Succulents and cactus…spring in a California garden. Think water-wise.

I’m always commenting that I don’t have much time to enjoy my garden and that between work and my “extra-curriculars” I’m not home as much as I would like. Today was a rare exception. Instead of spending “granddaughter day” at their home, we brought Sophia and Karina to our house so we could be a little closer to the hospital if needed.We really thought my dad would be released  today. Everything was moving in that direction but it seems his doctors were called to more urgent matters, and my very patient parents just hung out at the hospital all day waiting for the final physician sign-off. We did volunteer to come over and stage some kind of choreographed protest to “spring him,” but he doesn’t like to make a fuss.

It was a good day to sit outdoors, let the girls play, and for me, just to have a chance to observe my own backyard. Would you like to see what grows in my Southern California garden? I have roses, hydrangeas and iris, as well as lavender and  a variety of fragrant herbs, but in our Mediterranean climate I also have great success with succulents and cactus. And you may not be familiar with how  these hardy, drought-tolerant specimens flower, especially in the spring!

The picture is a little dark because it WAS a little dark. These cactus blooms greeted me before sunrise Mother’s Day morning. They bloom in the night and close up in the heat of the day.

Still here on Monday…

And then gone by Tuesday…

Can you see the little blooms-to-be? First they look like little cotton Q-TIPS…but they’ll flower soon.

All shapes and sizes…and colors

Little spiky stems…waiting to flower

I threw this one in as a little tease. Winter weather is a little hard on our G-scale (Garden) railroad. I’ll have some pictures to show you soon…all little boys enjoy their trains. And I enjoy accessorizing–with lots of succulents and cactus.

And one final note…while I was putting this post together, Mom threw dad into the get-away car and they beat it out of the parking lot and headed for home. They escaped by cover of night…and are now safely holed up in their house. The long incarceration  hospitalization is over…and we are seriously thankful and glad to have him home!

Breathing MUCH lighter…Debra

52 thoughts on “Succulents and cactus…spring in a California garden. Think water-wise.

  1. Enjoyed the peek into your garden. I am not much of a gardener as I grew up in apt buildings in NY but I will get better. Wonderful surprise at the end of your post! Happy read that your Dad went home with the help of his accomplice. 🙂

    1. If you have any interest in succulents and cactus, small specimens are good indoors, and make good conversation pieces. I’m shocked at the prices I’ve seen in some of the stores around here where they’ve put two or three together in a nice little collection and then charged $50.00 or more…for inexpensive succulents! They do make nice almost no-care container plants. Yes, we were so surprised to hear dad was getting out so late last night, but very relieved he could sleep in his own bed! Thank you, Marie! Debra

  2. I’m no gardener either, but this is a fascinating glimpse- such different plants than in Irish gardens 🙂

    My mental image is like something out of the Great Escape- maybe a motorbike with sidecar? Delighted that your dad is well enough to have broken free!

    1. Yes, Fiona, I think it was the Graet Escape! LOL! Paperwork processes so slowly! I am sure that home feels so good to him today! Thank you for your kind thoughts! 🙂 And yes…I’ll be sharing more of my garden as summer progresses. I’m partially inspired to share by looking at all the green amd verdant landscapes around the world and even in many parts of the U.S. when we have to think water rationing! We just don’t have the water to support lush landscapes! But even deserts have their beauty. Debra

  3. Happy that your Dad escaped…you always get better in your own surroundings. Enjoyed seeing your Mediterranean plantings. Very different from my northeast gardens.

    1. Yes, Karen! Our landscapes are so very different! I think above all other topics in my one-year blogging exeperience I have most enjoyed reading about regional climate and gardening experiences. Of course I know the difference, but I’ve enjoyed pictures and the stories of what preparation goes into respecting the seasons and making the most of shorter growing seasons. I’m planning to share more throughout the summer. Living where there is very little rainfall we have very different landscaping possibilities 🙂 Thank you for well wishes for my dad…I’m sure today he’s going to just love being home! Debra

  4. Wonderful news of your father’s daring escape. Maybe he could write a guest spot — incognito and from whereabouts unknown, of course — to tell us how he pulled it off.

