Now that the holidays are over, the kids helped switch the Nature shelf over from “Christmas” to “Late Winter”. With the change of the seasons, I bring out new objects and the children choose which ones to put up.
These little hand-carved camels were a gift from the girls’ preschool teacher, and we cherish them. They live in the tea cupboard with our best teacups, but George insisted we put them up on the nature shelf, along with a handmade cup his cousins gave to us last year. We weren’t quite sure how it matched the theme of the season, but there’s not arguing with a four year-old.
We try to include seasonal objects from nature, but in January, most things are dormant…So putting our Living Stones (which don’t receive water all winter long) seemed like an appropriate addition.
Most of our collection of South African succulents are of the genus Lithops, but two are Pleiospilos, including the one above. They start to look shriveled and a little worse for wear toward the end of winter, but they live in a climate where they receive less than 3 inches of rain per year.
The rest of the time, they are conserving water in their tiny fleshy leaves. Over-watering can kill them, because they lack stomata like other plants – they will drink and drink and drink water until they burst and die, so they only receive a small amount of water during certain phases of their life cycle. You can see from the Lithops above, why they are called “Living Stones”. Aren’t they fascinating?
Hal chose a squirrel jaw and a turtle jaw for the table. To him, they represented “the harshness of winter for wildlife”. I recently found a handmade pineneedle basket at the thrift stire, and it serves as a stand for his contribution.
If you’re interested in keeping Lithops as houseplants, you can order them from Living Stones Nursery in Arizona. Lithops can be fussy as houseplants, but once you learn about their soil needs and their life cycle (they have lovely flowers!) – and as long as you do not overwater them – they make fascinating plants to keep in your home.
What do you have up on your Nature Table or Nature Shelf in late winter? The kid and I always love to see what other families are gathering for their tables.