We celebrated my friend Laura’s birthday last weekend in her parents spacious back yard. Her father, Bruce, is an avid gardener and her mom, Shirley, an artist. Together they’ve created a beautiful and eclectic home filled with personal treasures and stories to match.
The back door exits into a greenhouse/sun room filled with flowering succulents, small cacti, and sculptures. The sun room exits on to a covered patio, then opens on a walkway. Wooly thyme grows through the cracks. Shirley tells me that they built a brick walkway in a circle surrounding the house so the kids could travel the path.
Garden paths unfold into other areas: the vegetable garden under way, berries along the fence, fruit trees and flowers and grass. Laura’s husband is a certified nurseryman, so between Doug and Bruce, I’m always learning new things.
The biggest surprise in the garden lies just beyond the arch of a climbing rose: a wondrous garden of cacti.
The largest of this group tower over the house. They’re at least twice my height. Two of them were in bloom when we were there. This one
and this one
Of all the cacti, I found this one the most interesting.
Apparently they are close to extinct in the wild, but are popular with cacti enthusiasts. I gently touched one of the spines, amazed at how rigid and strong they were.
I hope I’ve properly identified the plants. There was no time to take notes. We were all too busy chatting, laughing, taking pictures and making crowns. The party theme was a Celebration of the Accomplished Woman, so what better way to personify that than with a crown.
Here’s a photo of me with the ‘birthday girl’ sporting our freshly minted crowns. We had so much fun.
Cacti vs. cactuses (I had to look this up)
Cacti is the Latin plural of cactus, and some writers use it in English. Cactuses is the English plural. Dictionaries list both, and neither is right or wrong. Also, like many names of plants, the uninflected cactus is sometimes treated as plural.
The prevalence of the Latin cacti can be attributed to the influence of Latin on biological nomenclature. These Latin plurals are not considered out-of-place in botany and other scientific fields, and some make their way into broader usage, but there’s no good reason that the ordinary English speaker should have to abide by the rules of Latin grammar.
We say ‘cacti’ as the plural. As this is virtually a country of rain forest cacti are not found naturally here. Bruce’s garden is definitely different! I am not a lover of that plant, though I find it quite fascinating and respect both its life saving properties and self-protection abilities. I guess in your part of the world it is more natural to see cacti in deserts and such-like? Plus with your drought and water shortage makes absolute sense to grow them …… I just wouldn’t choose to plant them in my garden. I know several people though who adore them and who know all about them and who do grow them in their gardens. They are very nice people, so I cannot judge their strange prediliction for prickly, unfriendly, isolationist gardens. 🙂 I shall just wander off and stroke my mint, sage and lavender and feel vaguely eased…….. and remind myself that isn’t it great we are all different and isn’t it great that I can visit other gardens that are so different to the ones I have planted! 🙂
Love the crowns! 🙂
LOL, Pauline. You just plastered a smile across my face. I’m a tactile person as well, so I like plants that I can touch and get close to without fear of injury. Bruce’s garden is huge, with this owning a small, out of the way corner. Next time I see him, I’ll ask why he started one.
They are a good plant though for semi-arid climates.
Isn’t that cactus collection amazing! I have never seen anything like that in a private garden before. The note on the plurals is interesting… I am now going to check on the plural of crocus, as it has been bothering me! LOL! Thanks Alys, and I love the crown!
It really is amazing, not to mention perfect for our semi-arid climate.
Isn’t if funny how these words can trip you up? Here is another link. They say the plural is croci. I’ve alway used crocuses.
Thanks Alys! And I read that “crocus” can be used as the plural too! http://articles.courant.com/2009-03-17/news/words0317.art_1_plural-crocus-formulas
I’m glad to know both are correct! It’s nice to be informed, isn’t it? Honestly, I could read all day. I love learning new things.
Thanks, Cathy…or should I say Cathi (hee)
It looks like a good time was had by all. Love the crowns and especially the idea of celebrating the accomplished woman. That is an extraordinary cactus collection. I love succulents but not overly fond of cacti. After so many years of living in the desert, I was more than ready for lush and green. It is so fun to see how others do their gardens. But then, I’m just a nosy girl. 🙂 I learn from everyone. Thanks for sharing.
Marlene, I love looking at houses and gardens. I enjoy open houses, garden tours and simply looking at houses as I walk by. I spent hours during my travels in Europe just walking the streets and admiring the different architecture and design.
What area of desert did you live in? I would never survive that with my ‘British Aisles’ complexion.
Spent 10 months in Phoenix, 12 years in the high desert northeast of Phoenix. We had snow and cold but anytime I wanted to shop I had to go to Phoenix or Flagstaff. Flag was 2 1/2 hours west, Phoenix 3 1/2 -4 depending on how far over the speed limit you went and how many Elk on the road. Lovely but too isolating for this social butterfly. 🙂 I have so many photos of the houses in Germany. Now that I found all my photo’s I’m a happy girl. 🙂 Hugs.
Wow! That is dedication. You’ve really lived in a variety of climates, haven’t you?
I’m so glad you found all your photos. They are gems among gems.
Nice job on the photos (or should I say photi for plural – ha!). Aren’t the blooms beautiful?
Thanks for sharing the lovely evening and accomplished woman!
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Ha! Photi…good one, Laurie.
And thanks for the compliment.
Amazing cacti! Never had any luck with this type of plant but the garden is to die for. Glad you had such a good evening.
Thank you so much.
Well now, I completely see where dear Laura gets her creative sensibilities and artistic flair. I’ve seen photo’s of the beautiful rose arch on Facebook. How interesting to have two such contrasting gardens in one. Their home sounds very cool. I’ve always imagined a greenhouse attached, like so many wonderful english countryside homes you see in magazines. The Photo Booth pic of the two of you is really sweet. Such big smiles and obvious love for one another, it’s very dear. You look like a couple of kids who just jumped into a dime booth 😀 That’s a fun party idea to have everyone create a crown, I like that a lot. The trims are really exquisite and special and a great take-away from a memorable evening.
Pauline and I are on the same page on the Cactus Garden. I do admire all of Bruce’s Cacti for their low water needs. Important for your location for sure. They almost look like sculpture to me, but they’re pretty foreign to us. I tend to like the rambling and romantic aesthetics of an English Cottage Garden. The ONE house plant I have is a cactus. I bought it to deter Petals from jumping on the mantle. So far, it’s working. Thanks for sharing Bruce’s unique garden, very interesting indeed. wok
You would love exploring the garden, Boomdee. They have a yard five or six times the size of ours, so he can dedicate different areas for different things. Her mom is equally artistic, hand-making fabric ‘dolls’ that really are more sculpture. Stunning work!
I’m an English Garden lover too. It’s what I group up with. But I appreciate the uniqueness of all gardens, and always feel like they have a story to tell.
Thanks for reading and commenting, today and always. xox
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