Under the Spell of Cactus

 

I admittedly am a flower fan…perennials, roses, vines and anything “Wildflower-ish”, but…this fall on a trip to Ojai, I saw a large Opuntia with red round fruits on large oval pads near an adobe style home as we were taking a walk.  The combination was breathtaking.  I always take my camera to capture a delightful or unique moment.  I felt drawn into another dimension entirely as this adobe courtyard compelled me to enter… and tiny ground-hugging wildflowers garnished the setting.  The ambiance was enticing…almost hypnotic in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine.

Sometimes I go out for a walk through the nursery just as the sun is beginning to set and the light catches the spines on the vertical cactus giving it a soft glow.    Before long I’m on the ground, sitting, lying down in the dirt (whatever it takes) with my camera to catch the spell the setting sun casts on the cactus spines.  I watch as it lowers on the horizon…and I catch a shot of the Cacti as they softly radiate a silver or golden glow of gentle radiant light.  It gives them a romantic glow as evening approaches.

I’m also finding the beauty of patterns, shapes and markings… contrasting color of black or brown edging & thorns transform cacti into living art.  As I explore my new found interest in these unique specimens, it feels like a trip through a gallery….paintings, sculpture, creations of beauty.  It strikes me that landscaping with cacti is like painting with plants, gravel, and rock… you just create your masterpiece with a different media.

Agaves are extremely varied in leaf shape and size, and color.  They can be rigid or sprawling, wavy or straight but all bring their own dimension to the landscape.   When combined with verticals and orbs the drama of your “painting” unfolds like the curtain opening for a performance.

Some verticals are silver and slender, others blue with a top-knot of fuzz, and some others deep green with ripples and ribs, but they all have a part to play …adding height, casting shadows or catching the spell of the setting sun, while orbs, like Echinocactus grunsonii, the Barrel Cactus…with spines glowing like you’ve captured the sun itself look absolutely celestial in your landscape, while the green dotted pattern of the Echinopsis hybrid adds the intrigue of its subtle, quiet charm.

I now view a Southwest garden with splendor.  Mixing these astounding architectural cacti with drought tolerant perennials and soft succulents is an art that creates a “masterpiece” in the landscape.

As much as I delight in flowers, love how they dance in the breeze and make bouquets, I think I have found a new secret love.  I’ve become one of those girls who are attracted to the dangerous, good looking, mysterious type…the “Bad Boys” of the cactus world.  I know they are “armed and dangerous”, but I can’t help myself…I’m hopelessly under the “Spell of Cactus”!

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Summertime Projects…An Infusion of Joy for your Garden

We all like to spend time outdoors with family and friends in the summer, which leads to giving some attention to our outdoor living space. I have found that I love to spend some early evening time outdoors snipping, planting and dreaming up ideas for my garden area.

As I made my mental notes of fun ideas, I thought I’d share them with you. If outdoor decorating & creating brings you joy, as it does me, I hope I can pass along some positive energy and smiles to you.

    • I love “Market Lights”!  They are fun and inviting. Look for places you might want to try them.images1XP7PQQM

 

 

 

    • Plant a succulent, or perennial chair to place in your garden, porch or patio area. I go to vintage, antique barns, or second hand stores to find one that have some charm & remove the seat. You can give it a coat of chalk or spray 028 (2)paint first, if it needs some first aid. Staple or tack soft screen in the seat area leaving enough droop in the seat for soil. Fill your soil enough to give it a gentle mound to plant on. Then just plant with succulents or small assorted perennials!
    • Try adding some sand and smooth stones to create a dry stream bed. This is good for difficult areas to grow plants (too shady, hot or uneven) and gives a new dimension to your outdoor space. Be sure to give it soft sides and look at pictures of mountain streams first, to avoid a ring-around-the rosy look with your larger rocks.   This will avoid the “after-thought” look.
    • Add soft nature music to your outdoor entertainment area. Bird song, rivers, rain, breeze…will make you feel relaxed and transport you to the mountains or sea right in your own backyard.
    • Move some softness outside with overstuffed pillows and throws for evenings with friends on the patio.14 Mullen

 

 

  • Luminaries in the garden or patio tables make me “light –up” with joy! They are unexpected and your guests will feel transported to a delightful get-away…so will you. 
  • Shade sails are great for summer fun in your outdoor spaces where it gets too hot to sit, swim or entertain. They are readily available on the internet & Sunbrella makes them in several colors!imagesR7TT8R25

 

  • Find a place for a double-seated swing or glider… I love the ones that look vintage and can be hung from a beam. Just picture a nice summer evening gliding back and forth… feeling the evening air, reading, talking …or just dreaming as you sip that iced lemonade or coffee.images[8]

I enjoyed sharing my “wish list” with you…now have some fun making one of your own. I hope I gave you new vision as you look at your familiar space with new excitement. If you have some shady areas that need a punch of color, come and visit WB’s Shade House full of exotic Bromeliads, potted & hanging Succulents, decorative Driftwood and more.

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Have a Joy-filled summer in your Garden,

Jackie Jesch

Elements of a Meditation/Prayer Garden

In the busy world we live in, it’s nice to have a spot in your garden to “quiet” the buzz of your day… to breathe, relax, read, pray or meditate.

When we were up in the Bay Area of California, we began to walk a nature trail along a stream bordering the little town of Mill Valley. As we rounded a spot in the path we saw two ladies doing yoga on a deck under beautiful tall pines. It was so inspiring to see friends coming together in these quite surroundings to stretch away the stresses of life.
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The Soothing Sounds of Water

The Soothing Sounds of Water

I find gardening to be good therapy. Working with your hands creatively beautifying your landscape or garden area is good for the soul. Walking through botanical gardens or sitting with a friend in the fresh air of an outdoor setting with birds, and butterflies quiets our tensions and relieves stress. The sound of water multiplies the effect of that calmness.
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The Shabby Chic Garden

The Shabby Chic Garden 1
The Shabby Chic Garden 2I find myself intrigued by the Shabby Chic garden. It can vary so much in style. It often blends the appeal of vintage art or antiques…even furniture within your plant palette of choice. I’ve seen it presented with Roses and Perennials leaning toward a Cottage Garden appearance, but it can be achieved in formal or rural settings, as well. The uniqueness seems to be inspired by the creator of the garden, just as a painting is inspired by the artist.
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