Showing posts from November, 2023

Drowning in leaves

Fall is a special time of year. Trees turning all kinds of color, what a beautiful sight that is. Our neighbor’s massive London plane tree But pretty soon the pretty leaves begin to fall – first a few, then a few hundred, then countless thousand. And somehow most of them end up in our garden, getting stuck in the center of agaves and aloes and swallowing up smaller plants almost entirely. See for yourself. I could have posted just a few photos to illustrate my point, but what would be the fun in that? Why limit yourself to one or two images when you can have a dozen or more! Plus, taking pictures of the annual leafageddon is the first step towards actually cleaning them up. Agave sebastiana and Malephora crocea Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ and Mangave ‘Permanent Wave’ Rainbow hedgehog cactus ( Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rubrispinus ) Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rubrispinus This Aloe ‘Apache’ is almost completely buried, just the inflorescence sticking out Agave zebra and Mang

Unsung heroes in our garden

Most posts about our garden feature plants that attract attention – the stars and divas, you might say. But there are plenty of others that are less visible. They aren’t less pretty or less valuable, they just play a quieter role. They may not take center stage, but they would be sorely missed if they weren’t there. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to shine the spotlight on some of these unsung heroes and express my appreciation for their steadfastness and dependability. Many of these quiet characters are groundcovers – succulents, more often than not, but not exclusively. Echeveria minima I love echeverias, but many of them, especially the fancier hybrids, don’t do well in our hot summers. Through trial and experimentation, I’ve found a few that do. This includes Echeveria minima , a beautiful small species that slowly forms dense mats. Echeveria minima A larger form of Echeveria minima on the right Nearby are a few hybrid echeverias that have done really well: Echeveria  'L

Rescuing a Kosmik Kaktus painted succulent

If you've been to a home improvement store like The Home Depot or Lowe's in the last year or two, you've probably seen painted succulents on display in the garden center: “Nature perfect succulents,” says the sign in the photo above. And they would be – if they weren't painted. My disdain for this marketing gimmick is no secret. I would never have bought one if I hadn't spotted these sad characters languish on the clearance rack at my local Lowe's: They were neglected, unloved, and 50% off. I decided to rescue the bright blue one in the front row for a little experiment: Is it possible to remove the paint and, if not, will the plant be able to outgrow it? These painted succulents are part of Altman Plants' Kosmik Kaktus line, “Boldly Going Where No Plant Has Gone Before.” That's a slogan worthy of a registered trademark! The sign you see in the photo below sheds some light on the paint: “Kosmik Kaktus plants get their otherworldly look from colors specia