Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Sad, So Sad

It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
And sorry seems to be the hardest word

As I am watching my beautiful cactus/succulent garden over the last month this song keeps going over and over in my mind.  It has been so cold here and I feel sorry.  Sorry that I couldn't do more or should I say didn't do more to protect my beautiful plants.  Yes I have many in my garage and gazebo/greenhouse.  Yes I put frost cloth over most of my succulent planters.  But in all the years I have been growing my beautiful larger specimens of succulents this has been the worst winter.  The cold has been unrelenting in it's length and destruction.   A couple days of freezing cold in a row is ok now and again.  But we have had weeks on end of temperatures of 32F or lower.  And in that kind of sustained cold my plants just can't take it.  Could I have done more?

Let me show you!

I'm broken

I'm broken!
The combination of the cold and wet made this once prickly pear swell so much that it broke under it's own weight.

I have frost bite

I have frost bite!
It will take a really long time for my Agave to recover.  I will have to do a lot of trimming.

I am mooshy

I am mushy!
This red button prickly pear is frozen and many parts are mush.  I will cut much of it away.

I am frozen and wilting

I am frozen and wilting.
Another agave that will be cut way back!

I'm trying to be strong

I'm trying to be strong.
My large opuntia neoargentina always wilts in the winter.  Hopefully it will recover.

I have the chicken pox

I have the chicken pox.
Hopefully all this varigated prickly pear has is a little fungus and scale.  Most of my prickly pears have scale. Can't seem to get rid of it.

I am really embarrassed by my appearance

I am really embarrassed by my appearance.
My aeonium has tried to send out two blooms.  But both has been frost bit.  I even had this covered.  It usually looks much nicer even at this time of year.  And the kalanchoe marnieriana below was trying to get blooms but the ends are now mushy.

I am so thirsty

I am really thirsty.
At least the only problem with this mini blue chalk fingers in the garage is that it needs water.

I used to be so pretty!

I used to be so pretty!
I even had this covered with frost cloth!

I am needing a whole lot of work and love

I am in need of a whole lot of love.
This area was so beautiful in the summer.  I had it covered with frost cloth but it still took a beating.  I was excited that my pink bower vine against the fence had finally grown in and now it's almost dead again.  It will start growing again though.  It always does.  The aeonium in the middle is Voodoo.  Yes believe it or not.  It is usually a beautiful red.  I'm crossing my fingers on this one and the babies!

I am mad you didn't put me in the greenhouse

I am mad you didn't put me in the greenhouse!
This is my half wine barrel.  The firestick is completely gone and I really wacked the blue chalk fingers way back.  A couple of other plants in the back had melted into the dirt and had to be removed.  Hopefully my echium you see in the back pot will be fine.

I have a headache

I have a headache.
This plant did teach me a valuable lesson.  It seems that the frost cloth was on too tight.  So when it froze the top of this plant froze.  I should have put stakes around this plant so the cloth would not touch.  Next time.

I don't like my color

I don't like my color.
Part of this Kalanchoe Kalancho fedtschenkoi is burned by the cold but it will come back after I chop it back.

I want to be alone in my misery

I want to be alone in my misery.
My Kalanchoe marnieriana is going to be fine.  But the white stuff you see will have to be cut away.

I am dying

I am dying.
I have tried and tried to grow this columnar cactus.  Two winters ago it was scarred by cold.  It started to grow again but now has turned yellow and as you can see the base is turning black.  So it will be dug up and replaced by something else.

Ok, enough of the boo hoo's!  It will be a lot of work but I will clean it up and replace what I lost with something new.  New opportunities for sure!  Anyone want to come help?
Bring on Spring!
Until then remember:

It's Another Beautiful Day!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Fabulous Gardens of Laura Balaoro part 2

If you liked the little taste I gave you of Laura Balaoro's garden in my last post get ready for a big bite!  I have so many super photos and cool stuff to show you I am going to jam them all in this post.  So hang on to your seats!  Don't forget to start with part 1 if you haven't checked it out yet.  Laura has so many more planting ideas to show you.

Lined path

Remember the sitting area I show'd you in the last post.  I mentioned that a path in the back was lined with echeverias.  Here it is.  As you can see Laura has a wonderful ability to incorporate companion plants perfectly with succulents.

Aeonium sunburst

A huge Aeonium sunburst and Echeveria 'After Glow' provide a wonderful focal point as you are heading down her garden path.  The plants just draw you in and make you squat down and take a closer look.

Kalanchoe Luciae 'Fantastic'

This plant was one of my favorites.  You can probably tell why.  This is called Kalanchoe luciae 'Fantastic'.  And pardon my pun but this one is way more Fantastic than any one I have seen!

