The Cactus Patch
Volume 14       August 2011      Number 08

Carmageddon and the Convention End
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 7th of July we were in Fresno for the annual FCSS potluck supper. There was an Adenium orgy as members brought their blooming plants and cross pollinated them. This has become an annual event. We also had a silent auction which included a couple of Scadoxis species (one of them giant!)

On the 12th we were there for the BCSS meeting- a beautiful outdoor setting; too bad it was too light to show slides. It was, however, a good opportunity for socializing.

On the 14th Polly & I headed south for another mini adventure – this time into the heart of Carmageddon! That evening I spoke on Baobabs at the San Gabriel CSS which meets at the LA Arboretum. They had dish gardens as their judged competition – I glad I wasn’t asked to judge them. Afterward we stayed at the Prickly Palace in Riverside.

On the 15th we toured Buck’s green houses and saw such oddities as a hybrid Euphorbia obesa X E. suzannae. There were lots of hummingbirds, especially on the aloes. We then headed to La Mirada. Unfortunately my nephew Leo was in Bakersfield, so we actually used some of the speaker’s fee for a hotel. That evening we saw a hilarious performance of “Fleetwood Macbeth”: Great music, a line of gorgeous witches (and one ugly one) and even some of the original story line.

In the morning we braved Carmageddon and drove over to 110 and up to the LA Museum of Natural History. The traffic was light and we got there early. Our tickets for the dinosaur opening were for 10:30 but they let us in for the first showing at 9 as the crowd was light! They had a live dinosaur to scare us –it was covered with very colorful fur! The rest of the exhibit consisted of fossils- mostly T. rex and cohorts. I told them I was disappointed not to see Lesothosaurus, but they said they didn’t have any from his time period. (Although Botswana has no known dinosaurs, I had a model of Lesothosaurus made for our hall of fossils. My excuse was the same layers which produced dinosaur remains in Lesotho underlie the sands of the Kgalagadi (aka Kalahari) of Botswana.)

That afternoon we continued thru LA on the 110 and met little traffic until we got to I-5 -so much for the gloomy forecasts. Next day we met with Leo and his family back in Bakersfield.

Recently we learned that our friend Lilian Turton died in Botswana at the age of 90. She was a retired chemistry lecturer at the University of Botswana and met us when she came to the National University of Lesotho as an external examiner. She suggested I apply for the position of head of Natural History in Botswana. That led to our 13 years there. Lilian had helped establish the National Herbarium in Botswana and co-authored a check list of plants in Botswana herbaria. She also worked with Polly in the Thrift Shop and quilt club there.

But back to the CSSA Convention in San Diego:

After two days of field trips, on the 28th of April we were back for more talks. Tom Knapik started the morning with a fantastic exposition of the geometry in spiral succulents. He ended with a video “Nature by Numbers” which generalizes to many non-succulents.

Next, Gideon Smith spoke on South African Aloes. He started with a slide labeled “The End”, predicting (rightly) that he would never get there! I had read his recent book, so even when he had to be cut off, I knew where he was going.

Karen Zimmerman & Kelly Griffin followed this by a talk on hybrid aloes, showing us the Madagascan parents that give us all the colorful varieties now being offered. They ended with a picture of a very colorful Madagascan Chameleon saying this is their goal for future offerings!

After lunch Matthew Opel showed us many jewels of the genus Conophytum –both wild and in cultivation. This was followed by Andrew Hankey who took us on a tour of Lithops localities in South Africa.

This was followed by Debra Lee Baldwin who spoke on container gardens. I almost skipped this as it is not my cup of tea, but she did have some rather striking displays (most of which would be considered not suitable for “professional” succulent shows). I liked them.

Todd Masilko took us on a tour of fat stemmed plants in Baja, S. Mexico, Namibia, Socotra etc.-a great show of weird stems.

That evening we went to a “lighthouse restaurant” with Anne. She will send something about this. There were young dragon trees from the Canaries in front.

After dinner there were group sessions that would have been interesting, but at $30 each they would have added too much to the convention cost.

On the 29th Julia Etter & Martin Kristen took us on a tour of rare Mexican Crassulaceae. This was followed by Tom Glavitch who showed us how messed up Gasterias have become through overbreeding.

The highlight (for me) was a tour of Angola by Andrew Hankey. This is the one country in southern Africa I haven’t been to and I was interested to see old (and new) friends. Hopefully I can get there someday.

At lunch we went to see the lighthouses at Cabrillo National Monument. After lunch Tom Knapik reported on how the succulent hobby is proceeding, including the difficulties imposed on shipping these days. This was followed by Gideon Smith with another unfinished talk, this time on S. African succulents. This time I had not bought the book, but I have enough other books to know he could have talked all week.

The talks ended with Todd Masilko taking us on a tour of succulents in Southern California. A good summery of what we missed on our personal tours.

The final event (for us) was the answers and winners on a succulent quiz given earlier. I had skipped this and Polly didn’t win. Oh well, we’ll have to get to the next convention on our own. We didn’t stay for the closing banquet.

Next month we shall head back to Bakersfield via Ridgecrest.

Gideon Smith

Karen Zimmerman & Kelly J. Griffin

Anne, Polly & Bruce at lighthouse dinner

Polly @ Cabrillo Lighthouse
Bruce's opinions are his and are not necessarily that of the BCSS

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