The Cactus Patch
September 2015

Rancho Los Alamitos
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 30th of July, Woody phoned and asked if I would be willing to talk to the Long Beach Club as Rob Skillin, the scheduled speaker, was off to South Africa.  I agreed and so Polly, John and I set off on the 2nd of August.  We reached the area about 11 and had lunch at the Fantastic Café which is right next to CSULB.  It was a good thing we got there early.  By the time we had ordered there was a line out the door. 

At noon we went to nearby Bixby Hill which is a gated community.  They do allow visitors to the historic Rancho Los Alamitos where the Long Beach Club now meets, but it stresses on the permit that visitors are not allowed to park or visit elsewhere on the hill. (In the past the Long Beach Club met at a historic Adobe which is a little more accessible.)

The Rancho Los Alamitos, which dates back to 1800 in the days before the U.S. took over California, is surrounded by a succulent garden with plants that look to be about as old as the buildings!  (The Adobe where the Club met before had a nice, but rather young, garden.) Along the drive there is a hedge of huge Aloe arborescens.  There is also a patch of naked ladies with three foot high bulbs sticking up.  There are cacti and Euphorbias of great size and enormous Figs hung with the largest staghorn ferns I have ever seen. (Bigger than wild ones I saw in Mozambique.)

The meeting started at 1:30 and I presented my talk on the cucumber family in Botswana.  This was followed by Polly’s talk on our family in Botswana.  John ran the computer setup.  Afterwards I was asked to judge the mini show that they always have. This month it was Bromeliads for the succulents and Copiopoas for the cacti (which are also succulent). It was easy as there were some really good plants which were well potted.

After the meeting the president Gary Duke took us to his nearby home where we toured his collection.  He has a couple of fascinating plants of Leuchtenbergia principis which had numerous off sets on the stem.  He also had a crested Orbea variegata which had a number of flowers. After the tour we went out the back gate to dinner at Johnny Rebs. (Gary says he has no problem with diners blocking his gate.) His mother, Bernice, aged 96, ate with us.

On the 6th Polly and I went to Fresno and heard Elton Roberts talk on cacti.  We had heard him before when he spoke on Micropuntias, but this time there was no organized theme- just a lot of beautiful flowering cacti.  It would have been better to have a field trip up to his nursery in Ripon.  Both times he expressed an exaggerated sense of splitting and continually put down lumpers.

Of course we were at the Old Hacienda on the 11th.  The food was good and the conversation lively.  I hope everyone else was satisfied.

Bruce's talk at the Long Beach Club

Giant Ficus

Polly's talk at the Long Beach Club

Elton Roberts

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