Posts Tagged ‘cactus’


I must say it was a bit depressing to read headlines from around the world today. From gang violence across U.S. cities, a new ‘trail of tears” as parents are being separated from children, resources for those most in need increasingly being eroded, and at the same time big business wielding its lobbying might to change policies that would have helped hold them accountable to the many for their actions as they work to increase wealth for a few. And then if I look outside my own borders to the rest of the world … well, goodness gracious. It is an avalanche or perhaps a mudslide of just damn bad news without clear sight of where hope lies on a grand scale. It clearly will not be coming from the White House anytime soon as that’s all that needs to be said for the moment about that sad mess and those sad people who do not represent me as an American. At the same time I know that there is lots of good work being done on the ground but where is the sweeping change to come? Is there a groundswell somewhere out there that I have yet to see? Time will tell … anyway, meanwhile, I choose to share these images of beauty, of prickly cactus crowned by flowers filled with light.








Read Full Post »

My mother kept a bucket of chickens next to the back porch.  It was a big white bucket like an old stew pot.  Hens and chicks was what she called the little spiky plants growing in there. No matter how hot the summers, no matter how many other flowers and vegetables died in the baking Virginia sun, those plants survived to flourish the following year. They were easy to transplant. I remember picking up the little ones … they just popped right up out of the soil … and tossing them into another little cup of dirt. My mom told me to stop doing that because she’d specifically positioned her pot of chickens. Their singular location, next to the porch, was part of her garden design.

photo by cynthia staples

Now my mom and I did not formally speak of things like garden design and water-saving plants like her cacti. My dad did not discuss these things either though I remember he kept a barrel to collect rainwater and that he rotated crops in our little vegetable garden. He didn’t really explain the why of his actions. It was just what you did if you understood the system of which you were a part.

photo by cynthia staples

That’s what stands out for me in books like The Water-Saving Garden by Pam Penick.  Penick invites readers who are interested in gardening to deepen their understanding of how their world works.  My parents grew up in a time and place and were of a generation that knew the sources of their water and understood that those sources were not guaranteed. For all sorts of reasons that knowledge was lost as human ingenuity and engineering made water readily available in many places and seemingly endless.  Today, people are aware that engineering is not enough. We are a part of a complicated system. Water is not endlessly available for our needs. But what if you really want a garden?

It almost seems selfish but I have to admit I’m one of those people. If at all possible, for my peace of mind, I like to see something green growing around me and know I had something to do with it. And despite my fond memories of my mother’s chickens, I don’t necessarily want to grow them. What are my other choices in a water-saving garden?

photo by cynthia staples

photo by cynthia staples

Pennick’s book stretches one’s imagination about what form that garden can take. She reminds and encourages people to take the time to understand the landscape and climate particular to their region. Humor is sprinkled throughout the book (e.g. “Think of your plants as astronaut-explorers, boldly going where no plant has gone before.”) as well as lovely and informative pictures.

The Water-Saving Garden is content rich and makes a nice addition to the reference shelf. Every idea can’t be tried all at once. It’s a resource I can imagine filling the margins with notes of lessons learned as I try to garden more wisely while still having fun.

You can learn more about this book via the following links. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Additional Links

About Pam Penick: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/152546/pam-penick/


Read Full Post »

I ended the year feeling a bit prickly.  But I do not like to stew in negativity and so this morning I decided to spend a few moments photographing the literal prickles on the few cacti I have scattered about my home.

No problems were solved but the act of movement, of looking outside of myself, was a wonderful exercise. And, to be honest, I think I’ve taken these cacti for granted. Tucked in various corners, they need so little care that I sometimes forget about them as I fawn over delicate sprouts and herbs and the occasional flowers and veggies I grow indoors.

I’m glad they were there on this New Year’s Day. 😉

Read Full Post »

As I entered the store, my intent was clear, to purchase a basil plant for a couple of bucks.  I then expected to go home and plant the basil in a bigger pot and watch it grow indoors throughout the spring.  I searched and then did find the basil … tucked way in the back of the store … a single plant that didn’t look so good.  My eyes then fell upon the tray of cacti.  The fuzzy fellow blossoming pink was a bit more than a couple of bucks, but I think that he was worth it.

Read Full Post »

… it was an impulse buy.  I had traveled to my local grocery store with a  specific list of items to purchase.  Prickly pears were not on that list.  And yet as I passed by that basket of fruit …

… I guess the overhead lights struck the skin in such a way that I was reminded of iridescent glass.  How could I resist such a display?

And yes, if I look close enough, I still see stars in a night sky.  Perhaps an aurora. 😉

Read Full Post »

My indoor garden sits on a glass-topped table.  I don’t think I have much of a green thumb, but these little plants have done well so far this winter.

Read Full Post »