Contents Volume 22. No 3
|Editorial and more..||Trevor Wray|
|A Visit to 1, Rambury Drive||Trevor Wray|
|Haworthia gracilis var. tenera||Trevor Wray|
Cover picture: I much admired a plant labelled Micropuntia pulchella exhibited by John Betteley at the Oxford Show in 2006. When my path crossed this dwarf species in Nevada I brought back cuttings of several clones. Some rooted and some rotted, (the way they do), but the picture shows one of the successes. Some also grow caudexes. It is too early to tell with mine but the the flowers are very nice!
the image for a better one and more information.
EDITORIAL and more.....
to this issue of Northants News - the cactus one that is.
the Indian summer extended through September and October. Saved a packet on the
heating, oh, and in the greenhouse too. Another spin-off lies in the range of
succulents that flower in winter but never manage to open their flowers. Mammillaria
hope this keeps up. The editorial board here does not like cold, and neither
does the cat, she says.
horror at the Judges’ Course
and aspirant judges at the Judges’ Course were presented with a class for
cristate cacti to judge in the qualifying ‘test’. No problem, some (and I)
thought. A crest of Obregonia
had ‘first’ written all over it on the basis of condition, maturity,
presentation and rarity. What about freedom from pests and diseases? There are
three points (out of twenty) available there. Ah, now here was the problem.
the second half of the test there was an audible gasp and the words ‘mealy
bugs’ were heard over the studious (relative) silence. Turned out that an
exhibit, and in particular the cristate Obregonia had some mealy bugs on it.
I am choosing my words very carefully; those who noticed them claimed the plant
and those who hadn’t, claimed ‘a
Those of a pedantic nature would claim that any two mealy bugs moving would
constitute the plural ‘crawling
with mealy bugs’
and likewise two mealy bugs would be a ‘minor
BCSS Guide to Shows, which is the bible for cactus and succulent showing, says
that a minor infestation can be ignored after a small adjustment in the
assessment of the exhibit, but that with a major infestation the Show Secretary
should be approached to have the plant removed from the show table. (This is
before it infects other plants, though I am not sure that mealy bugs are that
controversy at the Judges’ Course was because potential judges might qualify
or not on the decision of the Show’s Committee but an infestation of pests
does have a relevance at ordinary shows. A combination of the car journey and
the warm humid show hall seems to wake the little bug…s up and they march up
from their nests at the base of the plant to be more visible on the stems.
the years I have had some mealy bug outbreaks and a major infestation on my
Rebutia group actually killed some plants, which was a surprise. Routine sprays
with Imidacloprid (Pravado) and other systemic insecticides work wonders and I
haven’t actually seen a mealy bug on my plants for some years. However I am
sure there is some neglected plant somewhere with an egg or two waiting to
hatch, crawl up the nearest show plant, and embarrass me.
that insecticides may adversely affect some plants and this seems to be
especially noticeable in the Crassula family. I put the rapid death of an
Aeonium down to a drench of Malathion; Pravado can cause loss of farina or the
waxy bloom on Echeverias and sometimes distortion of the rosettes. I take the
attitude that it is better to be sure the collection is free from bugs and if
affected the damage grows out in a month or two. However to treat valuable
plants it may be better just to water the compost.
am not, of course, talking of the remote areas of the United States or South
Africa I sometimes visit. Much nearer home; the nether regions of my greenhouse.
was manic and when I had some time to myself in October it was time to start the
big sort out. Badly wounded plants, especially large cacti, will never recover
and I made the trip to the green recycle bin several times. Then I plucked up
courage and started on the ‘wilderness’. I have increased all the staging
space to the maximum which greatly increases growing space. Payback is the
wilderness areas at the far back corners only reached by taking glass out or
shuffling the plants in front. I moved the plants in front.
I found rampant creeping Crassulas which had jumped pots. For some reason they
grow much better in the pot next door. Shame about the dead resident.
