The savviest succulent collectors frequent a new Facebook group: "All That is Kelly Griffin." Kelly, a renowned succulent breeder, is responsible for dozens of aloe and agave cultivars.
Kelly is perhaps best known for colorful dwarf aloes textured with raised dots and dashes. He also hybridizes aloes that make great landscape plants---which is mainly where my interest lies. Kelly scours the world for rare species, sometimes out-climbing goats in remote, rocky regions, in order to gather seeds.
Above: Kelly calls this Aloe viridiflora x A. ferox "Smokey Eyes."
The best way to find Kelly used to be at San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society meetings. He's a past-president and judges show plants. Yet public gatherings are dicey these days. With the "All That is Kelly Griffin" online group, you needn't leave home to see eye-candy succulents, learn from members (and the breeder himself), and show off your own KG collection.
Self-described "avid fan" Gina Julia started the group in May, 2020. "It's mainly for members to show Kelly's aloes in different growing environments," she explains, "and how beautiful they really are in their forms and colors. It is also our 'giving back' for the joy he brings to collectors."
How a Hybridizer Thinks
Although he may have been bemused initially by a Facebook group dedicated to his life's work, Kelly soon started adding comments and photos, answering questions, ID'ing plants, and sharing insights. "When you take two nice species and put them together, the result you hope for is not always the one you get," he says in a comment that accompanies his photo of an F1 cross:
Of white aloes Kelly observes, "I have been trying to make a good white aloe as well as every other color combination. In 'Snowdrift' I was pleased with the shape, margins, growth habit, vigor, flower and solid color. It is a plant that I asked to go to production. I think it is better than most of mine in this vein."
Kelly's own garden
I first met Kelly in the '90s as a journalist covering dry-climate gardening for magazines and newspapers. Much later, after my books came out, I made several YouTube videos with and about him. His is one of the Featured Gardens in my book, Designing with Succulents (2nd edition), pp. 128-131.
Gallery: Kelly Griffin Aloes
Below you'll see photos by Kelly, used with his permission. They're from the "All That Is Kelly Griffin" Facebook group. Most are aloes under cultivation in the test garden at Altman Plants, Vista, CA.
Aloes: How To Grow & Varieties All about aloes plus a photo gallery of aloes ID’d and in bloom About Aloes There are dozens of species of Aloe, from tall trees to dwarf cultivars. Aloes typically have juicy, triangular leaves that form starfish-like rosettes. Some are smooth, others toothed and prickled. Such spiky protrusions, like hardened…