I am not messing up my nails messing with it. Plus it may have bugs or critters in it and I would die if I saw a bug and die again if I actually touched it.

  4. My garden doesn’t really do succulents, though it does appreciate them…
    And, I was thinking, I’m kinda like the floppy aster…I may be floppy in some spots, but I do have a beautiful bloom!!!

  5. That is quite a collection! I don’t have very many succulents (and I would probably hurt myself if I had a prickly cactus), but I love those Agaves. And the Root Beer plant sounds very interesting. What a great cause that he helps out, as well!

    1. Indie – It’s funny you should mention hurting yourself on those agaves. He had them loosely wrapped in yellow caution tape which I did not see because I came into the yard from the other side. Even when I walked around them to photograph the adobe shelves, the yellow tape didn’t register in my bird brain. To get a wider shot of the adobe shelves, I backed up into those agave spines and lawdy, lawdy, I sure knew it. His backyard was a visual overload!

  6. I don’t know how I missed this post. Very interesting. It always is so nice to see the passions of other plant people.
    Thank you so much Linda for showing all of this.

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