Contents Volume 25. No 1
|Editorial and more||Trevor Wray|
|Agave victoriae-reginae - why we should all grow one||Tina Wardhaugh|
|Ernest Hepworth F.R.H.S.||Doug Rowland|
|A Visit to the Lüderitz Peninsula||Trevor Wray|
Cover picture: OK; it’s not a cactus and it’s not in flower but I like Tina’s Agave image. It is Agave victoriae-reginae ‘White', a variegated form of this popular species. Tina writes more for us on page 6.
EDITORIAL and more.....
to the Spring edition of your magazine.
have heard some of the wise men recommend sowing mesemb seeds on Christmas Day;
I was away at Christmas so it was not to be. Nothing should interrupt the eating
and drinking. On my return I started the task. In that kind of nothing time
between Christmas and New Year. Sowing a few dozen kinds of Lithops gave me a
chance to notice that there is quite a difference in seed sizes. Lithops
lesliei were big
enough to see easily and L.
amicorum were pretty small. This reflects a little the
size of the mature plants but the Cole’s have a lot more experience and
comment that there is little correlation between seed size and the adults. I
sowed several packets where I could see the tiny seeds clustered at the bottom
of the clear envelopes. How many seeds in the packets? Ten to twenty was my
guess. Then I went on to the brown paper ones. With these it looked as if it
might be impossible to actually find the seeds but I had forgotten that the
Mesemb Study Group seeds were folded into little tissue ‘pockets’. You
certainly need a steady hand. And don’t of course sneeze!
plants were in a cheap electric propagator in a cold greenhouse and to my
amazement most had shown some signs of germination within two weeks. I say ‘to
my amazement’ but I am always amazed when any seeds sown by me pop up.
Bolstered by my success I sowed a further few dozen, all mesembs but just a few
Lithops. There were loads of seeds, (which must be the smallest surely?), in the
Dinteranthus packets and loads of them germinated. Again the Lithops did well
but the others were a bit sporadic. I should point out that many of these
packets had been sitting around here for years. So I conclude that Lithops seeds
remain viable for years.
that seed should be sown evenly, (that is of course all sorts of seeds, not just
succulents). So exactly how steady was my hand with these small seeds? I could
see the evidence; some were perfect, little seedlings popped up uniformly across
the pot, and some were terrible. Watering the second trayfull I had a little
accident and the surface was inundated with a tsunami. Dozens of Dinteranthus
were in half the pot and I wouldn’t be surprised if some had actually jumped
out of the pots. I will have to look carefully at the developing seedlings.
forward to watching my little seedlings develop.
was in Lanzarote last Easter I was allowed time off from ‘grandparenting’ to
look for succulents. Not just the wild species in habitat but the cultivated
ones in gardens and urban landscaping. There are many very nice plants in the
middle of roundabouts!
interested to see in a garden what I thought was an attractive variegated form
of an Aeonium I had not seen before. I scrounged some cuttings and thought I
would have no problem rooting them on my return.
it happened we returned home via Wisley Gardens, (well you couldn’t drive
past, could you?). There in the Conservatory I saw the same plant. Not an
Aeonium as I thought but the label read Dracaena
reflexa ‘Song of
India’. Now that my interesting Aeonium was a Dracaena it was obviously going
to be more difficult to root so I popped the potted cuttings in a clear plastic
bag. I was right, only two of the three cuttings rooted; Aeoniums always have
looked up Dracaena in the Monocots volume of the IHSP. They are in their own
family with Sansevieria and Dracaena
was not listed so not a succulent species. I must remember to keep it watered.
An attractive plant for a garden in Lanzarote.
deepest dark of winter
was reading a newspaper article about an Essex nursery using LED lights to ripen
strawberries at the end of the season. This got me applying a bit of lateral
thinking, well it was the New Year.
this time of the year (January) in NN country it gets light at about 8am and
dark at 4pm and the days are even shorter in the north of Scotland. I have
tabulated the midwinter day length results from some cactus and succulent
habitats for comparison. (See below)
Grand Junction, Colorado
Mexico City, Mexico
Cape Town, South Africa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
was wondering how much effect the day length had on growing our sort of plants.
Obviously although our winters have shorter days than what we think of as
typical cactus and succulent country, our day length is longer in summer.
think the main disadvantage of our acceleration into short days lies with
Mesembs and members of the Crassula family. I grow quite a few of these. Many of
these make most of their growth and flower as it gets cooler, (and days get
shorter). By the time some of my Lithops flower there is too little sun for the
flowers to open. Would a bank of LED lights turned on for an hour or two in the
evening help? Would I ever see Lithops
optica rubra in
you hear reports of a deranged NN grower wandering around his greenhouse with a
torch every dark evening you will know you read it here!
good news is, that as I write this on January 3rd, I see the days are already
nine minutes longer than the shortest day. Roll on summer.
