Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cacti & Succulents, 1974 style…

All photos and text from Cacti & Succulents, written by William C. Mulligan, published by Grosset & Dunlap. There are some pretty entertaining nuggets in this book, I especially liked the "garden under a glass dining table" introduced by the Trumans at the White House. Hope you enjoy!

"Ideally suited to today’s oft-absent or vacationing gardeners…
Living with greenery is an increasingly popular trend: more and more people are recognizing the warmth and decorative beauty of plants and the enjoyment of tending them. And while many of are filling and surrounding our houses with growing things, we don’t always have as much time as we would like to devote to their care. Cacti and succulents are the answer to this dilemma; the make handsome and unusual additions to any environments, yet require relatively little upkeep."

"Caring for desert and jungle dwellers
For those cacti and succulents that are especially sensitive to moisture, substitute a thin layer of attractive gravel for the very top layer of soil. This will keep the plant from coming into contact with excessive moisture and adds an exotic touch.

Another rule that can be applied generally is never water either type on cold or overcast days…"

"Cacti/Succulents in the house
For the display of cacti and succulents in your home, there are no hard and fast rules concerning arranging and grouping. Try to achieve a distinctive effect by relying on your own sense and knowledge about the plants’ natural habitats. Cacti often stand alone in the desert, and for that reason a single potted cactus lends and austere and dramatic focal point to any room setting.

Above all, don’t be afraid to be original or adventuresome. Experiment with the contrasts and similarities of totally unrelated plants. If you want to set ferns alongside cacti, no one could be displeased by the beautiful counterpoint of these two opposite ends of the plant spectrum."

"In the garden
Architecture is a matter of major concern when you are dealing with these desert and jungle plants. Spanish or stucco frame dwellings suggesting the south can be greatly enhanced with softening succulents of size or large doorside cacti of height, with rounded raised beds of smaller plants in place of antique cannas and such. Some northern perennials of similar shape and quite tones, such as lupines, the dollarlike silver honesty and green and white caladium, can look appropriate at a distance…Or mix plantings without regard for city or climate. The challenge is here."

"By choice not chance – collecting
A few decades ago, our grandmothers covered every available sill and table with African violets, behind a sun-softening curtain to protect the foliage from burning. Today, many of us have our plant craze, and none is more satisfying than cacti and succulents. Some genera—aloe, agave, opuntia and many other listed in this book—are so broad that a compulsive collector can easily turn to any one of them. Often, after a few years of seeing variety, one settles down to the expertise of collecting one genus, joining its society and visiting its shows, even taking tours with a master horticulturalist to see for oneself the great collections."

"By choice not chance – collecting
"With more than two thousand species of the cactus family to choose from and several tens of thousands of succulent plants…well, why not specialize in collecting? Nobody ever collected them all."

"Natures Curiosities
Each is like a piece of living sculpture. Select with care, then give each a container uniquely suited to showing it off. Although you may cultivate the plants wherever you can give them the best care, from time to time bring each to a living area where it can be lighted dramatically and properly appreciated by you and your friends."

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