Succulent Bowl Workshop

Friday’s Succulent Bowl Workshop was a great turnout, thanks to everyone who attended.

Thrilling, Filling and Spilling succulent bowl

Thank you Debbie and Berta for inspiring me to move forward and put the workshop together.

2014-09-26 11.11.44Special thanks to Sue for showing the class the 3 basics to designing a succulent bowl which are to use: “Thriller, Spiller & Filler”; The thriller is the focal point which can be a large or colorful plant, spiller is the medium size plant material surrounding the larger plant and spilling over the edge of the bowl and the filler is the small plants that’ll be surrounding the sides of the container more or less filling in the gaps. DSC_0086

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Sue said that chop sticks are good for poking small holes for the stems and for tucking small bits of succulent into the arrangement.

Manolo, of Terra Bella Nursery in Chula Vista, explained that the potting soil should include some perlite to lighten the mixture and  help with drainage.  He recommended watering the bowls about twice a week till the roots get established and then once every 10 days after that.


All the participants were able to create beautiful bowls full of many different types of succulents. Angie, a Chula Vista Girl Scout leader, said “I think it’s a project that the girls in my troop would love to try! We’re working on the “It’s Your Planet” Girl Scout Journey and learning about waterwise gardening would fit in perfectly.”

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Two children came to the workshop and they each worked on creating an arrangement. They enjoyed all the interesting shapes and colors of the plants.

Becky, another participant, talked about arranging succulent bowls for her daughter’s wedding next fall.

Sue had one arrangement that included some fresh blossoms that was really pretty.

2014-09-26 11.14.32Participants used some interesting containers including a glass heart shaped dish and a “strawberry jar”.

Elizabeth filled an old tea pot with potting soil and then planted it with succulents. “I’m going to put it in my kitchen” she said.

Teri said that she was going to put her new container garden on her balcony.


Berta said she loved the spikes of red flowers in the succulents in her bowl.


Finally, a big and special thank you to Manolo of Terra Bella Nursery who brought all the beautiful plants to share with the workshop participants!  Terra Bella Nursery is at 302 Hollister Street,  on the west side of Chula Vista,  just south of Main Street by Route 5. They carry a beautiful selection of succulents and other drought tolerant plants that are perfect for our Southern California landscapes.
Contact Manolo at (619) 585-1118

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Rice Canyon Clean-ups

DSCF0868The September 20th Rice Canyon & Discovery Park Clean up, sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 5009, was very successful! They had 116 volunteers, picked up  272 lbs. of regular trash, 60 lbs. of recyclables and rescued 3 shopping P1030521carts. A BIG thank you to all the volunteers who came to help support I love a Clean San Diego’s Canyon Clean up!

Thank you to Katelyn Adame for organizing and running the event for part of her Silver Award project.

P1030529Troop 5009 (Cheetahlicious All the Time) is the first Girl Scouts to adopt a canyon in San Diego. Their inaugural clean-up was January 18th2014. They had a total of 28 P1030546volunteers and picked up P1030539approximately 285 pounds of trash from Rice Canyon across from Discovery Park.

On Thursday, June 19 2014, native San Diegan and LA Dodger, Adrian Gonzalez along with his wife Betsy Gonzalez, hosted the first-ever Gonzalez Scholars  Environment Clean-Up Day in their hometown of Chula Vista. Nearly 50 students and their family members along with other special guests joined Adrian and Betsy for a rare, fun-filled morning that also benefited the community’s Rice Canyon open space preserve. chulavista_banner1P1030528The students worked side-by-side the pro baseball star to remove trash from Rice Canyon while engaging and spending quality time getting to know the Gonzalez family.  Local nonprofit, I Love A Clean San Diego, was on hand to facilitate the environmental clean-up, which also included removing graffiti, weatherizing a kiosk, removing invasive plants, and planting native plants.

P1030510P1030527Volunteers are needed Saturday, October 11th, 2014 from 8:30AM – 12 noon for the 12th Annual Beautify Chula Vista Day!  This year, volunteers can participate  at Rice Canyon at Discovery Park, or at Harborside ParkClick here to register. Activities include litter and graffiti removal at both sites, and planting and invasive plant removal at Rice Canyon at Discovery Park.  Help spread the word by passing along the event flyer to your coworkers, friends, and family!

Cacti and Succulent Donation

On behalf of the City of Chula Vista Open Space Division, we thank Mrs. Eliza Koch Bame for donating  cacti and succulent plants to Rice Canyon.

Variegated Candelabra Tree
Candelabra Tree (Euphorbia ingens)


Torch Cactus
Trichocereus hybrid

Eliza,  your donation of these beautiful plants is greatly appreciated and important to our success with the Rice Canyon Cactus and Succulent Garden.  With your generous giving, the Demonstration Garden looks more beautiful than ever.

Barrel Cactus native to east-central Mexico
Golden Barrel Cactus in Rice Canyon Desert Garden

The City of Chula Vista’s Open Space Division could not do what it does without the support of a generous and caring community.

Thank you again for you support.

Hairy Old Man Cactus
Old Man Cactus, tall and columnar species.
red-pinkish tubular flower from old man cactus
Flowering Old Man Cactus
(Cephalocereus senilis)

Low Water Use Trees and Shrubs

Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.10Palo-VerdeCercidium x ‘Desert Museum’

This gorgeous, thornless hybrid Palo Verde makes a fine, upright shade tree. The yellow blossoms give it a dazzling display of color. ‘Desert Museum’ grows to be about 15′ – 30′ in height and width, but can be pruned to be kept smaller. Cercidium loves full sun and is impervious to heat; it can take the wind and adapts to poor soil conditions. This tree can be affected by powdery mildew if planted near the coast; it’s much better suited for the warmth and dry inland areas. Once established it only needs occasional watering.

This hybrid Palo Verde has its origin in three parent trees: Parkinsonia microphyllum, Parkinsonia floribundum, and Parkinsonia aculeate.

Tecoma x ‘Sunrise’ ™

Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.11Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.12This heavy blooming shrub can stand up to the worst heat of the low deserts and the humidity of the tropics, it’s well suited for xeric landscapes, but also responds well to moisture and fertilization in the summer. Its only limitation is sensitivity to the cold.

These flowers have a burnt orange throat accenting the inside of the flower. Each flower bud has a burnished copper color on it, and also on the back of each bloom; it’s best used in oasis and transition landscape design settings, moderately attracts hummingbirds.

Cactus vs. Succulents

What’s the difference between a cactus and a succulent?

Well, there are two answers:

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First of all cactus are native to North and South America, while Succulents grow everywhere.  Second, there is a difference in the way the thorns of the plant are attached.  Cacti thorns emerge from a pad while Succulents thorns are an extension of the body of the plant.

2014-06-26 08.32.33Most succulents can only tolerate temperatures down to around 50 degrees F, but many cacti can only tolerate temperatures down to the 40s. The biggest mistake that I’ve experienced growing cacti and succulents is forgetting that they are plant and therefore have similar requirements to other plants, which is: water, food, air and light.  Cacti and succulents are adapted to fairly extreme conditions but cannot thrive no matter where they are grown, without these vital elements.

2014-06-26 08.34.15No succulent or cacti grow in a true desert setting compromised of only sand and no rainfall.  Most grow in what is usually described as a semi-desert. Most cacti and succulents grow where semi rainfall occurs for a limited number of months out of the year.

Many features of cacti and succulents are adapted to absorb and store water from rainfall when it’s present; so in turn plants can survive throughout the dry season.  These features include a ribbed stem structure to allow for expansion and contraction and a widespread root system for for rapid uptake of water.


Chula Vista Open Space