    Enjoyed seeing your cacti and succulents in bloom. The only place I see that is in a conservatory so this was a treat. Thanks, Debra,

    1. Last night was pretty funny by the time he really got home. I wonder if anyone ever just gets to the end of the process and refuses to do so much paperwork…they just might escape! I jumped the gun just a little bit on sharing some of the succulents and cacti from the garden because the one spectacular bloom is what caught my eye. The others are just getting started. I may share more…they are such unusual plants outside of the southwest, and although common here, for some reason they have suddenly become “the rage.” I should post about the prices they are now commanding…I’ve had mine for years when no one cared 🙂 Debra

  5. How wonderful that your dad is well enough to stage a prison…oops, I mean *hospital*…break! 😉 I hope he continues doing well.

    I love the photos of your garden and the idea of a garden train – I’ve never seen anything like that here on the east coast, all train sets here are displayed indoors. It sounds SO charming! Can’t wait to see more photos. 🙂

    PS~ My daughter has a wonderful cactus garden on a window sill at work. She adds 2 or 3 new cacti every year. This year she added a little round one that’s sprouting beautiful tiny purple flowers as well as a different round one that has larger yellow flowers. I think cacti are often underrated – they’re so interesting and diverse!

    1. Cacti are very underrated..I agree! And they do well indoors, as your daughter has discovered. I think it’s great she’s continuing to add to her collection. Even though cactus and succulents are are plentiful and popular here in California, many of the best little boutiques and specialty shops are commanding ridiculously high prices for small arrangements of the plants nestled into a cute little dish or container! I can’t believe the prices. They are the easiest things in the world to grow, so anyone can make a nice arrangement. And when they flower you really do enjoy the unexpectedness of it! I’ll share about the train soon. It is a little unexpected, I agree! 🙂 Thanks for the well-wishes, and I think we’re able to move forward now without too many concerns. Debra

  6. Fabulous news! I know he’ll rest easy under you mom’s care, as well as the rest of the family.

    I love succulents, though don’t grow them myself. My mother-in-law did, in this climate. She would bring them outdoors every May and bring them back in come September. They would usually bloom for her in the heat of the summer. Seeing yours reminded me of her, Debra.

    Several years ago, we featured a railroad garden as one of the gardens on our garden walk. I was doing the publicity then and the owner, a genial fellow who resembled Brian Dennehy, showed me his workroom. At any rate, I played up the railroad garden and it became one of our most attended walks ever due to the fact that more men attended than regularly do.

    1. What a fun story about the garden railroad! Jay subscribes to a magazine that highlights very elaborate setups all over the country, and we’ve noted how many there are in regions where snow and ice would need to be factored in. There would need to be a lot of maintenance, but backyard enthusiasts are usually good at that. Once again, I think the fact that we don’t have to consider timing sometimes prevents us from keeping on top of things…there’s always “tomorrow” to get to it! But before he built his, we went to many exhibits and some home tours to figure out what he really wanted!

      People usually fall into two rather narrow categories with succulents and cactus…they either really enjoy them, or just see them as too ordinary. Your mother-in-law obviously saw them for their distinct character and enjoyed them a lot if she accommodated their needs both indoors and out! I think I developed my love for them through one of my grandmothers who always had many of them in pots. They are all the rage here now…but they weren’t when she was collecting. I still have many that were hers and go very well with a large tortoise! We have our own little desert going on here! oxo Debra

    1. I’m sure you have plenty of succulents and cacti in Texas, Jen! They make great indoor container plants, too! And very little water…good for those droughts we both have from time to time! Debra

  7. I’m just dazzled by the variety of cacti and succulents — it’s one of my favorite rooms at the conservatory. They have such tiny brave blossoms. I’m really glad your dad got sprung at last — can we say “spring, sprang, sprung”? 🙂

