Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Truly Tiny Gardens

Andrew and I flew down to Southern California last week for an early Thanksgiving visit with his family. The weather forecast was calling for cloudy conditions with rainfall—not the SoCal experience I was hoping for. Thankfully blue skies and ample sunshine greeted us our first morning on the ground.

When Andrew's mom relocated to California from New Mexico (to be near her other son and his family) she purchased a manufactured home in a small 55+ community. We've been there a few times now, but this is the first time I noticed her neighbor's succulent gardens. I love it when the need surround yourself with plants is expressed so exuberantly—and in such a small space! 

Most of the tiny gardens were a mix of in-ground and container plantings.

This one was definitely a minimalist style...

Lots of color here, with no flowers.

That's a happy Pachypodium lamerei.


My eye was first drawn to the Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' but then I started scanning around all the other beauties.

The stapelia bloom wasn't attracting any flies.

The stressed coloration of the aloes was magnificent.

There were actually two 'Mediopicta Alba', I wonder if one was a pup of the other? I also wonder what happened to the lower leaves? Perhaps the were trimmed to allow more planting space?

Agave cornelius, I believe?
In addition to their plant collection they also had a great collection of rocks.

I don't know aloes well enough to make an ID on this colorful creature.

But I know that's an Agave desmettiana hugging the mailbox support pole.

The garden extends across the driveway to several large containers.

I wonder if the opuntia pads are going out, or coming in?

Is the plastic bottle a watering mechanism?

Can you see the lizard on the ground in front of the low planter with feet? 

There were so many lizards scurrying around everywhere, but they blended in so well (and moved so fast) it was nearly impossible to get a photo of one.

Picture perfect cactus!

This was a head-scratcher. Why the need to elevate the containers so much? Are they keeping the mailbox upright?

The final garden I photographed was packed with cool plants.

I was just a few days to early to see the first bloom open on the tall cactus.

This one also included an assortment of collected rocks.

A great little opuntia full of character...

And big barrels!

These tiny gardens were so packed with well loved plants, such a pleasure to see.

During our quick trip I managed to squeeze in a visit to Lotusland, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the Ventura Botanical Gardens. 

There will be more SoCal garden goodness sprinkled in over the coming weeks (and months?)...

To receive alerts of new danger garden posts by email, subscribe here. Please note; these are sent from a third party, you’ll want to click thru to read the post here on the blog to avoid their annoying ads. 

All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. This was a great post and proves gardens don't have to be huge to be attractive and show off a variety of plants. Thanks, Loree.

    1. You're welcome and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Where there is space gardeners will find some way to create. I love these little pocket gardens each with their own personality. The final one with that big totem cactus just goes to show that big plants do fit into tiny spaces. The colouration on the final photo with the aeonium is gorgeous.

    1. Yes! That giant cactus made me so happy, it's unexpected and perfect. The aeonium look so shiny clean after the rain the night before.

  3. I'm surprised to see so many of these homes with scads of succulents but those plants do make excellent giveaways so maybe the interest quickly spread from one household to another. The relative ease of care (at least if they don't get huge) probably makes them a good fit too. As to lizards, you can't walk a foot without seeing one when the weather is warm here either. There are zillions of baby lizards at the moment and they do move faster by comparison to the larger ones.

    1. I thought the succulents were in answer to the punishing site conditions. You're planting up against a metal wall (at least the older homes appear to be metal, I don't know if they all were) and in an area surrounded by concrete. My mother-in-laws vehicle (a newer model Honda or Toyota SUV) had a plastic panel melt in the reflected heat. But I'm sure you're also on to something with the "pass-along" effect of succulents.

  4. "There were so many lizards scurrying around everywhere"... another reason I couldn't live in SoCal. I'm glad you got a shot of sunshine and prickly plants.

    1. You don't like lizards? But they're so cute!

  5. I would have been so tempted to ask for cuttings to bring back. That's a surprising amount of plant diversity for a manufactured home community - I imagine it helps that many of the residents are retired and have time for gardening.

    1. And I bet they would have shared! My luggage was all ready on the full side and I still had garden visits to make, gardens with nurseries, so I needed to save my space...

  6. WONDERFUL. Shows what we can do, even further on, when we are so dedicate to keep on gardening, small spaces, changed environs, and more. Every plant we cherish and grow adds to our world. Gardening keeps us alive and whole. Thanks!!!

    1. You're welcome, and yes gardening definitely keeps us alive and whole.

  7. Oh, to live in Southern CA! These are such fabulous gardens! I love them! Thanks for showing a different side to gardening in a small space!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!