the gift of inspiration

My son marveling at the size of a Cholla, his shoes had to be scrapped off because of the hundreds spines stuck in their soles.

“It’s interesting how the generosity and enthusiasm of one gardener can influence another to find joy in a previously dismissed group of plants.”

the Outlaw Gardener, June 2013

I love this quote, it perfectly illustrates what can happen if you give yourself permission to change your mind. It can take a while of course but some day you take a look at your girlfriend xeric border and fall in love. Then later you are offered fabulous quantities of opuntia and chollas… Suddenly you love cactus and wonder: “Where have those spiky things been all my life?”.


I have no doubt that some day I will move on to other pursuits but that no longer worries me or makes me feel inadequate. I find as I grow a little older that I no longer find constancy in all tastes and things  a quality, and instead feel it reflects a lack of curiosity. Better try new things and find out I don’t enjoy them than always wonder.

On this note, at the back end of our trip to St George this November I decided to explore the area big box stores (it was a Sunday) with the hope of finding a few small agaves. It was not to be, but no matter, the HD there had the most amazing variety of opuntia, barrel cactus and even a very spiky euphorbia.

I found two opuntia I had been looking for at very low prices. I mention the cost because it is not at all guarantied that they will be hardy in our zone (7). As my husband put it, don’t fret too much, they are at the right price point for an experiment.


The two in question? Two pads of the purple opuntia Santa Rita (not shown) and a splendid looking “Burbank Spineless” Opuntia ficus-indicta. The violet cactus will do fine I hope, it is thought to be hardy to zone 6. But the Burbank might have to be potted and brought in.[As you can see above, I did end up potting everything.] Being spineless is definitely a plus in that case. I would love to plant outside in the ground the spineless US/Mexican native Opuntia cacanapa named ‘Ellisiana’  if I can find it locally as it is hardier. It is not to say that I don’t favor spines… but the lime green on the spineless pads is irresistible.

My 7 year old son gave me the necessary nudge to purchase the uber-cool beavertail cactus (opuntia basilaris), it will be mostly an indoor plant, I do not trust such a dainty bunch of pads to make it through the first frost.He also managed to add a rather large cleistocactus to the cart… for the 4 hours it took us to drive back north its erect form wagged in our truck like a couple of dog tails; it doesn’t take much to amuse us!

I think I can fit a teeny-tiny barrel cactus on the table if I can  find one. A small agave would be swell still, Cactus and Tropicals…here I come!

Cholla in Snow Canyon, Southern Utah



2 thoughts on “the gift of inspiration

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