The Cactus Patch
August 2015

CSSA National Convention 2015
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On Monday the 15th of June, Polly and I drove down to her sister Ginny’s place in Joshua Tree. We had lunch at the Roadside Diner at Kramer’s Junction on the way. Desert landscaping is nothing new in Joshua Tree. Out front there were nothing but cacti and other desert plants with decorative rocks. I took a branch of a pencil cactus from the garden (with permissionsee brag table).

Next morning we drove down (literally) to Claremont and arrived at Pitzer College in time for the third day of the CSSA convention. Although they have done their best to keep prices low, we could not afford more than one day. I chose this day because Dr. Heidi Hartman and Andry Petignat were listed as speakers. Unfortunately Heidi, a friend of ours and an expert on mesembs, was unable to attend. Andry, however, gave a terrific talk on baobabs – similar to mine, but much better. We had not met Andry previously, but we did meet his father Hermon at the Arboretum d’Antsokay in Toliara, Madagascar in 1996. We were glad to learn that Andry is carrying on the Arboretum. Incidentally, there were recordings made of the various talks and these should be available for use by local clubs. I highly recommend that we get one of Andry’s talks.

Other talks that day included “Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis: a new cholla from Riverside and Imperial Counties” by Michelle Cloud-Hughes (terrific); “A Namibian showcase” by Dr. Tim Harvey (so-so); “A Mexico Adventure” by Greg Star (OK); “Spectacular Mesembs” by Steven Hammer (sorry Steve, too many cultivars); ”Lithops: the wild and the Tame” by Doug Hawson (more to my liking with lots of field work); and “Succulent plant discoveries in East Africa-past, present and future” by Prof. Len Newton [on left] (another I would recommend for our own club).

On our way to lunch (just OK) we got to see many of the large succulents from around the world which have been planted at Pitzer. Really impressive! There were also plants for sale (with Woody in charge) and, of course, books on succulents (with Chuck Iverson in charge). I was surprised to find a copy of “Wild Flowers of South Eastern Botswana” by Gwithie Kirby, a good friend of ours. It has good color pictures and includes some succulents.

We met a number of old friends including a good contingent from Fresno and Ernst van Jaarsveld from South Africa. Dinner that evening was “on your own” and afterward there was an auction we couldn’t afford, so we had dinner at Mr. D’s diner in Laverne where we watched the US women’s football (aka soccer) team defeat Nigeria 1 to 0. We were home in Bakersfield by 9:15.

We watched several other football matches both out and at home, but the last was the best! On the 5th of July we had lunch at the Firehouse which has a very large screen. The place was packed with people in red, white and blue. Usually the games are slow starting and end with few goals. In this one the US started off with three goals but allowed Japan to score one. After the halftime break both teams scored again and the final score was 5 to 2. It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever seen. At least the American women have learned to play proper football (although they still call it soccer).

On the 14th we learned about mixing soil for succulents. It was a good demonstration, but, like a similar one in Fresno, it would have been better outdoors. Also, I am a bit leery of generalizations. There are succulents which don’t require desert conditions and need a different soil.

Andry Petignat

Prof. Len Newton

Pitzer College

Chuck Everson

Woody Minnich

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