Category Archives: Flora

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents—SALE!

Nature's Geometry: Succulents, by Russel Ray

I had 400 copies of my book printed in October 2019.

Based on my sales at cactus & succulent club meetings and shows, I should be out of them by now.

However, the pandemic canceled meetings and shows throughout the nation.

Meetings where I was scheduled to do a 45-minute Powerpoint presentation and sale books were canceled at

    1. South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society (Los Angeles, California)
    2. Gates Cactus & Succulent Society (Riverside, California)
    3. San Francisco Cactus & Succulent Society
    4. Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society
    5. Long Beach Cactus & Succulent Society (California)
    6. Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society
    7. San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society
    8. Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society (Arizona)
    9. Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society (Georgia)

I have been selling them for $35 at my Etsy shop, $30 at plant shows, and $25 at meetings.

Effective today, I am now selling them for $25 at my Etsy shop.

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents

I’d rather have my book in YOUR hands than sitting in boxes in my garage. I don’t know how long I will sell them at this price, so get yours today!
Etsy also takes credit cards. Free USPS Media Mail shipping to U.S. locations.

Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

San Gabriel Valley C&SS review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" presentation

Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

Nature's Geometry: Succulents back cover

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Not where you’d expect it

Picture of the Moment

I think snails are fascinating creatures.

Some of my fascination might have something to do with that Fibonacci spiral that they carry on their backs.

This one seems to be quite comfortable on the spines of Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cactus. Not where you’d expect this little one to be.

Snail on the spines of Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cactus

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Tecoma stans ‘Yellow Bells’

I think I have a new favorite tree. This is Tecoma stans ‘Yellow Bells.’

Tecoma stans 'Yellow Bells'

Giant Forest in Sequoia National ParkTechnically, since it doesn’t get taller than 25 or 30 feet, Tecoma stans is a bush. To me, though, 25 feet definitely is a tree, albeit a small tree. Certainly it will never be mistaken for a redwood or sequoia.

I don’t want tall trees on my property since we get 60-70 mph Santa Ana winds out here, and I don’t have the land to plant something a mile away so it doesn’t get toppled onto the house.

Previously, the jacaranda and mimosa were at the top of my list. I have both on my property, and I’m keeping them pruned and shaped into small trees or bushes.

I got Yellow Bells as a little one-gallon plant in June 2018. As you can see from the picture, it likes it out here in the dry desert heat. It seems to be evergreen and ever-blooming.

I chopped it back to three feet in May 2019 and May 2020. The picture is from August 15, 2020. In other words, it grows extraordinarily fast and blooms year-round with no watering beyond what comes down from the sky, and no fertilizer. It seems to be a great dry-garden complement to my cacti & succulents.

The branches/wood seem to be very brittle, so I will keep chopping it back each year to keep it small and bush-like, especially since we do have those Santa Ana winds of 60-70 mph out here in the East San Diego County boondocks.

Tecoma stans 'Yellow Bells'

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Thank you, bees and hummingbirds

I live in my own little world

I thought I would share some pictures from my gardens this past week to cheer us up in these dystopian times we seem to be living in.

Of course, cactus are my specialty, and this is cactus-blooming season. I have included the name of the plant if I know it. The ones that are unnamed probably are species of Mammillaria, Rebutia, Sulcorebutia, and Notocactus since I know I have some of those in my gardens.

One
Ferocactus wislizeni

Two

Three
Notocactus uebelmannianus

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

White flowers never have been my favorite colored flowers, so it’s obvious that I did not know the color of the flowers on this plant when I bought it. However, the flowers are gigantic and beautiful nonetheless.

Trichocereus grandiflorus (Thai hybrid)
Trichocereus grandiflorus

There is a microclimate on my property in the corner where the garage attaches to the house. Temperatures are about 10-20°F lower than elsewhere. It’s so cool and shaded from our hot East San Diego County boondocks sun that I can grow geraniums, begonias, fuchsias, and ferns in that corner. Here are a couple of my geraniums that are starting to bloom.

Geranium

Geranium

I love mass plantings of flowering plants but at this stage of my life, I have decided to live without the room required for mass plantings. However, I do have fifteen Aloe striata planted in a row in front of a fence. They are awesome when they bloom with a billion orange flowers on top of tall stalks (inflorescences).

Succulent garden

My Aloe striatas  started throwing up inflorescences in early March. It takes a couple of weeks for them to reach height and start blooming. Then it takes three or four weeks for all the flowers to bloom and green dohickeys (fruit) to show up, providing that the bees and hummingbirds have been doing their jobs.

Aloe striata Thank you, bees and hummingbirds.

Out & About in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Out & About

I went camping for three days last weekend in Anza-Borrego Desert in Southern California, perhaps the best ever camping trip I have been on.

Out of several hundred Ferocactus cylindraceus plants I saw in the desert, I found these two that clearly show spiraling flowers, rather unusual in cacti.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Go, Fibonacci, go!

When I moved out here in the East San Diego County boondocks at 682′ elevation in July 2017, I started landscaping with my favorite plants. Keep in mind that, at that time, I had 62 years of experience growing my favorite plants.

Well, two of my favorite plants, Agave attenuata and aeoniums, don’t like it out here. Agave attenuata simply doesn’t like it when it gets below 40°F, of which we have had several weeks, and aeoniums don’t like it when it gets too hot, of which we have had several weeks of 100°F+.Grow dammit!

