Book review: Success with Succulents by John Bagnasco and Bob Reidmuller.

I have a feeling it’s rather hard to stick to just one when you’re considering growing cacti and succulents indoors…you might start off that way but then two years in, you stand in your living room and realize you have 300 of them (and 26 cuttings in various stages sitting on the kitchen counter) and you. want. more.  They’re just so easily collectible…all those beautiful and curious textures and shapes and exotic blooms, how can you possibly resist?  (Note to my hubby: this is my way of easing you into the grand concept of our future decor).  Unfortunately, if you’re me, you’ve already killed two cacti in unfortunate watering mishaps, and you’re not sure if you should brave dipping that toe in again.  The answer is yes, yes, I should.

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John Bagnasco and Bob Reidmuller’s new book Success with Succulents: Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Cactuses and other Succulents (2017, Cool Springs Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group) is comprehensive, yet easily accessible – the ideal title for both novice and experienced growers of these marvelous plants.  Not just restricted to houseplants, the book covers outdoor varieties as well, and offers tips for winterizing tender plants indoors if your climate isn’t favourable.  The first part of the book focuses on practical advice for selecting, planting, care, and propagation, including troubleshooting for pests and diseases. The rest of this fantastic resource is devoted to over 100 profiles of cacti and succulents, with gorgeous photographs and detailed descriptions that will help you identify mystery plants or serve you well as you wander the nurseries hunting for that special one.

Or six or twenty or….  😉

Do you grow cacti or succulents?  Which ones are your favourites?  (If you have  links to any of your blog posts about them or photos, please feel free to share!).   


*The Quarto Group generously provided me with a review copy of Success with Succulents. As always, my opinions and thoughts are my own.

September blog fun.


Eeep!  I can’t believe it’s mid-September already!

I had a bunch of projects and work to attend to at the end of last month and although I had scheduled a few blog posts during that time, I failed to offer personalized replies to many of your wonderful comments (although I did leave a general message on each entry). I just wanted to let you all know that I really, really appreciate all the feedback on Flowery Prose, and please do keep those comments coming – I love to read your insights and experiences! Going forward, I will strive to be a bit more timely and dedicated to commenting – both here and on all of your amazing blogs!

On to the links…I have a nice eclectic mix for you this month:

Kerry posted this on her blog Love Those “Hands at Home” way back in July but I think these cooler days of late summer/early autumn might be the perfect time to make these amazing balsam pillows – I absolutely love her reuse of vintage linens and I am dreaming about that splendid fragrance….

This post about seed-saving from LifeoftheOriginalHortBabe is very timely for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and full of excellent advice!

Are you trying to get your fall (or spring?) cleaning done, and doing a bit of organizing in your kitchen while you’re at it?  This essay will perhaps make you rethink the necessity of having a perfectly tidy spice cabinet – and it will definitely make you smile!  (Check out Margot’s blog while you’re at it!).

Pure eye candy:  Time-lapse photography of cacti blooming. Love this!

Fun, whimsical flower art:  These drawings by artist Jesuso Ortiz are a mixed-media delight!

This wonderful post about Harvard University’s Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants is a fantastic read! Don’t miss the links at the very bottom of the entry; you’ll be forwarded to more photos and information about the collection.

Finally…I’m not sure why anyone would outfit a squirrel with a GoPro camera, but if you want to take a breakneck journey through the treetops from a squirrel’s perspective, you can – just click here for the video. As expected, it’s a bit on the dizzying side. Now, if only the little critters would stay in the trees instead of digging up my newly-planted bulbs….

A few add-ons –

Book “reviews” from my other blog The Door is Ajar:

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl.

Joe Fiorito – Rust is a Form of Fire.

Don Gutteridge – Coming Home.

And my yummy recipe Green Beans with Chervil from

Enjoy the rest of your month!  ♥

New windows, garlic greens, and other things.

Sooooo…I’m waiting patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently – who am I kidding, really?) for the snow to melt here and in the meantime things are happening on my windowsill.

I mean, REALLY happening.  A couple of weeks ago, maintenance staff arrived with new windows for our apartment building.  It was definitely cause for celebration, as our previous windows were at least two decades old – probably more like three –  and we were having issues with ice building up between the panes (especially as one of them had a small hole in it).  The hardware wasn’t working smoothly anymore, either.  Of course, once the new windows were installed, I couldn’t bear the sight of the chipped windowsill, and we had some imperfections on the wall from when we had blinds put up a few years ago, so out came the filler and the paint.  I’m extremely pleased with the results – but now I think the whole place needs new paint!  UGH.

The African violets are certainly happy with the new windows and the sunshine.  These two bloom frequently, every 2 to 3 months or so.  I have a couple of others as well, but the one looks to be on its last legs and the other hasn’t bloomed in about a year.


African violet - 11 March 2014

And there’s a leaf cutting I started a couple of months ago.  I wish I could say it is from the plant that is dying, but it’s not – I didn’t have the forethought to take a cutting and now the mother plant is so far gone I don’t think it would be useful to try.  It’s too bad – the pale pink flowers were so pretty and delicate, almost sugary-looking.


African violet pink

I keep buying cacti – with my watering habits (“when I remember to, which is often nearly too late”), they seem to thrive.  I was all excited when I brought this Mammillaria spinosissima home, thinking I had a new-to-me species until my hubby reminded me I already had one. (My excuse is that the “red head” on my established one has long grown out).  I don’t know how he remembered this and I didn’t – I honestly thought he wasn’t paying attention.  Good thing I don’t buy designer shoes or handbags – he’d call me on them every time.  😉


And I’ve been growing garlic greens!  I planted a LOT of garlic in my community garden bed last fall, both bulbils and bulbs, but I still had some bulbils left and I really wanted to use them up, so I popped them into a pot and voila!  Fresh greens in less than two weeks. It’s been so nice to use them in cooking.


I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!  What home and garden projects have you been working on lately?