Many decades ago when I was but a youth of 11 and living with my wise old grandmother, she gave me a small area in her yard where I could have a garden. She had the most beautiful yard, except for that one area where she could get nothing to grow.
She delegated that area to me, and I went to work, turning it into a cactus rock garden. I had dry rivers, a dry lake, and lots of rocks.
I went with a friend and his parents to a huge cactus nursery almost a hundred miles away and came home with some unique cactus to plant in my little garden. I had no idea what kind of flowers, if any, those little plants would have.
The sun hit my little garden from about 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It was relentless, and hot. This was deep south Texas.
One day I came home from school at 3:30 and found my little cactus garden all abloom with flowers of all colors and sizes. Some of the smallest cactus plants had the biggest and brightest flowers.
Ever since that day I have been a fan of cactus and succulents.
At one point 18 years ago I had a 3,984-SF house on 1.83 acres of land with a 35,000-gallon pool and a 5,000-gallon spa. The whole place, inside and out, was an arboretum with over 500 different species of plants. When Jim and I no longer could physically take care of that property, and downsized, I decided to depend on the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, San Diego Botanic Garden, and Balboa Park for my gardening fix. I have only a few plants at home now, all of them succulents so that Zoey the Cool Cat won’t get a cactus needle in her nose.
After all the rain we have had this year, my little succulents seem to be perking up, and yesterday one of them bloomed:
That is a Lithops species, commonly known as living stones, pebble plants, mimicry plants, and flowering stones. They have only two thick leaves and no true stem, and the flower comes up between the leaves. They are small plants, usually no more than an inch above the soil surface. Very easy to grow with a unique appearance and beautiful flowers.
All succulents are cactus, but not all cactus are succulents. For the most part, succulents do not have those nasty thorns, which makes them that much more pleasant to grow. For more information and pictures of these little ones, see the Wikipedia entry on Lithops.
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