Contents Volume 23. No 3
|Editorial and more..||Trevor Wray|
Strange One at the Show
usually like to feature flowers on the cover but needs must. It had to
be a National Show image and there were no flowers worth showing. Wrong
time of year - for flowers. Instead we have one of Stirling Baker’s
Haworthias, a little jewel. Haworthia
is from Oudtshoorn, RSA and is these days considered to be part of the
variable and widespread H.
Well grown Stirling.
EDITORIAL and more.....
to this edition of our magazine. The dust has settled after the National Show.
Several of our members were kept very busy on the day with official duties, (I
hear Barry didn’t get time to even look round). Several entered the Show and
won some prizes for their efforts. Great!
in all it was a great day and I have featured it in this edition.
‘Explorers 2012’ was populated by the usual cactus specific deep-thinkers.
Also many experts in specific cactus fields. Many of these had visited many
cactus habitats. Many of us have not, so we especially enjoyed the opportunity
to see plants we are unlikely to see in habitat. There were many entertaining
talks that informed and stimulated my interest.
had to select one talk that especially had me sitting on the edge of my seat it
was Ralf Hillman’s talk on Patagonia. Here we had vistas of Tierra del Fuego,
a stark glacial landscape with mountains, islands, penguins and the odd pangolin
surrounded by nearly nothing. Until you look on the right hillside where the
cactus genera Austrocactus, Pterocactus and Maihuenia grow. Along with pretty
is an intriguing genus we rarely see in habitat pictures. (Though there was an
article in the BCSS journal a while ago.) Britton and Rose classified them with
Echinocereus and they certainly superficially resemble this genus in body and
flower shape. The Explorers’ experts tell me they belong with Corryocactus and
Erdisia. For show purposes, Austrocactus is in the Neoporteria Group (and
Corryocactus and Erdisia the Cleistocactus Subgroup). Make of that what you like
but you do not see many of any of
these on the show bench.
I visited branch member Steve’s wonderful
collection of Echeverias this September. Steve grows his plants outside on
racking during the milder months with no overhead shelter from rain.
Despite one of the, (or even the),
rainiest summers ever, they looked really good. Growing well, bursting
with health and developing really intense colouration. They are taken into
a heated greenhouse for winter, a mammoth task I would think.
When I first started in the hobby my entire (but
small) collection was housed in a cold frame. Again they were watered by
rain as and when and by me as necessary. My plants also suffered the occasional
frost but they were sheltered from the worst of the winter weather because
I took them into the house. Much to the disgust of my wife.
I still grow succulents outside from Spring until Autumn. They are the larger growing Sedums, a few Echeverias and the more ornamental Aeoniums. Like Steve, I believe they grow better there and they are a lot less trouble. I just have to remember to bring them to shelter before the first hard frosts.
Steve's collection of Echeverias grown outside, but given winter greenhouse protection.
You might remember I reported buying 80 –odd match-head size seedling Turbinicarpus at the Birmingham Show last year. I used many of them as a minor experiment, pricking them out in nines into different composts. Soil/grit and soil/ peat/grit. Some of these were watered immediately, some after a few days, as the books recommend. All prospered and not much difference between the pots which goes to prove something. (But I am not sure what!) Leftover seedlings were also potted nine to a pot and handsomely recouped the initial investment. I didn’t bother labelling the pots on the basis that only people who recognised the species would be interested in nine of them. The problem is what to do with the 36 I kept when they start to crowd the pots. Oh, by the way, they were all kept in a cold greenhouse this last winter. It was COLD!
also reported an outbreak of western flower thrips on my mesembs. I had a square
foot or two of especially affected plants but seemed to have controlled the
problem. Until this year…
plants lost vigour and turned a dull grey before being pronounced dead. Some
were quite nice plants, show plants of some age. However the symptoms did not
thought long and hard on this one. My conclusions have not been supported by any
real evidence. I decided that I had picked up a spray can of Tumbleweed or
systemic herbicide instead of Provado, (systemic insecticide). (The packs I have
here are both bright yellow.) A rather fine Japanese tuberculate form of
Faucaria which had been adversely affected by WFT was at the centre of the
demise. Did I give this a burst of insecticide (or actually herbicide) just for
am not sure. I do know that as I threw out the dead plants, new seedlings and
purchases quickly filled the spaces. And as for the tuberculate Faucaria? Well
it is still there; maybe dying slowly, certainly an offset does not look healthy
and is not rooting, but I will remember to look carefully at the packet in the
always find the onset of winter a bit depressing. You know, the plants are
(mostly) going dormant and require little attention. I can continue some gentle
succulent research and watch all those recorded TV programmes. It is also a good
time to head south for a holiday. Even Spain can be a lot sunnier and warmer
than the UK in midwinter.
has lined up some great speakers Julian Cooke on greenhouse Automation (and
his plants he assures me!) and Alice Vanden Bon on South Africa. Should be a
have had a sneak preview of next year’s programme with some of the Ed’s
favourite speakers. Something to look forward to!
Enjoy the mag. Oh, and Happy Christmas!