    1. Yes, indeed, “spring, sprang, sprung” it was! LOL! There are some private gardens here with succulents and cacti that are just awesome! One of these times I’ll share some of those photos. They are such testaments to the diversity of growing things–and blossoms of all shapes and sizes. I’m so glad you enjoyed my very modest display, Natalie! Debra

  8. Diane

    Debra, wonderful news that your Dad is home! I love the choreographed protest to “spring him”! It made me laugh out loud. Your garden is beautiful and I look forward to seeing more pictures and learning about SoCal plantings. I just discovered that the aloe plant is related to asparagus. My aloe plant started growing asparagus or looked very similar to asparagus! And now has bloomed with gorgeous orange flowers! See you soon!

  9. I was so cheered by your garden, I was hoping it cheers you as well! I am so glad your mom snuck your dad out of the hospital! Sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do! They must have felt like kids again sneaking around. I’m sure he will recover much better at home with your mom’s presence and tlc!

    1. Thank you so much, Smidge. I went over to my parents’ home last night after work and found them doing very well! My mom had made a casserole and he was eating with gusto…he didn’t eat much of that hospital food! There’s no place like home 🙂 Debra

    1. He’s glad to be home to my mom’s cooking. My mom doesn’t think of herself as a great cook, but my dad loves my mom’s cooking…and after more than 60 years, it’s wonderful to see them enjoy being home together! Thank you, Sharyn. Debra

  10. Yay! Your dad’s home! Phew . . . that’s a relief, eh?

    Loved your garden shots. It reminded me that I once had a miniature cactus garden in my room. I must have bought it when we went out west. It did well . . . until the Great Dane tipped it over. Even after careful repotting, it never looked quite as glorious.

    1. Our neighbor used to have a Great Dane, Nancy, and although that’s been years and years, we still talk about Reggie! He was such a HUGE puppy, even as he aged. What a great breed of dog, although a lot of animal to handle! I’m sure you had many things mysteriously “tip over.” LOL! Debra

  11. Anonymous

    So glad the “escape” worked out and your father made it home. Praise God for health and recovery! Oh, and for cactus and succulents…the pictures were great!

    1. Thank you, Dee. Yes, things are more peaceful now that we’re not running around. This was a short hospital stay by many standards, and yet felt much longer to my parents, of course, as well as those of us “in waiting.” I had a lot of time to think about some of my friends who are currently caring for loved ones with very complicated health issues that make hospitalizations almost a routine part of their lives, and I can’t help but be mindful of how difficult that has to be! I’m thankful for our good outcome, and maybe have a little bit of renewed empathy for some other dear people in my life! Thank you for you kind thoughts, as always, Dee. Debra

    1. That’s a beautiful way to say it! They do bring me so much joy when they finally bloom. As you have experienced, I know, you see the buds forming and never quite know when they’ll blossom. When they do, I’m always so excited that I was able to take notice…Thanks for visiting 🙂 Debra

  12. It is always a delight to see deserts bloom. They really are lively, colorful places. I love to hike in them.

    Happy your Dad is now home. I hope he doesn’t have to be incarcerated again.

    1. I’m hoping, too, Andra, that this was just one of those things…not to be repeated for at least a very, very long time! One good thing about a lengthy hospital stay is that with so many tests, he knows he is in very good overall health! Kind of an expensive way to get a full workup, but he can rest assured that things are currently working well! Thank you for your kind thoughts sent our way! Debra

  13. Breathing much lighter at your good news Debra !
    And thank you for showing me your garden, I love cactus and succulents, the flowers are so fleeting, but pretty, and as you say they come in all shapes and sizes.
    And you tease!! I glimpsed the railroad track in the last photo and was thinking, I’m sure there are plants in there…. looking forward to a closer look 🙂 I hope you have a super weekend with all your family !

