We're Back, Baby

The Blog has been down for the last 2 days, you may have noticed. I was setting up to sell our succulent wreaths online (you can check it out here) and then everything was lost; gone! By yesterday morning the main site had enough information that I could get it back, and by this morning the rest of the site had been migrated back to it’s right place, but still the wordpress settings weren’t aligning properly. But now we got that last little detail fixed and I can get back to blogging all my quirky comments and pretty pictures for you.

Here, have one now.

They’re Chive Pods repurposed as airplant terrariums. Tillandsias rule the winter.

PA Succulents

(Y)ou can learn about all kinds of succulents at a free show opening at the McLean Library on the 1st floor of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society at 20th and Arch. See exotic varieties of succulents and cacti and learn how easy it is to grow them indoors and out – including succulents you can grow on a green roof, giving a deeper meaning to the term ‘houseplant.’

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society hosts the annual Philadelphia Flower Show in March so you know it’s a big organization.

They have last year’s videos still up, and here’s a kid who shows cactus and succulents at the show, as well as other “challenge” plants.

Winners Take Home Plants in Temecula

Melony Meadows selects some succulents she won in a raffle during a water conservation fair Saturday at Vintage Hills Park in Temecula. ANDREW FOULK | For The Californian

It looks like a fun day was had by all. Except whoever came in 2nd place and didn’t get to take home the succulents. They were pissed.

I love local stories!

Hypertufa in Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wants to make sure you’re ready for the holidays by letting you know about the cool things you can do around Santa Cruz to get ready for the holidays.

DIG is a very cool place if you can make it to Santa Cruz and have some time left over after surfing. If you haven’t stopped by to check them out, now would be the time because they’re going to teach you a skill.

DIG Gardens is planning ahead for the holiday gift-giving season.

DIY Hypertufa Pots, 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, will be taught by concrete artisan Katrina King from 5 Feet from the Moon Concrete and Metal Designs. Hypertufa [pronounced hyper-toofa] is a man-made stone created from various aggregates bonded with cement. Participants will make two medium pots to take home. The $50 cost includes instruction and all materials.

Stolen Cactus Followup

Another article about the New Zealand cactus thieves I blogged this morning indicates they thought they were stealing San Pedro cactus, which makes more sense.

The writer also assumes they had stolen San Pedro cactus.

But it was a Cereus. Also known as the Peruvian cactus apple they have delicious fruit, but no mescaline.

One Hamilton garden centre staff member, who did not want to be named, said she had been approached in the past by people wanting to buy cactus and boil it up for a “high”.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris, of the chemistry department at Waikato University, said the stolen cactus looked strikingly familiar to the Echinopsis pachanoi, the San Pedro cactus, that contains the hallucinogenic mescaline.

The cactus held a “chemical cocktail of psychedelic agents” that if taken in the wrong dosage could kill, Ms Manley-Harris said….

And always they must tell you that drugs are bad and even here that drugs can kill.

“If you muck around with it this sort of thing can kill you.”

The Relative Youth of the Cycads

Big news in the cycad world.

Cycads are considered living fossils from the days when Jurassic dinosaurs browsed upon them. New research has found that modern cycads are much younger than that. Specimen in Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Photo courtesy Tantek Çelik of Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Stolen Cactus Recovered Quickly

In New Zealand, thieves cut up cactus to steal them, cut off the edges of the cactus, and then what’s the plan? These Cereus are not particularly valuable, and once the edges have been shorn they’re worthless and will probably die anyway.

When police arrived they found two men cutting up a cactus plant into segments, with one shaving the spines off with a knife.

When questioned about what they were doing the man said he had; ‘felt a bit of a prick’, so was removing the spines to make the segments easier to carry….

A mystery.

What to do in Stockton, CA

Stockton – the 13th largest city in the state, home of the Asparagus Festival, and one of the cities hardest hit by the housing crash in the country. Go join the Stockton Cactus and Succulent Society and then you can go to their upcoming meeting Thursday where they will be talking all things bromeliad, especially dyckia.

The Stockton Cactus and Succulent Society will be holding a meeting Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the San Joaquin County Building…

This month’s program is “Getting to Know the Genus Dyckia”…

Feel free to bring a dyckia of your own…

More From Francine Raymond

The Telegraph’s favourite garden writer is back with more succulents for us to enjoy.

While I feel I can boast modest success growing plants outside in the garden, I seem to be the kiss of death to indoor plants…. Now, happy in their new home (a well-lit south-facing porch), the sole survivors of a once flourishing conservatory — my succulents are my horticultural guilty pleasure….

I also admit a penchant for the hardier sempervivums and sedums that can be grown virtually anywhere…

Mine spend their summer holidays out in the garden, enjoying the fresh air, and up until two winters ago some echeverias could almost be considered hardy.

Vivid language is only one of her talents; picking out suitable succulents for the UK being another.

Christmas Cactus Season Approaches

Every year I post tips for getting your christmas cactus to bloom this year.

This year I’m outsourcing the work to the Albany Herald (or some other such named newspaper – if it’s not the Herald, it should be.)

