The Twelve Days of Cactus

Feel free to hum along.

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.

Happy AloeDays, one and all! — Debra

My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog postsnewsletterspublic speaking and workshopsphotosvideosmerchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardensand Succulents Simplified.  www.debraleebaldwin.com 

About Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin gardens on "an inhospitable half acre" in Escondido, CA, near San Diego. She is an award-winning photojournalist and artist with hundreds of articles and columns to her credit. Debra's books are Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. www.debraleebaldwin.com.

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15 Responses to The Twelve Days of Cactus

  1. Rita Xavier December 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Wonderful, and I sang along. Photos are gorgeous, Debra.

    Hi, Rita — That tickles me that you sang along. I can’t sing, but somehow I still got this stuck in my head. — Debra

  2. Rebecca Sweet December 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Thank you for giving me a new Christmas song this season! Love, love, love it!

    You’re welcome, Sweet Rebecca. Btw, my husband gave me the idea with “five gol-den barrels.” — Debra

  3. Lisa at Greenbow December 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    I loved this look at the cactus. You deserve all those trips to collect such wonderful photos to share. Happy Holidays to you too.

    Thanks, Lisa. Yes, lots of travel, and never without a camera! — Debra

  4. Loree / danger garden December 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Debra!!! This is fabulous, thank you!

    Hi, Loree — Glad you enjoyed it ;+) — Debra

  5. Jacqueline Schick December 20, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    What fantastic pictures and wonderful lyrics. I am always amazed at the beauty of cactus. Makes me want to lift the picture for a chile-chocolate!

    Happy Holidays!

    I know. I love cacti, and would have more if they were friendlier. — Debra

  6. Toni - Signature Gardens December 20, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Very clever post!! Good job :-) I went to Tucson for the first time a couple years ago and it was gorgeous. We went to a desert botanical garden; it was amazing!! Who knew there were so many varieties of cacti (at least 12!)

    Hi, Toni — Many of these photos were taken when I was in Arizona earlier this year. There are several wonderful botanic gardens, including Tohono Chul in Tucson, where I photographed the dove nesting (amazingly) in the cholla. — Debra

  7. Billie December 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I sang along!! Thanks!!

    Hi, Billie — Looks like we could get a whole choir going! — Debra

  8. Marie December 21, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Wonderfully clever and happy post. Great photos. I’m sure the tune will be stuck in my head all day!

    Thanks, Marie. Yes, it’s been stuck in my head ever since I wrote it. At least it’s better than “Frosty the Snowman” or “Santa Baby”! — Debra

  9. Town Mouse December 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    Ah, not many could have even dreamt this up. I myself probably know about 3 cactus by name…What a cool post!

    Thanks, Ms. Mouse. Btw, I took liberties and included a few succulents that aren’t cactus. I had more photos of those, and in any case, the Latin names of most cacti are polysyllabic and unpronounceable!

  10. Saxon December 22, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    On the 12th day, could those be the drums of Billy Goodnick of the King Bees?!

    Ha! I don’t think Billy would get much music out of those drums. They were at an exhibit at the San Diego County Fair, a year or two ago when it had a musical theme. — Debra

  11. Kat December 23, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Only a true, true love would give one Chollas.

    Kat, LOL. Btw, when I addressed the Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society, I made the comment “I don’t really recommend that anyone grow cholla,” and they hissed (in a good-natured way). During Q&A, many hands were raised, with members telling me how beautiful cholla can be. I promised to look into it (gingerly). The result is my GGW post, “The Joys of Cholla.” — Debra

  12. janine robinson December 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    that was darling! so original and refreshing! have a happy holiday!!

  13. Bracey Tiede December 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Love it! Happy Aloe Days to you too!

    Thanks, Bracey~ wish I could remember who used that phrase, which I delightedly pounced on. Helps to say it aloud ;+) Debra

  14. Steve Asbell December 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    This was great, Debra! Just curious, but what type of prickly pear is that? I have a couple that I started from a generic seed packet and they’re starting to get pretty big, resembling your dove apartment up there. :)

    Hi, Steve — Thanks for stopping by! It’s Cylindropuntia fulgida, the same cactus shown later on in the post. A type of cholla. I took poetic license calling it “prickly pear,” btw, which is the common name for plants in the genus Opuntia. You also might enjoy my earlier (and more horticulturally accurate) post, The Joys of Cholla.– Debra

  15. Dixie December 28, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    What beautiful photos! I love the picture of the golden barrels – especially as I got one today! – Dixie from South Africa

    You did?! I love golden barrels. They add such texture, contrast and whimsy to gardens. One of my favorite plants, and perhaps my fave cactus. You might enjoy this article I wrote about them for the Los Angeles Times: http://www.debraleebaldwin.com/images_articles/Sullivan.htm. — Debra