frogs & succulents

September 23, 2013 in nature, plants, things built

Growing up, I was surrounded by maples and oaks.  When I moved to California, so many of the plants looked to me like creations by Dr. Seuss.  It took me a few years to stop seeing palm trees as exotic, foreign.

Until I moved out west, I had never heard the word “succulent”, a family of plants.  I knew a little bit about cacti and aloes and had seen hens-and-chicks a few times, but I didn’t know that they are all succulents.  Succulents grow well in southern California.  They don’t need much water.  Except for the occasional trim and clean up, they need little maintenance.  The succulents in our yard, they are easy to grow:  take a cutting and stick it in soil.  Because they are easy to grow, they’re great plants to share with others.

In gardens and nurseries, I tend to linger over the succulents.  Their variety fascinates me.  Although all succulents are designed to retain water and minimize its evaporation, they have evolved in such different ways to survive, especially when water is scarce.  Some have pore-less, bulbous growths that look like they’re made from play-doh or mochi, a Japanese rice cake.  Some, like agaves, have at the end of their tough spears evil spikes.  Many grow in geometrical, mathematical patterns.  As a group, they seem to grow in infinite, beautiful, and subtle shades of green, lavender, purple, yellow.  Depending on the type of succulent, their flowers can be quite vibrant.  It’s always interesting to see the different ways gardens and nurseries display succulents.

Lately, for some reason, the few garden tchotchkes that have caught my eye have been frogs.  Maybe frogs are the latest thing in gardening accessories.  Like Kermit, these frogs seem down to earth, lighthearted, and in a froggy way elegant.



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