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A cactus garden is a garden which contains primarily cacti. Some cactus gardens are entirely landscaped with cacti, while others may include succulents, desert grasses, and other plants which are adapted to the same environments favored by cacti. While many people think of the famous saguaro cactus when they think of cacti, cacti actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a cactus garden can be a very colorful, diverse place.
Many cactus gardens are located in dry or desert environments, although it is possible to maintain a cactus garden in a wide variety of climates. Cacti are very cold-hardy, thanks to the extreme cold of the desert at night, and many of them can cope with wet climates, as long as they are established in well-drained soil. Some cactus gardens skirt the climate issue by being established indoors, with cacti gracing lobbies and other indoor locations.
A cactus is a plant in the family Cactaceae. These plants have a number of adaptations which help them survive in dry environments, including vascular systems which store water and nutrients. Many cacti also produce thorns, along with colorful flowers which appear intermittently, and fruits. Some common examples of cacti beyond the saguaro include prickly pears, organ pipe cacti, barrel cacti, queen of the night, Easter lily cacti, and pincushion cacti, but these examples just begin to scratch the surface of the cactus world.
Landscaping in a cactus garden is dependent on the location of the garden. In wet climates, for example, cacti are usually grown in a raised rockery which allows for excellent drainage, as cacti do not like to sit in standing water. Landscapes may be shaped with hills and valleys, with the cacti growing in soil which may be left exposed, or covered in rocks, wood chips, and other materials. Larger cacti tend to be located near the back of the garden with lots of room to grow, with smaller specimens near paths so that they can be easily seen.
While you might think of a cactus garden as a hostile, thorny environment, cactus gardens showcase the diversity of the cacti, with a variety of flowering cacti and plants with a range of shapes and sizes, ranging from cacti which look like long pointing fingers to cacti which resemble plump ottomans. A cactus garden is extremely water-efficient, a definite bonus in dry climates, and it can be used to showcase native species, helping the garden to blend in with the surrounding environment.
While visiting friends in Arizona I was amazed at all the different types of cactus we saw growing in the desert and in well landscaped yards. Before seeing it for myself, I never imagined that a desert cactus garden could have so much color and be so pretty.
Many of the cacti were planted among rocks and with other desert flowers that really caught my eye. My friends had an underground irrigation system for their garden, and that made it very easy to care for, yet very pleasing to look at year round.
After visiting my sister in the Southwest part of the country, I fell in love with the cactus plants. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of cacti and that they had such pretty flowers when they bloomed.
When I got home to my cold climate, I decided to plant a small indoor cactus garden. I don't have much of a green thumb and figured since they do not need a whole lot of water I might have a better chance of keeping them alive.
I discovered that I can find them with other succulents in the home and garden section of the store just about any time of the year. I enjoy having a touch of the warm Southwest in my home during the long winter months.
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