Now you know how to get your christmas cactus to bloom for you this year.

Here’s a picture of what it will look like for you in December. Lucky you!

Succulents in the UK

Francine Raymond’s favourite succulents

Agave Porcupine
Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ treelike succulent with maroon/black rosettes
Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg’
Sedum morganianum
Sempervivum ‘Atropurpureum’

Am I supposed to know who this person is? The Telegraph is publishing an article that just lists her favorite succulents. What about my favorite succulents? Has the Telegraph ever asked me to list my favorite succulents? Or should I say favourite to curry favour?

Well, she does appear to at least be the garden writer for the Telegraph, so I suppose her list of favoured succulents being published in the Telegraph makes some sense after all.

Francine Raymond joins us as a gardening columnist, with a focus on “Homegrown Style”. She currently lives in Suffolk but is downsizing to be nearer her family in Whitstable. She is the author of ‘Keeping a Few Hens in Your Garden’

I’d like to keep some hens in my garden! I should visit her next time I’m in Whitstable.


I think something got lost in the translation, or a mistake was made, or something, because this quote from Hap in Today’s Garden Center Magazine doesn’t make any sense at all.

28 Quick Ideas To Steal


8. Use Local Plants
Live evergreens are great products for Christmas but don’t always hold up well in warmer areas. Cactus Jungle Nursery & Garden’s Hap Hollibaugh recommends using local plants, such as magnolia, for wreaths in the South.

Now it’s possible Hap said something about local plants but why would he have mentioned magnolias for the south? We don’t live in the south.

I suppose I could ask Hap what he said, but then again he’s not here right now and he’ll probably see this later and comment on it, so come back and check out what he really said. Or meant. Or didn’t say.

Bakersfield has Cactus Too

The 12th annual show and sale of the Bakersfield Cactus and Succulent Society was held Saturday and Sunday at the Golden State Mall (the former location of Montgomery Ward), 3201 F St. It opened to the public at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The show included 48 different divisions, covering every conceivable variety of dry-climate plant, from epiphytic air plants (Tillandsia) to dish gardens of miniature succulents and even photography.

Missed it again! Maybe if I clear out all these old notices of past shows I can get in front of them and let you know the next one before it happens. Maybe.

I wonder who won the dish garden prize?

Las Vegas has Cactus Too

The Cactus and Succulent Society of Southern Nevada is sponsoring the Fall Cactus Show and Sale and Art Fair featuring thousands of exotic and interesting cactuses, succulent plants and art. It is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 16 at Moon-Sun Cactus and Koi Gardens, 6430 McGill Avenue. Admission is free.

You can buy hard-to-find specimens and plants at a substantial discount.

Missed it by one day! I really should be more on top of these shows and sales around the country.


Nopales are a healthy green vegetable with lots of good healthy stuff in them. Sounds like the perfect time for the supplements companies to move in.

Commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, multi-level marketers are packaging up and selling the antioxidant-rich Nopalea on line as a panacea for everything from reducing free radicals to anti-aging, anti-inflammation and weight loss.

“Nobody is disputing that Nopalea isn’t a very good source for antioxidants, but so are many other food that people can enjoy any time without having to shell out big bucks for slickly marketed packaging,” says Healthhound.org, a leading on line consumer health destination. “Our concern is that some multi-level marketers are claiming that these natural ingredients are not only in extremely short supply, but found almost exclusively in Nopalea.

According to healthhound.org, this is simply not the case. “The fact is that the same type of antioxidants are found in spinach, rhubarb, swiss chard, red and yellow beets and a host of other fruits and vegetables.”

To be clear you should add nopales to your diet. Good fresh green nopales. Cook them up!

We saw this same thing with the appetite suppressing powers of Hoodia a few years ago. A normal succulent that has been consumed for millennia in a healthy way is reduced to an ineffective powder and sold as a cure-all. Oy.

No Protection for You

Bad news on the adorable owl environmental front.

The ferruginous cactus pygmy-owl is relatively rare in the United States, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled this week that the 6- to 7-inch birds are not endangered. Photo by Tom Gatz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Succulent Snail

We missed the class on Succulent wreaths and other Topiaries in Sequim, Clallam County, but there is the photo of a succulent snail to tide us over until next year’s class.

Sempervivums and snails are mortal enemies, so it is ironic to see them living together so happily here. IRONIC!!!!!

By the way, I don’t know where Sequim is, although I will guess Washington. To the Google!

….And it’s in WA.

Sequim, WA
The Valley of the Dungeness lies at the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula, in the extreme northwest corner of the United States. It spreads in an alluvial fan from the Dungeness River gorge to the scalloped beaches of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Old Dungeness Community Looking Across the Strait of Juna DeFuca to Vancouver Island Canada


Local College has a Plant Sale

I’ve been emailed this very important local news.

This weekend is the Annual Plant Sale up at Merritt College, here in beautiful Oakland. http://www.merrittlandhort.com/plant_sale.html

Check it out.

New Jersey Cactus

Now it’s true that this looks like an impressive and beautifully maintained collection of cactus. And at 97 Vera Norman is doing yeoman’s work keeping these alive and healthy. But what I like most about this is the fact that the Newark Advocate couldn’t resist a little cactus pun in the headline.