Adromischus plants self-set from leaves, Dudleyas self-sown from seeds, rare
Tylecodons springing from snapped twigs, (they are tougher than you think), this
was a wilderness full of surprises.
were ‘dormant’ plants there, some had not grown for years. Tipping them from
their pots some were sopping wet and rootless, some were dust dry. Even school
kids are taught that all plants need water to grow. Question is; why were the
wet pots and the dry ones side by side? However the symptoms were the same; no
labels snapped happily to fragments. I reassembled them on the kitchen table and
wrote some more. Some were unreadable. I will give you a tip; pencil on plastic
will still be readable after 10 years, even the best marker pens probably will
not. I will give you another tip; the ink often etches the plastic and if you
get the angle of the light just right you can still read the name.
of the plants had no label at all. There were two attractive Haworthias of the
retuse kind, the same species but neither pot had a label. I remembered that it
had come as a single head from Graham Charles who had broken up a large plant. I
grew a large plant, then broke it up and potted the heads. Now I had two large
plants but no name. I reached for my Bayer (‘Haworthia Revisited’, my
standard reference). Thumbing through the pictures reminded me the plant was Haworthia
More a prolifera
it was and thrives on neglect. Pity about the other Haworthias I like, they lose
their roots first, then their will to live.
‘lostalabelii’ was Senecio
I knew, but which variety? There are fivish but an hour with Rowley’s Senecio
book, the IHBSP Dicots volume and the internet still left me puzzled. I put it
down to cylindrica
this seemed to be the commonest in cultivation and an internet picture showed
the same blue leaves.
rampant creeping Crassula was C. ‘Justus Corderoy’ and I started a new plant
afresh. Best practise with these cushion plants is to keep repotting them so
there is a clear space round the rim. However unless you want a show plant, (and
‘Justus’ is hardly one), five inches is big enough for anyone.
resolved to never neglect the wilderness for so long in future. The strange
thing is that despite throwing away quite a few plants and repotting many into
the same or smaller pots the plants didn’t fit back into the same space they
had come from. Weird!
form from the postman said I could collect an undelivered parcel from the local
post office. With a bit of thought I remembered that I had ordered a book.
Burning rubber I shot off round the corner to collect it.
hands easily pulled the 'rip-cord' on the packaging, then utter frustration as
the inner plastic shrink-wrap defied my fingernails. Eventually the plastic gave
way when I resorted to scissors.
new Aloe book fell onto my lap. I took a great gulp from the heady aroma of
fresh printer's ink, I just love the smell of new books. Well, musty old books
are pretty good as well.
book purports to describe all the species of Aloe in the World and it seemed
pretty comprehensive with several pictures of each. It is organised like Smith's
'Aloes of South Africa' - Tree Aloes, Grass Aloes, Spotted Aloes etc, an
arbitrary way that works well. I did wonder why the species were not in
alphabetical order in their sections but this is a botanist's thing; one day our
Colin will explain it.
use of the book is to identify those species which will make good plants to
cultivate in our greenhouses. Many will be too big and some just too ugly. At
first glance a few pictures appeared to be upside down but reading the text
these species are procumbent in habitat and again not good subjects for culture.
I have often been quite scathing of grass Aloes, but was surprised to see that
in this section there were several desirable plants, or rather they have large
attractive flowers. Floppy grassy foliage is always going to be just that.
you think that this will be the last word on Aloes I am afraid that the
descriptions of new species don’t stop when the definitive book is printed.
However the chances are that you will find all the species you grow, and all you
might want to grow, in this tome. Well, at least for a while.
will it fit your bookcase? It is 22mm wide. Fat, but there must be room, you
could always send Pilbeam's Mammillaria book to the charity shop! Just joking,
is a bit of a Gordon Rowley special. Roland has penned us an account of Gordon's
90th and I was lucky enough to get an invite to ‘Cactusville’. Enjoy!