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.