Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deck The Cactus With Holiday Lights

                  Cactus gardens traditionally do not inspire warm, fuzzy feelings like a
                              Currier and Ives winter scene on a Christmas card.

Few would think to string lights on succulent and cactus plants with sharp, pointy spines, much less turn an entire cactus garden into, well, a holiday winter wonderland.

But why not?

The Ethel M Chocolate factory near Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it a tradition to light their gorgeous cactus garden every year during the holidays.

I was here (click the link) just last February to visit this garden and chocolate factory.
At that time, my niece told me about this spectacular holiday light display she saw last year. The notion took me by surprise. Coincidentally, I was back in Las Vegas in mid-November, just in time to see it for myself. It is beautiful. Every plant is wrapped in little lights.

agave lit up in green,


and blue.

And opuntia in multi-colored hues.

And if we are lucky,

what happens in Vegas won't just stay in Vegas. This is 
worth sharing.

Merry Christmas from GardenEnvy!

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Designer Carves Out A Niche With Pumpkins And Succulents

Laura Eubanks is passionate about succulents.

They are the predominant feature in her eastern Chula Vista home garden.
A small garden that packs a big punch.
Her five hundred dollar garden, she boasts. Most of the hard features in the yard are up-cycled materials and many of her plants were cuttings from gardening friends. Laura, a master gardener since 2008, is an active volunteer member in the San Diego master gardener program.
Her husband helped her build pergolas in the garden

and Laura painted her wood structures

and furniture in brilliant colors.

Succulents are mixed in with alyssums,

the bougainvillea,

and a gorgeous angel trumpet that anchors one corner of the yard.

The range of color in the garden

is striking.

This beautiful garden features a small but elegant waterfall.
She developed a garden business, Design for Serenity, and

and carved out a specialty in succulent designs. Laura is credited for originating these pumpkins planted with succulent cuttings. She utilizes a moss and glue technique to secure the plants to the top of the pumpkin (they are not cut or carved at all). Succulents make long lasting cuttings because they store water in their leaves. Not only are they gorgeous and colorful, they are so practical.

These pumcculents (so to speak) will last for months with occasional misting and the plants will also grow roots. After pumpkin season, remove the succulents, replant them and put the pumpkin out in the yard to decompose. In spring, Laura notes, you will likely have pumpkin plantlets sprouting in the garden.

 Pumpkins are not the only things she plants up.
Laura is known to create other works of art with succulents, including this topiary
crocodile, named Roberto, who is wintering in her side yard at the moment.
 I was lucky enough to attend a pumpkin workshop in her delightful garden.
And by the time I finished my first, I knew it would not be my last.

Happy Halloween. This is GardenEnvy.

 Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lotusland Is A Fantasyland For Gardeners


               Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California, is like Disneyland for gardeners.

And I don't mean because the prickly pear looks like the famous mouse ears.  It's because I felt like a kid in never, neverland when I was there for the first time on Wednesday, September 4.  

Golden barrel cactus

There are no less than 16 gardens on 37 acres at this Santa Barbara, California property that was purchased in 1941 by a Polish opera singer who eventually devoted herself to this garden. 

 Space, the money and the help to maintain every kind of dream garden. And then spend many a happy hour tending it, playing in it and enjoying the beauty of it. That sounds like fantasyland to me.

And it looks like one too. The cactus garden is like nothing I have ever seen before. When I asked the docent what her favorite garden was and she said the cactus, we hadn't see that yet but still, I was a little surprised.  I never anticipated that a cactus garden would outdo say, a Japanese or a rose garden.  But then we walked into it and my jaw dropped. Wonder. Amazement.

My favorite, at least for the moment, is the bromeliad garden, which is probably the most colorful of all the gardens. And a lot shadier than the full-sun cactus garden on a hot September day in SoCal.

 Lotusland is sensory overload, overwhelming and crazy beautiful.

Madame Ganna Walska (1887-1984), I think it is safe to say, was eccentric and had a flair for drama--which is reflected in her garden and in her personal life. She was married six times; once after knowing the gentleman only 10 days.

 "I'm an enemy of average," the Madame has been quoted.
Indeed, her garden is not average. It features plantings en masse and numerous rare or endangered plants, 

especially among the cycads

and palms.

Jubaea chilensis, Chilean Wine Palm
 She married wealthy men.  But apparently Madame sold significant jewels from her collection in order to finance her cycad collection.

Really? I thought diamonds are a girl's best friend. But I guess rare cycads might be a gardener's best friend.

These aren't the rocks she sold

but she used this broken blue glass to border some of the beds--garden bling, if you will.

She created a blue succulent garden, 

a Japanese garden

a rose parterre,


and even a zodiac planted with succulents.

Chusquea coronalis, Mexican climbing bamboo
 It is part botanical garden and part formal estate garden.

The lotus plant (above), the namesake of the garden, already bloomed before I visited 

and only the pods remain on the plant. But I am just as happy to see the pod, 
which reminds one of a shower head.

Lotusland is a two-hour walk on a reserved tour for $35. You will be amazed. You will be entertained. You will be amused. And, by the end of the tour, I was obsessed with Lotusland. 

What a ride.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.