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I love giving gifts to gardeners. They can be so easy to please, as long as you know a little about their style. Miniature roses for the cactus lover would be a miss (but the cactus called miniature desert rose could do the trick). But when you’re talking about people who are happy playing in the dirt, you get to skip the mall, and never even change out of your muck boots if you don’t want.

One of my favorite presents I ever received was a piece of bark. Let me explain.

magnolia seed pods

bark tray with rocks

When the 18″ strip of curved bark first arrived (5?) years ago, it was a miniature succulent garden, with 2″ nursery pots of Haworthia, Stapelia, and Lithops.

The orange plastic pots were completely disguised, nestled in among Spanish moss, topped with twigs, Tillandsias and sparkly baubles. You’ll have to use your imagination, because the originals have moved on to the compost bin, thanks to my limited houseplant nurturing qualities. Fortunately the structure lends itself to swapping out and rearranging. Picture little succulent gems like these:


Clockwise from top left above
1. Stapelia scitula from Kara Cactus
2. Haworthia atenuata by Ryan Somma
3. Lithops herrei by Stan Shebs
4. Haworthia truncata by The Ruth Bancroft Garden
5. Huernia insigniflora by Almost Eden
6. Haworthia attenuata by Claire H.

Many Tillandsias have come and gone as well, but I enjoy shopping for new ones when I lose one. There always seems to be some new (to me) variety to love. We had an embarrassment of Tillandsia riches on our Little Prince of Oregon field trip in the spring, where I stocked up.

Tillandsia tricolor var. melanocrater
tillandsia ... melanocrafter

Tillandsia albertiana
tillandsia albertiana

Tillandsia brachycaulos green
tillandsia brachycavlos green

Tillandsia butzii
tillandsia butzii

Tillandsia flabellata
tillandsia flabellata

The bark strip has evolved over time. Sometimes more planter, other times a display case for natural odds and ends that strike my fancy.

When the resurrection fern is in a dry phase, it lends its sculptural qualities to the collection.
resurrection fern

The other thing I love about the bark planter is that it allows you to indulge in your hoarder collector tendencies. Trips to the park are simply more fun when you’re on the lookout for a beautiful rock or lichen covered twig.

moss rocks and sticks

There’s a handy place to store the magnolia seedpods or perfect pinecones that mysteriously find their way into coat pockets (just me?).

magnolia seedpod and pinecone

There’s a way to bring home and admire the vibrant hues and varied textures of lichens that litter the ground after windstorms.

lichen and pinecones

And even a non-rose fan might appreciate the dried remains of a wedding bouquet.

dried roses

Sure improves the view when doing the dishes.

top view

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