2011 Calendar Adventure

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

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.

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 

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications. www.debraleebaldwin.com.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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A Year In My Garden January 5, 2011, 5:57 am

I enjoyed the pictures for your calender very much – and I have bookmarked Zazzle. I particulalry like the May shot which gives the impression of rolling hills in a particulalry spiny landscape

Thanks! I love that photo, too. There’s a nursery near me that grows golden barrels in the ground until they’re ready to be potted up and sold. I love going there when the light’s right to enjoy the plants through my camera lens. — Debra

Jan (Thanks For Today) January 5, 2011, 6:54 am

Hi Debra,
It’s really nice to have someone as well-known and published as you tell all of us ‘out here’ that it’s ok to use a place like zazzle! I think many people think it’s not ‘classy’ enough for their products…but I like the ease of creating products even better than cafe press. It took me quite a while to feel ‘comfortable’ about using zazzle publicly because I didn’t want to appear ‘tacky’…so thank you so much for saying all of this. I don’t have any ‘stock’ in the company & you probably don’t either…it’s more the fact that it is OK to promote our ‘stuff’ there and that we should feel good about doing so! So thank you;-) I LOVE your images. That was a super idea for Christmas cards…so unique. I remember seeing that on FB when you were making them and I think that’s when I realized that zazzle, though not always inexpensive, is a place we garden bloggers can feel good about using. Thanks! And, happy New Year.

Hi, Jan — Thanks for your very kind comments, much appreciated! Happy New Year to you, too. I noticed there’s a lot of inferior stuff for sale on Zazzle, but I don’t associate my brand with theirs. Besides, I figure with such mediocre competition, my stuff will shine. Search Zazzle for “cactus” or “succulents” and (modesty aside) other than what I offer, you get items with photos and artwork that are uninspired—like an afterthought in someone’s line. What bothers me more than anything is that succulents are ID’d incorrectly. A poster of an agave is keyworded “cactus,” and that’s just one example. Looks like not a lot of hort people use Zazzle! — Debra

professorroush January 5, 2011, 3:20 pm

Debra, thanks for the links to CafePress and Zazzle…I guess I never thought about some customized things like this and you’ve illustrated well exactly what one can do with it.

You’re welcome. I do hope this didn’t come off like a sales pitch for CafePress or Zazzle, though. Their prices are a bit too high. — Debra

Tovah January 5, 2011, 10:09 pm

Absolutely salivatingly phenomenal, Debra
When I saw August, I just had to ask = have you ever encountered Crassula muscosa in blossom? Cute little thing. I brought it in (despite its nickname = the rattail cactus) and it began to blossom (barely perseptible, itty bitty, microscopic nothings). But eee-gads, the stench. At first I thought that something (mouse-like) had died. Ended up having to turn it outside into the freezing night. Just couldn’t live with it. Who knew? — Tovah

Hi, Tovah — Another common (and nicer) name for this delicate, yarn-like stacked crassula is watch chain. I have some growing in an undersea-themed dish garden, but it has yet to bloom. When it does, I’ll take a sniff…gingerly! — Debra

Town Mouse January 5, 2011, 10:49 pm

What an inspiration. I’d just pondered that I really wanted to make better photos in 2011, this is even more of an incentive. Maybe by the end of the year I can do a calender too!

Hi, Town Mouse — Keep your camera handy, and whenever you see something beautiful, shoot it! I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with. — Debra

Bonnie January 6, 2011, 9:04 am

WOW! Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful information.

You’re welcome, Bonnie! Thanks for stopping by. –Debra

Janet January 6, 2011, 1:09 pm

I have heard Jan (Thanks for Today) speak of Zazzle, but hadn’t checked it out. Think I will venture over there and see what I find. Will also check the Cafe Press site as well. Thanks for the info and such wonderful photos of those succulents.

Please let us know what you come up with! ~ Debra

Dixie January 15, 2011, 2:41 am

Those succulents are all so beautiful! I especially like the variegated agave. Aloe vanbalenii looks great too. I wish mine would turn red like that, but there’s too much rain at the moment. As always, your photos are absolutely stunning!

Thanks, Dixie! Yes, with a lot of rain, Aloe vanbalenii is merely green. Still squidlike, though. — Debra

Sara Chapman in Seattle, USA January 20, 2011, 1:23 am

What beautiful images! I have made a calendar myself, of Tulip images, that you might like, a few still available at http://www.lovethatimage.com/ (I hope it’s OK to leave this link). I made the calendar myself and had it printed and am very happy with the practical details. Next year I’ll get it going in the fall like it should be done, but I think I might do roses next. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos.