Category Archives: Flora
2021 Santa Cruz County Fair winners
Back at the Santa Cruz fair after taking a year off for Covid-19.
In addition to potted plants, our entries included a number of arrangements… including this miniature dry flower arrangement – class = ‘Tractor Parade’, which won Best of Division. Other award winners were ‘Judges Special’ for our carnivorous plant collection.And more….
2021 Monterey County Fair Winners
Fair exhibits are one of my favorite things. Took a break from potted plants this year, and had 11 entries… floral arrangements, the usual scarecrow, wreaths, a fairy garden and more. Was honored to receive second place for the two arrangements below. The ‘Saints’ class is a vase inherited from my maternal grandmother. The ‘Seasons’ class is a vase hand painted by my paternal grandmother. I could feel them looking down on me…
First time entering in the Home Arts division, with these two decorated gourds.
Around the grounds: Summer 2021
My gourd collection is turning from natural fall decoration into works of art. Cutting and cleaning out the dried gourds is the hard part. Staining, sealing and weaving pine needles along the rim and adding beads and baubles is the fun, creative part.
Around the grounds ~ February
Succulent Pumpkin – How to
Succulent pumpkins last for months when cuttings are just glued on. Tacky glue works well, although it’s not waterproof. The succulent cuttings don’t need water, so when it’s time, I just put them out in the rain, and they fall apart, so I can replant the cuttings and toss the pumpkin on the compost pile.
Start with an unblemished pumpkin. No pokes, scrapes, or soft spots that will lead to rotting. Wipe clean and circle with glue and add moss around the circle and press down. This provides a base that will help hold the succulent cuttings in place, and stop drips, while hiding the mess in the middle. It helps to let this dry for a few minutes before proceeding.
Start layering cuttings from bottom up. Dab a little glue along the stem of the sedum that hangs down, and insert under the moss and continue around in several spots, pressing down in place.
Add the rosette shaped (aeonium) cuttings. Try inserting into a spot, trimming the stem if needed to get a snug fit. Cut the stems at an angle, with glue on the bottom side, and insert into place.
Spaced evenly, the layers of cuttings help support each other. If something slips, stick it back in (with glue if needed), and cup with both hands lightly and hold for a few seconds.
Continue with remaining succulent cuttings, around in the empty spots. As it fills up, you can just put a drop of glue on the end for the last few stems.
Let dry, occasionally cupping and pressing lightly to keep everything in place.
2020 Fair winners
Around the grounds: May
Spring gardening in March
Got an early start this year on zucchini by keeping them warm under some old windows hinged together. Harvest started in April.
The garden shed where seeds are started before going outside. The light helps them grow sturdy until April when the days are a little longer. These peas where planted temporarily in the new spot for thornless blackberries, and they got huge!
Forced bulbs – grass seed vs sedum
Forcing bulbs is a way to ring in an early spring or make the holidays festive. Adding grass seed to the pots has been my way to dress up the display during bloom. Timing is easy for Paperwhite Narcissus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They shoot up quickly, even in cool weather. But spring bulbs take a lot longer and sometimes the grass got too tall, especially in warmer weather.
This spring I used two types of sedum cuttings in addition to grass seed. The grass pots needed more water, and the roots competed with the bulbs.The succulents are drought tolerant and they will be something that you want to live on, like the bulbs, when planted outside.
More about forcing bulbs
Valentine’s Day Sale
Heart shaped succulent wreaths, full of cuttings will last all year long. 14 inches $50 each
Also smaller round wreaths 10″ for $35 and one larger 16″ for $60
Handmade with love, these felt keepsakes show them how much you care. 3″ $8 each
Mini pots with floral foam, moss, pepper berries and succulents. $4 each
Wood signs: felt flowers for inside and ceramic embellished for garden 10″-18″ $20 each
Original watercolor card creations. Blank inside for your own message of love. $5 each or one free with purchase.
Succulent pumpkins galore
Fair winners 2019
Succulent & flower boots
Salvaged boots that are practically brand new are too pretty to plant with dirt. The perfect solution is a plastic bag of gravel in the bottom and a plastic cup with floral foam to hold the plants. The foam holds everything in place better anyway. After the flowers have faded, the succulent cuttings will root and continue to grow if watered occasionally.
This faux snakeskin boot needed a little more tropical look, so I added some carnivorous pitchers.
Succulent flower arrangements
2018 Monterey County Fair Winners
It’s always fun to enter things in the county fair and see what everyone else is doing… here are this year’s winners.
The succulent side table won First Place AND Best of Show!! It was our first year entering the Compost Challenge… took 1st place and won $50 prize money. The scarecrow competition was pretty tough in the ‘Shake your tail feathers’ theme catagory… but we took home 2nd place.
Succulent workshop photos
My Creating with Succulents Workshop was a success! Everyone made their own succulent wreath, and themed bowl. With 17 ladies in attendance, there were all kinds of beautiful designs and good ideas. Sponsored by Aromas Hills Artisans, the Aromas Grange was the perfect spot!
Around the grounds: June
Around the grounds: April
Livingwear in the rain
The ladies have shed their livingwear to be watered naturally by the steady warm rain storm coming through today…. aka a ‘Pineapple Express’.
Their ensembles are laid out in the courtyard with the other tillandsias (aka air plants).
The mighty Amaryllis bulb
I always enjoy forcing these bulbs during the holidays. Forcing means to fool them into thinking that it’s time to bloom early. This usually involves potting them up with soil and water. I really had my doubts that these Amaryllis bulbs would bloom to their full potential being encased in wax. I received one as a gift for Christmas, and the first stalk went up and bloomed on January 8th. After cutting off the stem, a leaf turned yellow, and I thought it was done. But, then another stalk went up for Valentine’s Day… and it had four more flowers open up on the 1st of March. It’s amazing how bulbs can store enough energy to flourish like this without any water!
This poor Superbum Stag horn fern is finally getting a new shield, which will eventually cover the damage it endured during its stay at the Monterey County Fair this year. Stag horn ferns grow new shields only about once per year. I entered the amazing specimen when it was huge and healthy and looked like this: It was awarded a blue ribbon, but it was hung low enough that people touched it and rubbed its fuzz of. I know it’s hard to resist, but it doesn’t grow back. We also had record high temperatures during the five days that it was on display and it was badly scorched.
Around the grounds: July
Around the grounds: March
The raised vegetable bed is doing fabulous with all the winter rain. Harvesting this month: Swiss chard, cilantro, lettuce, kale and green onions. Colorful aeoniums are spilling out of the milk can lamp post. A pair of ducks have moved in across the way, enjoying ‘Lake Perkarsky”. This cozy little lake only happens during years with above average rainfall. Such a pretty little red centipede! Found it snuggled up under a piece of driftwood. The chicken shed is being engulfed in succulents.
Every fall I order bulbs to force for the holidays and spring. This season’s selection was Ziva Paperwhites (a classic for Thanksgiving and Xmas), and Narcissus. Silver Chimes are my absolute favorite, and then I usually pick another variety to try out. Paperwhites can be potted up in October, but the narcissus bulbs go into the garage refrigerator (where there aren’t any fruits or vegies to give off gas that can affect bloom) for about 6 weeks. Then they are potted up and placed outside in a cold, shady spot until the leaves are about 4 inches tall.
Then I sprinkle a big pinch of grass seed on the top and cover with bird cages (to keep the birds from eating the seed). Be sure to keep moist until the grass germinates.
The results are fresh looking, fragrant flowers that look so natural inside or out. When the flowers fade, the bulbs can be planted outside, where they will re-bloom year after year.