Colored bowling balls

Look what Laura does here.  She planted beautiful Agave 'Joe Hoak' with intensely red Crassula coccinea 'campfire'.  She also tucked in some Echeveria hybrids.  Behind the Agave's is a variegated Euphorbia.  The red plant at the top with the long thin leaves is Phormium 'guardsman', a great companion plant.  And if that was not good enough she painted bowling balls green, orange and red and uses them for extra Wham!  She is brilliant!

Echeveria agavoides and portulaca

How about this Echeveria agavoides and some pretty little Portulaca!

Succulents and companion plants

I just love this photo!  It illustrates Laura's garden in one shot.  Her use of succulents (the Agave), companion plants (colorful geranium hybrid), and finally her use of garden accents like this dragonfly metal lantern.

Echeveria hybrid

I had to get a close up of an Echeveria hybrid nestled here with grape leaves and smaller succulents.


Agave 'Blue Glow' surrounded by Kalanchoe luciae and to the right a variegated Euphorbia.

Beautiful sitting area

Here is another great place to sit and ponder.  What should I do next, plant or read?

Cool planting area

Isn't this a wonderful planting area.  Plenty of work area and space with containers of needed dirt etc. right below.  And the way she decorated it is so charming.  It's a great set up and the danccing watering cans are so cute.

Sink of cuttings

This sink has been built into the work area on the left hand side.  An old kitchen sink is filled with dirt and is used to start some cuttings.  Check out the sign, share with friends!


I don't normally take a lot of flower shots but the light was so perfect on this Rudbeckia hirta.

Bird boot planters

I really loved these boots with little birds planted with echeverias against this rock wall.

Succulent shoe rack

  Here is another gem for you.  Laura found this old children's hang over the door shoe holder and planted sempervivums in the pockets!

Old gum ball machine

I found this in her work area.  It's an old gumball machine without the top.  She added dirt, sedum's and crassula's!  Who needs gumballs!

Old stump with sedum

You may not believe this but this is a cactus skeleton that a friend gave Laura.  They got it in Arizona.  Inside she planted Donkey tail sedum.  Imagine this a year from now with more sedum growth hanging over.  Wow!

Stream in between ponds

This is the little stream that runs between the two koi ponds I told you about in my first post.


Perfect way to display this unusual and eye catching succulent.  Sitting atop this pedestal is Agave geminiflora 'Rasta Man'.

Hanging bed covered by grape vines

These spaghnum window planters are filled with succulents.  Hanging overhead are her grape vines that run along the back porch.

Love this pot

Another great little potting.  Jade under planted with a tiny succulent.  I don't know the name but they look like little echeveria rosettes.  See how she uses floral glass for top dressing.

Tiny agave

She combined this Agave potatorum 'Kichiokan' with this dark almost black pot.  And the glass top dressing is perfect.


This is a beautiful little scene.  In the large wire pot is a beautiful bromeliad.  I love the spots and the pink tips. Underneath is another pot of beautiful green aeoniums surrounded by her companion plants of coleus, fern and ivy.

Succulent shutter door

I wish this photo had turned out better.  But what do you do when your friend has an old shutter door to throw out?  You take it and plant succulents in it of course!  She added moss and dirt in the slats and then planted.

Succulent shutter door

Here is a close up shot of the door.  Every inch is filled up!

Birdhouse on a post

I just loved this little scene.


Quack Quack!

Yellow on white

Two flower photos in one post!  Holy cow!  This is a pretty white Anemone.

yellow and purple

Don't you just love this yellow ceramic basket filled with Cryptanthus bivittatus 'red star'.  This is a type of bromeliad that stays very small.

Kalanchoe 'Fantastic'

Another Kalanchoe 'Fantastic' on the back porch.

Rastafarian happy face planters

Such happy little Rastafarian happy face planters!

I would like to personally thank Laura Balaoro for having us over to her beautiful home and garden.  And then giving me permission to blog about it.  She does not think it is a big deal but you and I know better.  She is a very talented lady indeed that we can all learn from.  Please make sure that you check out the Succulent Fanatics on Facebook and ask to join if you love succulents like we do.  And  if you would like to see more photos of her garden click on my Facebook page.  And please like if you haven't already.

Until next time!  Keep yourselves and your succulents warm and remember:

It's Another Beautiful Day!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Fabulous Garden of Laura Balaoro part 1

You are in for a treat!  This last year on my way to the Succulent Extravaganza in Castroville, CA I made a stop in San Jose, CA to visit a special friend.  Prior to my visit to Laura Balaoro's home she had warned me not to expect too much of her garden.  She sooo underestimates herself it's not funny!  Her home and garden was a visual gift.