    1. Thank you so much, Claire. I am holding back just a little bit on the railroad “story.” I think it’s kind of fascinating myself, because I know how long my husband planned for it! I have to organize some old photos to show the development. That’s where I often get stopped in my own tracks! I have a few little stories I’d love to share, but then I don’t get my act together on the visual appeal! LOL! Baby steps! I hope you, too, have a good weekend. I was thinking of you last night while transplanting just a couple of things and thinking how irritated I’d be if someone took my tools! It’s the season when every minute in the garden seems to count! 🙂 Debra

  14. Aw, Debra, I’m glad you Dad made his getaway in the end!

    And those cacti are so lovely. They remind me of Malta, and my dad’s penchant for growing far too many of them when I was younger – you couldn’t move for them! I’ve always thought that cactus blooms are really pretty, too, like they like to show off all that water stored inside with one magnificent burst of colour! 🙂

    (And I really want to see more of the train track too!)

    1. Thank you, Eve. My dad is doing very well now! I had to smile at my own surprise when you mentioned your dad’s penchant for cacti/succulents–Malta! Of course, the Meditteranean climate! I so associate these plants with American Southwest that I hadn’t even considered where else in the world they might thrive. You do remember them well and I love yuor poetic description–“one magnificent burst of colour.” Yes, indeed. I will talk about the trains later when I can get some of my pictures together. I think the story of how it was built is really fun! Thank you for sharing your memory from Malta! Debra

  15. Yay! So glad you’re dad is home. He’ll do much better now. Home always helps. I love your garden. Makes me miss the desert. I live the desert. It’s my happy place. 🙂

    1. That’s so interesting to me, Kristy, that you have such a fond association with the desert. That’s not always what we hear, but I am never bored when we drive through even the longest stretches of desert while traveling long, lonely stretches of highway! I particularly love sunsets in the desert. I’m so glad you enjoyed the few garden photos. From time to time I enjoy showing what grows “here”–each of us has something just a little bit different due to our climate particulars, and I always enjoy seeing where everyone else lives! Thank you for stopping by…I enjoy chatting with you 🙂 Debra

  16. SO glad your mum and dad are home, and that your dad is well enough to be there, Debra. Thank you for those words during the time we were both in a very similar situation. Your succulents and cacti are just beautiful, and totally beyond my ken: we have them only as house plants…

    1. I keep reading about your rain, Kate, and THAT is totally beyond my ken! I stay tuned to blogs as much for weather reports as other things…I’m fascinated with how we all navigate our particular environments. Thanks for words about my dad…he is still having a lot of difficulty, but he is the most patient soul. I have a lot to learn from him yet! I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Debra

  17. I’m so glad your father is out of hospital. What an ordeal that has been. I’ve been in hospital where they say, ‘You can go now, but we just need to give you a discharge letter and your medication. Won’t take long’. And that will be at 8am and at 5pm you’re still there, seething. xx

    1. Thanks so much, Charlie. My dad is still having some difficulty, but he is such a patient man. I know he’ll eventually be fine. We keep teasing that the healthcare system as a whole is no place for people who are sick! LOL! Debra

    1. Thank you, Otto. If I can get a little better organized and take my time, I’d love to share a few more. They are rather unusual to so many. Without a desert climate, they just don’t do well outdoors. Thank you for kind words regarding my dad’s health. I have to begin by saying how spoiled we all are…he has always been in perfect health. We really hope this is just a bad bump in the road! 🙂 Debra

  18. So glad your Dad has made it home, Debra. There’s nothing like one’s own bed to recuperate in.

    My DH has always been fond of cacti and succulents, but I must admit to finding them a bit too uncuddly. 🙂 I like to stroke leaves and stems…. Mind you, if the water tables don’t recover soon in south-east England a lot of people will start to look more seriously at succulents for their gardens.

  19. Pingback: Succulents, Garden Markers, Dinner, and Gardening Partners! |

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