Alternate Roots

Maggie DeAngelis thinks inside the box. Her business partner, Jeff Raddatz, makes the boxes.

“Jeff is my creative inspiration,” DeAngelis says. “Once I see the pieces he creates, I am able to visualize which plants and combinations will look good in them.”

Raddatz’ “pieces” are decorative boxes, which he builds using slats from old soda crates, reclaimed windows and doors, and other gems he finds at antique stores. DeAngelis plants cacti and locally occurring succulents inside the boxes, creating one-of-a-kind pieces of living art that are sprouting up throughout San Diego.

“We are promoting environmentalism,” says Raddatz, “combining local foliage with recycled woods.”

The duo’s company, Magpie Cacti, produces miniature table planters, hanging frames and vast living walls, incorporating low-maintenance plants that require water only about once a month.

Amanda D'Orazio, general manager of Cody’s La Jolla restaurant (a Magpie customer), says, “I was intrigued with how each box was individually handmade and each plant was delicately placed in its frame. The concept was so unique, I knew I had to have them at Cody’s.”

See Magpie Cacti creations at the Hillcrest Farmers Market (Sundays), the North Park Festival of the Arts (May 20) and online at

-Carina Calhoun