Laura was raised by her Grandmother who totally lived off the land.  She learned everything about gardening from her.  Once she got married and had children she spent most of her time on them and left her gardening behind.  It wasn't until her children  went to college that her passion returned.  She started a garden club in the area and joined other garden associations.  In 2005, she became a certified Master Gardener in Santa Clara county.  While she volunteered for the Master Gardeners program, she went back to school and got her degree in Environmental Horticulture and Landscape Design.  She still volunteers for the Master gardeners program and she helps educate the public about gardening.  She now specializes in growing succulents and their companion plants.  And this is so evident when you see her garden.

She also started the Facebook group called Succulent Fanatics!  It is a great group with a super bunch of succulent lovers!  If you love to grow succulents I would encourage you to check out the group and ask to join.  It's a lot of fun!

Let's look around her garden!

Front door

Before I even knocked on the door I couldn't help but start taking shots.  She had posted some photos of her beautiful succulent pumpkins on Facebook but this was the first time I could see them in person.  Everywhere I looked I saw something beautiful or interesting.

Succulent pumpkin of Laura Balaoro

Here is a close up of that beautiful succulent pumpkin.  Moss is glued on top of a Cinderella pumpkin then succulent cuttings are glued in place until it is as full as you want.

Kalanchoe luciae 'Fantastic'

A beautiful Kalanchoe luciae 'Fantastic'

Pony tail palm in clear marbles

I love how she used these clear marbles as top dressing in this planting of a Pony Tail Palm.  She loves to experiment with different looks and textures.

Zig zag plant and friends

 Another great pot in the front of her house.  So far I haven't even entered her home yet!  Lol

Succulent wall planter

Before I went inside a member of the Succulent Fanatics Jeanne Eige show'd up with Debra Lee Baldwin.  Jeanne had picked her up from the airport and I was going to drive Debra the rest of the way to the Succulent Extravaganza in my car.  It was great to see her again and she started taking photos right away also.

After we went inside her gorgeous home we headed outside through her back sliding glass door.  When I looked to the left this is the first thing that I saw.  Wow, look at that succulent tapestry!

Vertical planter

Here is a close up for you!  So stuffed full you can hardly see the frame behind.

Ribbet collage

The man and woman on the left are so cool!  And she planted them so perfect.  Laura has a great imagination and knows just what to plant in each pot she finds.

View of back right with patio

Standing from the top of her back porch I got a good look at her beautiful back patio and two Koi ponds.  Yes I said two of them.  She has a little stream that runs between them.  All around the ponds is a path that runs throughout the gardens.  We had the most wonderful lunch under the umbrella at the back right.  Full of fresh vegetables from her garden.  Her home grown tomatoes were the best I've ever eaten.

BBQ pit turned into table

This is an outdoor BBQ pit that Laura turned into a table.  Wasn't that a great idea!  And it is just perfect for setting a few pots of succulents with a succulent pumpkin.  The colors go so well together.

Succulent pumpkins in waiting

This wagon stuffed with different varieties of pumpkins and was just sitting on her patio looking pretty!  And she got the great idea of spray painting orange pumpkins gold and silver then topping with succulents for the Christmas season.  Isn't that brilliant!?

Beautiful Pallett planter

This is a cool tiered planter made of pallet's.  I don't know how she did it but the results are great on her patio.  It doesn't take up too much space and it's perfect for smaller succulents and their companion plants.  Check out the sempervivum coming out of the knot holes and the cute talavera lizard accent.

Hanging planter

I don't know if she made this hanging planter but it was really interesting.  I love the succulents hanging over the edge.  And can you see the lime up at the top on the left?

Beautiful sitting area

If I hadn't been so busy taking tons of photos I would have loved to just sit and relax in this pretty little sitting area.  So many succulents all around and see the path in the upper left hand corner.  I think it is lined with echeveria's.

Tiered succulent planter

This tiered planter was just bursting with succulent goodness!

Isn't this cute

Laura has a great imagination.  This looks like a table with tea and pretty little cakes for an afternoon get together with the girls!

Variegated Agave Attenuata

Who wouldn't love to grow this beautiful variegated Agave Attenuata.  I have tried to grow the non variegated form but it gets too cold here.

Urn of succulent loveliness

Planted in this fabulous urn planter is Sedum album 'Coral carpet'.  I love how she mimics the grapes on the side of the urn.  Laura is brilliant!

Sedum sieboldii

Laura had a few of these outstanding Sedum Sieboldii plants hanging in just the right place to give you that Wow factor!  All of them were in full bloom.

Sedum sieboldii blooms

I wanted to show you a close up of the beautiful pink on the Sedum sieboldii blooms.  Aaaah my favorite color!

This will have to be the last photo for this posting.   I am already working on the second post for Laura's beautiful garden.  The photos in the next post will just about knock your socks off.  I can't wait to show you what we saw.  So stay tuned I will publish it in a few days.

Until then remember:

It's Another Beautiful Day