Of leaves and lights

Just recently I wrote about the pesky leaves that keep bothering my poor succulents. Since then we’ve had three inches of rain, which has brought us above normal for the season. That’s exactly what drought-ridden California needed. And we’re not done. More rain is in the forecast for Wednesday through Sunday.

The last rain storm came with fairly strong winds, which knocked most of the remaining leaves off the trees. The bad news: leaves everywhere. The good news: very few leaves left on the trees, so not much more to fall.



Having been cooped up inside all week because of work, I was only too happy to head outside on Saturday morning and clean up the leafy mess.

Raking the sidewalk and driveway was accomplished quickly. Removing the leaves from succulent rosettes took a little longer.


Aloe ferox

It might not look like a lot of leaves inside this Aloe ferox. But if the rain continues, a soggy mass like that could lead to rot. I want to make sure my babies remain as pristine as possible.


Aloe ferox

141206_014 141206_015

Aloe ‘Hercules’


Agave parrasana


Aloe cameronii

The Agave macroacantha you see in the next couple of photos had the most leaves stuck in it.


Getting them out took quite a while!


After I’d raked the leaves away from the plants and into the street for curbside pickup, I proceeded to remove the leaves from inside the rosettes. My tool of choice is a 12” pair of tweezers. Sturdy gloves are a must; many agaves have nasty spines and even aloes often have razor-sharp edges.

The result was definitely worth it. Not only do my succulents look nice and clean—at least for now…


Aloe ferox

…I also found a few surprises: emerging flowers on some aloes!


Aloe ferox


Aloe cameronii; it’s going to flower as well


Agave parrasana; no flowers but more pups around the base than I’d thought


Aloe ‘Hercules’, getting even taller


Aloe ‘Erik the Red’…


…with a flower stark emerging from the center!


FRONT: Agave colorata with lots of pups
BACK: Aloe ‘Moonglow’ with lots of flowers


Aloe hereroensis, looking pretty after I’d removed the mass of leaves that had threatened to smother it


Aloe broomii, still too small to flower but very attractive nonetheless


Agave macroacantha after cleaning


A strong spray of water from a hose took care of the smaller pieces of debris lodged in between leaves


Wider shot of desert bed


Wider shot of desert bed


The second project was holiday-themed. Recently I bought several sets of solar-powered fairy lights with “100 ultra-bright LED bulbs” that promised to “decorate gardens and light up walkways without adding on to your home’s energy bill.”

I had to laugh when they arrived: Each one came in a white box that was completely unmarked except for a barcode.


There were no instructions whatsoever—not that any are needed. All you do is stick the solar panel in the ground in a spot where it gets sun and press the Power button on the back. Nothing happens during the day, but as soon as it gets dark enough, the lights come on.


I appreciate the ability to have lights in spots where no electricity is available. I didn’t expect these tiny fairy lights to light up the neighborhood like Clark Griswold’s 250,000 imported Italian twinkle lights, and they don’t. But they add a bit a holiday cheer where none existed before.




I’m hoping that with a proper charge—after a nice sunny day, for example—the lights will be a bit brighter. What you see above is from whatever charge was put in the batteries in the factory. I’ll reassess in a week or two :-)


  1. A little inconvenience having to clean out all those leaves (especially on the Macroacantha) but that should be it now with all the leaves from the deciduous trees now all down. I quite like the subtle glow of your new lights although it would look good too brighter. A bit of time will tell :)

    1. I may have planted that Agave macroacantha in the wrong place (near the 'Black Lace' elderberry). I think I'll move it next spring to a spot as far away from trees as possible.

    2. Should have said: near a Black Lace' elderberry and under a 'Bradford' pear. It collects leaves from both.

  2. Even here with less rain than up north I have to also be careful to get the leaves off the aloes. Creates fungal infections if not rot.

    I like the subtle quality of your new lights. The ones as bright as Las Vegas seem a little vulgar.

    as an aside, did you see this youtube of Kelly Griffin's garden? Oh my!


    1. My lights are the antithesis of Vegas. If anything, they bring to mind the dark alleyways of Vegas at night, LOL.

      Kelly Griffin's garden: I don't even know what to say! Can I have one of each plant in his garden? I assume he lives in San Diego County where everything grows to perfection?

  3. Everything looks fantastic. Good news my Hercules has finally filled out. Bad news is the damage and more to come. I will clean up after this next storm. Cross your fingers that my gazebos and new greenhouse are still standing when it's over.

    1. Great to hear your 'Hercules' is with the program now. It's supposed to become a monster!!

      I'm a bit scared of this coming storm. Gusts up to 60mph? And 3" of rain? I guess there's nothing we can do except ride it out.

  4. OMG ! Now I can't wait to go home. My succulent s are probably rotting now. Your babies are looking so good Gerhard. I want to order some of those lights.

    1. Laura, I'm sure everything is fine in your garden. We've had enough rain-free days to dry things out a little. At least that's what I keep telling myself :-).

  5. Would a leaf blower/vacuum have made the job any easier, or are they wedged in there?

    Three inches sounds like a lot for your area. Hope the additional doesn't come in storms that are too crazy!

    1. My wife also asked me why I didn*t use a leaf blower. I just find it easier to use long-handled tweezers. I have more control than I would with a leaf blower; ours is electric so there's the cord to deal with as well.

      Rain is very welcome, but I wish it would be more spaced out. Everything seems to be so cataclysmic lately...

  6. Okay now I'm feeling like a slacker, I should have went out and cleaned the (latest round of) leaves from my plants today. And those lights...I LOVE them.

    1. You a slacker?!? Never!

      I find removing leaves from succulents almost Zen-like. Some people get that feeling of tranquility from folding clothes, I get it from being around my succulents. Call me nuts!!

      If anybody is interested in these solar-powered fairy lights, here is where I got them: BoardwalkBuy.com.


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