Rosalina’s Dream: A Nursery of Her Own

– Posted in: Succulents

IMG_1877 Twenty years ago, cacti and succulents were oddball plants, little known among the nursery industry or gardening community. North San Diego county was where the wholesale growers were located, and many still are. But unfortunately Cooper’s Cactus and Succulents no longer exists; not since John Cooper passed away. The good news is that his plants live on, as does his kindness. Above: I photographed this Aloe nobilis ‘Variegata’ and the other succulents shown here at Roja’s Succulents, 2005 E. Alvarado St., Fallbrook, CA.   IMG_1780 “John Cooper made it possible for me to have my own nursery,” says Rosalina Rojas, one of his former employees. Above: Echeveria ‘Cante’ in bloom. 

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Her own one-acre nursery has been in existence more than a decade. Above: Ruffled echeverias.  IMG_1870 “I’ve been in the US for 26 years, and I’m a citizen,” Rosalina says proudly. She originally is from Guanajuato, Mexico. Above: A striped aloe. 

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“One of my sons is fighting for our country,” Rosalina told me. Francisco, 26, is in the Special Forces. Above: Aloe tomentosa flowers are unusual for the genus: pale green, fuzzy and appear in midsummer.

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Her other son, Carlos, 24, helps with the nursery. Carlos introduced himself to me at last year’s Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals Nursery, and urged me to visit. I wasn’t able to do so right away, but it was on my radar. I’d already heard good things about the owner and the quality of the plant material. Above: Aeonium canariense has velvety leaves. 

IMG_1821 “It’s my passion and my living,” says Rosalina, adding that having her own nursery made it possible for her to raise her sons as a single mom. Above: Aloe dorotheae.

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Following in her mentor’s footsteps, Rosalina cultivates many beautiful, rare and unusual varieties. Above: This variegated Graptopetalum pentandrum is one of her own introductions. 

IMG_1841 So, what treasures did I bring home? One was this unusual senecio with beadlike leaves. IMG_1880 And this variation of Kalanchoe luciae (paddle plant) with rolled leaves. Rosalina calls it the “taco kalanchoe.” IMG_1864When you’re in the area, do visit Rosalina and mention that you heard about her here. You also might want to have my comprehensive list of “San Diego Succulent Destinations.” Incidentally, Rosalina wasn’t the only one Cooper helped; others continue to cultivate plants once grown at his nursery. Above: An Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ variation. 

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Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin

Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
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