Simple pleasures of gardening – try some succulents and cactus!

The tomatoes are happy in their containers, we’re getting tiny fruit now.


The other day I noticed about a dozen new tomatoes on our container plants.

Cactus and succulents also make a wonderful container garden.  This Summer we plan to spend more time at our little shack in the woods, so we loaded a bunch of our cactus pots and took them along. Of course they can survive without much attention, but look what happens when you throw a little water their way now and then.


My patio is lit up with these tiny red blossoms.

I found this old gas heater in a house we bought. It looked great but our PG&E man told me it was not up to modern standards.  With the top grate intact, it made a good coffee table. When I found these adorable terra cotta pots in somebody’s FREE pile, I took out the grate and made it into a plant stand.


The little furry nodules appear like warts and then one day they open into these fabulous little blossoms.

This is an old cream separator my gramps picked up from who knows where. Made by the Excelsior Separator Company!


Forever functional.

He liked old machines, this might have been from my cousin’s big dairy in Glenn County. It sat next to our tank house and we kids played on it for years – it had all these moving parts, now rusted pretty solid. We pretended it was a car, a spaceship, a stove for baking mud pies, etc.  Now it makes a great plant stand.


I never get tired of these delicate pink blossoms, growing off of a grouchy old cactus.

I began collecting succulents and cactus when my mom died and left me with her hoard of pots. Let me tell you, they reproduce like crazy, and I  try to pot every one. Every now and then, as if to say, “Thanks!”, they explode with flowers. 



Fragile visitors adorn my patio for a day

Like aliens visiting from another planet, these cactus flowers will stay only one day.

Like aliens visiting from another planet, these cactus flowers will stay only one day.

Years ago a woman gave me a baby cactus from an old overgrown mother plant – a tiny ball of spines, I never imagined what would come of it. Today I have them in pots all around my patio, they reproduce like crazy, piling one on top of the other like a mound of sticker balls.

Every Spring, they produce furry little nodules. That seems to be the announcement of many babies, popping out of the older plants like warts. These can be pulled away when they have separated enough and put into their own pot. I use a pair of cooking tongs.

Sometimes the furry nodules will sprout a weird, snake-like bud, like an asparagus shoot. These are the flowers. They grow very quickly, over a couple of days, the tip swelling and turning an elegant pink.  One night, after the sun is good and gone, they open up into the most gorgeous, fragile, almost too-beautiful-to-be-real flowers.

They remind me of Cinderella at the ball, the petals made out of some elegant fairy stuff.  The sparkling golden anther are the jewels in a tiny tiara.

So elegant, like a fairy ballgown.

So elegant, like a fairy ballgown.

How ironic that something so fragile can rear itself up out of the ugly, twisted mass of thorny cactus.