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12 Days of Cactus
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The 12 Days of Cactus

When putting this together, I envisioned friends and family sitting around the tree with a fire going. They’re finishing hot mugs of cocoa (laced with whiskey for the grownups). I hand out Xeroxed copies; they peer at the words. Teens giggle at the word “obesa.” Someone asks how to pronounce “saguaro.” But no one groans. They all know the tune. I clear my throat and begin…

On the first day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

A dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the second day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the third day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the fourth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the fifth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the sixth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the seventh day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the eighth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Eight mams a-milking, seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the ninth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Nine lithops dancing, eight mams a-milking, seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the tenth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Ten chollas jumping, nine lithops dancing, eight mams a-milking, seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the eleventh day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Eleven trips to Tucson, ten chollas jumping, nine lithops dancing, eight mams a-milking, seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

On the twelfth day of cactus, my true love gave to me:

Twelve ‘Sunburst’ drumming, eleven trips to Tucson, ten chollas jumping, nine lithops dancing, eight mams a-milking, seven saguaros spinning, six obesas blooming, five golden barrels, four claret cups, three hens-and-chicks, two agave pups and a dove in a prickly pear tree.

Now, if you’d like to suggest alternative or more alliterative lyrics, please do so. I likely have photos to match. I’ll update this as good suggestions come along. 

See the YouTube version, set to music:

12 Days of Cactus

Happy AloeDays, one and all! — Debra

Succulent topiary tree
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Six New Holiday Designs to Inspire You

To inspire and entertain you, I’ve selected six new, never-seen-before holiday design ideas featuring succulents. Do consider each as a launching point for your creativity, and feel free to share them with friends. I’d love it if you’d post photos of what you come up with on Instagram or Facebook, and tag me @DebraLBaldwin. Regardless, have fun and enjoy!Succulent topiary tree
Sempervivum topiary tree.
This is a riff on my 2017 topiary tree. I love hens-and-chicks but only recently have grown them successfully year-round. The concept for this year’s mini-tree was one by Margee Rader in my book, Succulent Container Gardens. I used nearly 50 assorted Sempervivum heuffelii (hew-FEL-ee-eye) hybrids in 2-inch pots from Mountain Crest Gardens. When the holidays are over, they’ll join my other “heuffs” in the garden. (Most semps don’t like our hot summers here in Southern CA but so far, heuffs–which used to be classified as Jovibarba–are doing well.) See my materials list for a topiary tree. Succulent pine cone ornaments
Ready-made succulent ornaments.
Speaking of Mountain Crest Gardens, the succulent pine-cone ornaments they introduced this year are a super deal. The set of three includes six sempervivums atop sequoia cones (each 3-inches tall by 1.5-inches wide) for $10. So that means you get six semps that you can wiggle off and plant after the holidays for under $2 each! Be sure to check out MCG’s other fetching succulent ornaments too.

Crassula tetragona Christmas tree

Mini succulent Christmas tree. This desktop tree is 8 inches tall with a 4-inch-wide base. To make glass balls appear to hang from branches, I held the three-stemmed cutting upside-down, dotted the leaves with white glue, then added beads. A small, shallow container makes the cutting look proportionally large and treelike. A glass jar lid sort of looks like ice, but any container will do including a flowerpot. A small floral frog (a flower holder made of metal pins) holds the cutting upright, and white sand with blue sparkles hides the frog and suggests snow.

Succulents Lit for the Holidays
Succulent garden of lights.
Every year Sabine Hildebrand of  Weidner’s Gardens nursery in Encinitas, CA, decorates her own garden with holiday lights. In December night falls by 5:00, so Sabine and husband Rob enjoy their glowing garden for hours every evening. She keeps the design simple—no colored or twinkling lights—to showcase the plants’ shapes and colors. There’s not much difference in decorating succulents instead of shrubs, Sabine says. “Do it late in the afternoon so you can see the results as it’s getting dark. Then rearrange the strings of lights as necessary.” See more in my new YouTube video: Sabine’s Holiday Succulent Garden.

Cactus decorated with lights

Ferocactus glaucescens in a gold-painted terra-cotta pot glows with mini lights.

Barrel cactus aglow. Inspired by Sabine’s garden, I added tiny lights to a ferocactus to create a holiday centerpiece for the patio table outside my kitchen and dining room windows. The plant’s translucent spines shine, making an intriguing display. See how to make it, step-by-step, on my website and in my latest DIY video: Decorate a Cactus with Holiday Lights. I also painted the pot to match the gold of the spines, and to make the combo look good during the day as well as at night. [Continue reading]

Cactus pad Christmas tree

Cactus pad Christmas tree.  Jim Sudal’s cactus-pad holiday tree reinterprets the traditional fir, and is perfect for the dry, hot Southwest. Like Jim, many residents of Phoenix (and well beyond) have stands of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica), a succulent iconic to the region. About 250 cactus pads from Jim’s garden cover a 7-foot-tall cone that he and friend Mark Faulkner assembled on an iron frame wrapped with poultry fencing. “We wore special gloves called Thorn Armor that did their best to protect our hands,” Jim says. [Continue reading]

Wonder why I didn’t include succulent wreaths? Well, there are so many gorgeous ones, I created a Pinterest page for the best of the best! 

Related Info on This Site:

Succulent Topiary Tree

 

Cactus Pad Holiday Tree

 

Decorate a cactus w lights

 

Books by Debra Lee Baldwin