Saturday, March 21, 2009

Faux flowering cacti

When I was a kid I used to buy mini cacti from a woman at the San Angel market, in Mexico City. It took me a while to figure out why every single cactus I bought from her died after a few days. Hers were not grafted, potted living things. She took bits and pieces of cactus and other plants and held them together with toothpicks. At the time I was outraged when I discovered this, but now I've come to appreciate her creativity and her whimsical "Frankenstein" creations. This humble Mexican woman was not a gardener, she was an "eco sculptor" and inspired this flower arrangement! I think it would make a cool center piece for a Mexican themed party. To make something similar you'll need the following materials:
  • Clay pots
  • One or two "nopal" paddles per clay pot
  • A bouquet of small seasonal flowers
  • Acrylic paint
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • Plasticine or modeling clay
  • Decorative gravel or pebbles
Start by decorating the pots with acrylic paint. Place a square of modeling clay inside the pot and stick a skewer in it. Fill the rest of the pot with decorative gravel to give it weight. Using gloves, stick the nopales in the skewers so they stand upright. Play around with your arrangement's composition; you can cut the paddle in half, lean it to the side or even place two paddles in the same pot.

The final step is to stick the flowers to the top of the cactus using the toothpicks. Do it just before your party, since the flowers won't last long in that state. Note: I recommend not using real potted cacti for this project. Instead use "nopales", cultivated edible cactus sold in Mexican markets. If you have any leftovers you can always make a salad with them!

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