Sunday, March 02, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Green Thumb Sunday

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Gardeners, Plant and Nature Lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Today's post is in honor of my old friend and fellow certifiable plantaholic Alicia, whom I saw yesterday morning at the KGCB conference. She planted a wonderful cactus and succulent demonstration garden at the home landscaping idea garden at the MSU campus and drove teams of volunteer Master Gardeners (including me) to maintain it for several years. Then last year, upon a design change at MSU, the cacti and succulents came home to Genesee County, to be installed at two Mott college campuses and at the Easter Seals office in Flint. What an enormous job for a little woman! Three garden installations, but done, as planned!

Most people may use succulents, among which are the sedums, sempervivums, cactus, and yucca, here and there as colorful accent plants with interesting texture among their other perennials, but Alicia's demonstration garden included only hardy succulent plants (with, after a few years, a backdrop of ornamental grass added to screen the view from the railroad tracks that ran through the university property.)

Here in Michigan, who knew we have a native hardy cactus, an Opuntia, that grows in our sand dunes on the west side of the state? (I've seen them growing in the state parks along Lake Michigan.)
I think succulents will become more important for landscaping in years to come, valued not only for their visual interest, but for their low water requirement which reduces landscape watering costs, and their virtual pest free state which makes maintenance so easy.
Tomorrow I'll tell a little story about my experience with making my own cactus jam from the fruit of my Opuntia pictured above. But for now I'll look for some more photos to post of this common cactus growing near my driveway that you see in the GTS photo.

Opuntia blossom:

Ripe Opuntia fruit:

And finally, what was in the mind of that cat! PeeWee, a feral cat who adopted us, took her baby kitten right to this bed of cactus to nurse her. Neither she nor the kitten seemed to mind the prickles at all! Go figure.


No Rain said...

I have a lot of Opuntia, which one would expect in Arizona, but I think folks would be amazed at the cold hardiness of this genus. The species you've shown has a wonderful flower. I occasionally eat the fruit, but have never made jam. I usually just buy it. Have you ever tried the pads (napoles?) They have a bell, or mild green pepper, taste to me. I think the fruit has a watermelon-like flavor.
Happy GTS,

Brenda Kula said...

Cats are strange creatures. One of mine is dozing on my printer, warming himself underneath the lamp! Love your site. I'll be back to visit soon!