Saxon’s recent post, showing gorgeous December photos from his past calendars, has inspired me to share with you the images from my first-ever calendar along with info you might find useful should you want to create one yourself. It’s easy to do through Cafe Press or Zazzle, online sources for note cards, coffee mugs, T-shirts and other customizable items—even postage stamps.
Wicked Plants author and Garden Rant blogger Amy Stewart suggested I look into Zazzle after I had posted several possible images for greeting cards on Facebook. Amy has her own Zazzle store, at which she sells note cards based on her original paintings.
My Miss January is a variegated dwarf agave hybridized in Japan: ‘Kichi-Jokan’.
So, at Zazzle, you provide a photo or artwork, plug it into a template, and they do the rest—manufacturing, collecting money and shipping. You can make items solely for your own use, or for sale to the public (or both). Zazzle keeps a whopping 90% of the sales price, so when I launched Succulent Chic (my online gift shop hosted by Zazzle) I knew I wasn’t going to make a killing—basically, I hoped I’d make enough money to cover my own purchases (I have). The main reasons were to have a fun and fresh outlet for my creativity, to make unique gifts, and to enhance my brand and niche.
The February page of my calendar hints at Valentine’s Day with Kalanchoe ‘Butterfly Wings’. It’s a new hybrid of an old plant commonly called “mother of thousands” because little plantlets along the leaf margins fall off and root readily. It’s considered a weed by many succulent enthusiasts, even though the plants produce spectacular panicles of coral flowers. (I happen to like it.) This pink hybrid’s plantlets, however, are not viable due to a lack of chlorophyll. But they sure give the plant a lovely frilled look, don’t they?
March is a spiral aloe, Aloe polyphylla, one of the most visually appealing succulents. It’s also tricky to grow, especially in warm climates like mine. Spiral aloes are native to high mountains of Lesotho, South Africa. They grow on near-vertical surfaces, are unfazed by snow and freezing temps, and prefer having their roots bathed by icy water.
April is when many cacti bloom, and among the most spectacular are Trichocereus (Echinopsis). Every spring, the owner of a cactus nursery lets me know when they flash into flower, and I rush over. If the weather’s warm, the flowers last only a day or two—barely long enough to lure pollinators, much less photographers. Isn’t it ironic that the flowers of many cacti resemble water lilies?
May is a bevy of golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii). I love this photo’s repetitions and edgy suggestion of motion. Doesn’t it look like they’re rolling toward you?
Despite being photogenic, cacti are too prickly to be popular with gardeners. So June is a succulent that, when I show it to garden clubs, everyone loves: a ruffled echeveria.
July is Agave parryi var. ‘Truncata’, which has rounded silvery-gray leaves and crimson spines. It’s hardy to the low 20s.
August is a mix of mostly crassulas. In the center is Crassula ‘Campfire’. At 11:00, Crassula tetragona; and on the lower left, Crassula ‘Rubra’.
September’s Mammillaria celsiana has dainty pink flowers that contrast with its spines.
October hints at Halloween with squidlike orange Aloe vanbalenii. You may remember it as the lead photo of my Oct. 20 post, “The Sea-Sand Plants of Desire,” a fictional account of my visit to an eccentric professor/plant collector. I illustrated the post with succulents that suggest undersea flora, photoshopping each to make it look eerily moonlit.
November is a bowl of living stones, Argyroderma patens, from my book, Succulent Container Gardens. It’s a photo I never tire of because of its Where’s Waldo appeal. Can you tell which are the pebbles and which are the plants?
December shows presents that appear to grow, like flower buds, on a prickly pear cactus. I used this same image to create holiday greeting cards with matching postage.
Although Zazzle’s prices are high (about double retail—$20.95 for a calendar), they have great sales. I never buy anything at full price. For current specials, check the banner along the top when you visit the site.