You'll be greeted by a truly giant giant saguaro when you arrive at California Cactus Center in Pasadena. This is notable because the saguaro is mainly seen in Arizona; the fact that it's thriving here is indicative of the growers' abilities. Given California's ongoing drought, take the hint and plant things from the desert. The shop has more than just cactus: many types and styles of pots, garden statuary, accessories, even a few water plants. But the main products here are succulents, ranging in size from an inch or so to taller than your house. Many are rare species, plants that even the most experienced gardener might be surprised to see. And the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, too. Zhalermwudh Thongthiraj, a Thai farmer who came to the United States in the 1950s, started the business with his wife and (eventually) six daughters. Now they're happy to share their love of plants and expertise in cactus with you. —Lisa Horowitz

216 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, 91107. (626) 795-2788,

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