Winter of 2013 / 2014
Winter we all say? I don’t know about you but this winter has been almost
unbelievably mild. There have been just a few slight frosts but the thermometers
record that none penetrated the greenhouses, even the unheated one. I am not
sure that this is good news for the plants, mild weather means cloud so less
sunshine. I do know that there has been a massive saving in heating costs, (and
in the house as well.) Might be able to afford a decent holiday somewhere hot!
course there was a downside to the mildness. Rain. The wettest weather since
records began and flooding in many parts of the country. Nothing adverse here
but many garden
plants which normally cause no problems seem to have drowned. Oh well…
is this where we get ‘nipple cactus’ ?
the schedule for a London flower show I noticed...
the purposes of this show the following definitions will apply:
a succulent plant characterised by the presence of areolas: an
being a small cushion of woolly-felt or hair from which spines arise.
were a few other insights into succulents...
a plant which can be grown in a living room and which
attractive throughout the year. Succulents qualify, but plants, which die down
or lose their leaves, do not.
plants adapted in stem and leaves to conditions of drought,
with fleshy leaves and few breathing pores.
you can’t see what is wrong with these best consult the committee, (for an
even more confusing answer).
bit of fluff on the side
was putting up a new greenhouse for the FL the other day. Yes I know that’s
four in the garden but it’s a small greenhouse and a big bit of garden.
The FL insists on one of her own. Apparently I am too untidy to share a
greenhouse with. And she is going to padlock the door. (She says.)
have now erected seven aluminium greenhouses in my lifetime and it never gets
any easier. Each make has its own quirks. The new one has double doors (very
handy this) and these took as long as the rest of the assembly together.
Naturally once you have put both doors together the wrong way round the nuts and
bolts do not come apart easily or fit well after. The air was blue to put it
the point of this little story…? Owning a greenhouse, even a small one, adds a
whole dimension to growing plants. It’s a pity that no cactus or succulent
will cross the threshold of this one.
the bit of fluff? That’s the strips of furry stuff that go down the sides of
the doors. To keep the draughts out you understand.
on the Wiltshire Show
I reported on my visit to judge the Wiltshire Show last year. Looking back through the images I found this picture of Pediocactus knowltonii. When I first saw an amazing cluster of this species at the National Show held at Kidlington, (when the species was fairly new), I was amazed. The cognoscenti soon told me it was grafted. Dreams shattered.
this image is a plant I had to judge. With more experience I now know that
knowltonii is closely related to P.
simpsonii, perhaps, (they say), it is a dwarf mutation or a juvenile form of this.
simpsonii is the easiest Pediocactus to grow and even I
can cope with it. So the experts say P.
knowltonii is similar but I have never tried it on its own
roots. My grafted plant grows OK and flowers every year to remind me of a
windy hill in New Mexico. It has remained solitary.
What about that cluster at Wiltshire? Well it was a great plant. And was it grafted? I suspect perhaps some years back yes. Maybe, possibly, err… Still a plant I would like to have grown myself. How did I judge it? Shame to say I didn’t record any other exhibits from the class and I can’t remember the result. But I like to think I gave it a ‘First’ card.
dilemma when judging such plants arises when you see the graft junction. An
unbelievable plant, vigorous, evidence of flowering, clustering, you have the
vision, becomes more believable when you can see the Echinopsis that is
providing the roots and the vigour. Still I am a great believer in the
‘condition’ of the plant and unless the plant is just too wonderful; I might
just push the top dressing over the stock and give it a ‘first’ anyway.
generations ago families tended to stay local. Now a local, English acquaintance
of mine can look forward to the first Christmas for many years with her three
children. They are domiciled in Canada, New Zealand and Gloucester. A global
ago we were regaled by a few explorers who had visited Continental nurseries.
Now it seems many troop off every year to invest in the latest novelties,
habitat or specimen plants. So too, the Belgian ELK, (a general market in plants
from across Europe with talks in varied European languages), is a major factor
in the UK cactus calendar.
were really intrepid explorers who had been to the US, then to Mexico. Local
Doug Rowland brought us stories and pictures of huge cacti, both natural and
cultivated; also snakes to marvel at or scare. South Africa was visited by Tom
Jenkins and we were amazed by the spectacular desert views and especially the
colour and condition of the succulents he saw there and brought us in his
days we can hop on a plane and be whisked to these habitats. (Though I am not
sure our 30 hour flight to Argentina with two stops was exactly ‘whisked’.)
Car rental is a doddle, book your accommodation on-line, at a budget level to
suit, and cruise around the plants your friends have told you about. Maybe they
have given you a GPS location so you can find the actual plant. Easy-peezy.
can take a guided tour; many are arranged to some quite exotic places. All you
need is money; but on the plus side you get a lot of species for your dosh.
succulents of the world are now truly in a global village.