Newark woman’s cacti keep her sharp at 97


Read More…

Philadelphia Succulents

Tomorrow! Are you in Pennsylvania? Or nearby Delaware?

The (family-friendly Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Fall Garden Festival) will celebrate all aspects of the growing season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard….

Local experts will conduct presentations on a variety of topics and include members of the Philadelphia Cactus & Succulent Society.

Where else can you see succulents in PA? There’s the Longwood Gardens, of course.

The Powerful Cactus Lobby Gets to the President

According to a poll released Tuesday, nearly 20 percent of U.S. citizens now believe Barack Obama is a cactus, the most Americans to identify the president as a water- retaining desert plant since he took office.

A growing segment of the population believes the president is pollinated by moths and hummingbirds.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found a sharp rise in the number of Americans who say they firmly believe Obama was either born a cactus, became a cactus during his youth, or has questionable links to the Cactaceae family.

That is one scary-**s truth-telling there.

(Tip to Mr. Subjunctive. Thanks!)

Flaming Cacti in New York

It’s street art in New York. I suppose it resembles a cactus and the colors are flaming.

For the month of August The Department of Transportation asked ANIMUS Art Collective to install their “Flaming Cactus” on 12 lamp posts around Astor Place.


I suppose.

It’s very touchable. But do you want to touch the public art after thousands of other New Yorkers have also touched the public art? Get gloves!

More From Burning Man

Akos and Tony got a picture of the flaming cactus before it was aflame and sent us a copy to share with you all.

Hi Peter & Hap,

Saw your post about the flaming effigy of Carnegiea gigantea at Burning Man this year. We took this photo and have been intending to send it to you folks — I guess we’re a bit late. I wish we’d taken a night time shot before it got blown up, but alas…

Warm (even fiery) regards,
Akos & Tony

Flaming Cactus

Burning Man may well be the home of the Flaming Cactus.

According to the Phoenix New Times, Will Brown brought one this year. Here’s the pre-sketch.

And then there were others in the past too.

Here’s one from 2009.

And 2007.

flaming cactus!

Gotta love the burning of the metallic cacti in the deserts surrounded by vast thousands of people.

Green Valley Barrel Cactus

Green Valley Gardeners post pictures and cactus reviews in the local paper.

Here’s the barrel cactus article.

New flowers may have to fight their way through masses of spines.

Barrel cacti are currently alive with color. Riding along the highways and glancing across the desert, you get an idea how many of these cacti are growing throughout the area.

Pretty pictures, those Green Valley Barrel Cacti that make it into the local newspaper.

Oregon Cactus

The Mail Tribune in Southern Oregon writes a nice article about succulents to plant around the house. Not to get all pedantic on you, but see if you can figure out what’s wrong with this.

A strawberry hedgehog is one of the plants in the succulents and cactus garden at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point. Succulents can make good fire breaks around your home. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch

Here’s a more standard photo of a Strawberry Hedgehog.

Echinocereus engelmannii from Bird and Hike, taken in habitat around the Las Vegas area. Now the Agave above is a very pretty plant, but these Strawberry Hedgehogs are also pretty much a completely stunning visual experience.

The article from Oregon does have one last thing to say that is unquestionably the wisest thing this writer has ever seen in a mainstream newspaper.

One word of caution, however: raising succulents is addictive. There are so many unique varieties that next thing you know, you’ll be a collector.

Koi and Succulents in Sacramento

A dozen koi bask in a pond, surrounded by succulents…

Koi fish line up to be fed by Gwyn Reese in her backyard. Greg Reese is a truck driver with a newly discovered green thumb. He and his wife, Gwyn, converted their former lawn into a “Mediterranean mounds.” jam-packed with color. This makeover, which they did all by themselves, has transformed their formerly ordinary yard into a water-wise oasis.

Wow, that’s nice. Click through for a lot more photos of the transformation.

Bay Area Secrets

The Ruth Bancroft Garden‘s curator of succulents shares his secrets for succulent survival in the San Ramon Valley part of the Bay Area. (Hint: it gets colder there than here.)

Growing succulents in the Bay Area is not the impossible task that it might seem, says Brian Kemble, curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek….

The garden now closes for one month each autumn while workers cover the particularly frost- and rain-sensitive plants as protection against a cold snap.

“It’s worth it,” Kemble says, “to grow all of these wonderful plants.”

And if a bad frost comes, as it did in 1972 and 1990, you accept your losses and move on….

Protecting your plants from frost damage is very important. The Ruth Bancroft Garden puts many specimens under plastic-covered wooden frames from November through March. The clear plastic lets light in and helps trap warm air inside. The bottom of the cover is raised above ground to allow for air circulation. Because the garden has so many plants, the covers are routinely placed, but in a home garden, covers can be added only in a threat of frost or extremely cold temperatures.

By the way, Friday they’re having,

Bluegrass, Brats and Beer in the Garden! Friday September 9, 5:30 till 8 p.m.

June 2023

US Constitution


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