After trying to will them to live and look nice, I gave up in October 2019, and I’ve been replacing all of them with cacti, mostly Ferocactus.

One of my purposes in going desert camping was to get a good look at Ferocactus cylindraceus since it’s native to Southern California just 80 miles from me. I am officially in love (but don’t tell my husband).

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I found the tallest ferocactus I had ever seen, standing six feet and six inches tall, four inches taller than me.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I’m the one in red.
Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Additionally, I found the clumpiest clump (with seven heads!) and the tallest clump.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

And, to top things off, I found the desert rains and a desert rainbow!

Rainbow in Anza-Borrego Desert

Out & About—California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California

Out & About

When I was in Bakersfield, California, on February 11-12, 2020, high on my list of places to visit was the California Living Museum, or CALM for short. It specializes in California native fauna and flora.

California Living Museum logo

California Living Museum logo

Although the California Living Museum is only 14 acres with 250 animals representing 80 species, I can highly recommend it.

Keep in mind that I have been a member of zoos, arboretums, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries since I was 13 when my wise old grandmother got me a membership to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. After that it was the San Antonio Zoo and the Houston Zoo. Also keep in mind that I have been a member of the San Diego Zoo since May 1993.

When I was searching for things to do in Bakersfield and found the California Living Museum, I immediately compared it to the San Diego Zoo at 99 acres, 3,700 animals, and 650 species, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at 1,800 acres, 3,500+ animals, and 400+ species.

I had convinced myself that I would be disappointed, but I just cannot bear to miss a zoo, arboretum, or sanctuary, so off I went, thinking that since it specialized in California native flora and fauna, maybe I would see something that I had never seen before. At $10, the price was right, too!

I spent four hours at CALM, which breaks down to $2.50 per hour. That’s entertainment that doesn’t break the bank!

Following are some of my best pictures of CALM.

Seeing a saguaro (Carnegia gigantea) in the parking lot gave me great hope
and it only got better.California Living Museum

California Living Museum

California Living Museum

Barrel cactus
Barrel cactus

Northern Mojave Rattlesnake
Northern Mojave Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Sidewinder
Sidewinder

Sonoran Gopher Snake
Sonoran Gopher Snake

Chuckwalla
Chuckwalla

Desert Iguana
Desert Iguana

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise

Desert Bighorn SheepDesert Bighorn Sheep

CoyoteCoyote

Mountain Lion
Mountain lion

Mountain lion

Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel
Nelson's Antelope Squirrel

Roadrunner
Roadrunner

Turkey
Turkey

Western Scrub Jay
Western Scrub Jay

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

California Living Museum

Did you notice that I got a picture of both a coyote and a roadrunner?

Coyote and roadrunner

Did You Know?—Spirals in plants

Did you know?

Fibonacci Numbers
1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 8 – 13 – 21 – 34 – 55 – 89 – 144 ….

One of the cool things about spirals based on Fibonacci numbers (i.e., the golden spiral) is that in many plants, one can see both clockwise spirals and counterclockwise spirals.

The number of spirals in each direction in a mature plant almost always are consecutive Fibonacci numbers.

In the following picture of a mammillaria seen at the Los Angeles County Arboretum on February 13, 2020, there are 34 clockwise spirals and 21 counterclockwise spirals.

Mammillaria at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

Unsolicited comments and updated speaking schedule

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

In 1966 when my wise old grandmother was helping her 11-year-old grandson (me!) set up his first company, she told me not to solicit comments, saying that if someone wanted to comment, they would. Unsolicited comments are the best.

So here are unsolicited comments about my book and presentation:

From Etsy
Etsy review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From my Facebook page
Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From Instagram
Facebook review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents"

From the Facebook page for San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society
San Gabriel Valley C&SS review of "Nature's Geometry: Succulents" presentation

Here is my updated “Nature’s Geometry in Succulents” speaking schedule. Come see me if I’m in your area!

  • February 11 – Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society
    Bakersfield, California
  • February 13 – San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, Los Angeles County Arboretum,
    Arcadia, California
  • March 14 – Visalia Succulent Society,
    Visalia, California
  • May 10 – South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Palos Verdes Estates, California
  • June 7 – Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • July 1 – Gates Cactus & Succulent Society,
    Redlands, California

Whenever I go to speak to a club, I always take plants, books, and shells to create a display about Nature’s Geometry. The plants and shells exhibit the golden spiral.

Here’s my display from the 2/13/20 meeting of the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society:

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" display for cactus club meetings

Nature’s Geometry in Succulents—2020 speaking schedule so far

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

Having published my book, “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” in October 2019, I’m now on the speaking circuit for cactus & succulent clubs throughout the nation.

Here is my current “Nature’s Geometry in Succulents” speaking schedule.

Come see me if I’m in your area!

  • February 11 – Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society, Bakersfield CA
  • February 13 – San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia CA
  • March 14 – Visalia Succulent Society, Visalia CA
  • May 10 – South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society, Palos Verdes Estates CA
  • June 7 – Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society, Atlanta GA

I will be driving to all locations, including Georgia.

Consequently, I’m contacting the cactus & succulent clubs between
San Diego and Georgia to see if I can get some more engagements
on the schedule for June.

Raindrops on an aeonium