One nice thing about traveling is that it allows you to taste food you might not normally have at home. But traveling also exposes you to unfamiliar flora. And having put my own East Coast garden to bed for winter, I was delighted to make the acquaintance of some gorgeous succulents in Southern California during the holidays. Succulents — which include aloe and agave, and even the euphorbia I grow in my own garden — have thick, fleshy stems and leaves and retain water even under the most trying conditions. They are ideal desert plants — and coastal plants, too, since they tolerate relatively high levels of salt and minerals.
I was not familiar with aeoniums, but their beauty made me stop in my tracks as we wandered through Old Town, San Diego. The photographs below were taken just after a rainfall and they show yet another characteristic of many succulents: waterproof leaves.