The Cactus Patch
March 2016

Mountain Memories
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

We did not go to Fresno in February.  Instead we went south to the meeting of the Sunset Succulent Society at Marina del Rey to hear Tom Glavich speak on the High Drakensbergs of Lesotho and South Africa. We lived in Lesotho for 6 ½ years while I taught at the National University there.  I had never heard anyone speak on Lesotho except myself, so I was curious to hear another viewpoint.  Incidentally, I told Tom I was glad he referred to the “high” Drakensbergs as South Africa refers to the whole escarpment as “Drakensberg”. ( I ran into this problem when I wanted to name a new Crassula species after the highest range since it was only found at 10,000 feet. I first looked at “Malothi” which is Sesotho for “mountain range”, but rejected it as it refers to lower ranges as well. I rejected “Drakensberg” for the same reason. Finally I chose the name “Qoatlhamba” or “barrier of spears” as this refers only to the high range.  Unfortunately this gave the new species the name “Crassula qoatlhambensis” which many people find unpronounceable since the “q” is a difficult palatal click.)

Polly finished the newsletter by the afternoon of the 2nd of February and so we set off for the south.  It started to drizzle at the Grapevine and by the top it was slushy.  I began to wonder whether we had made a wise decision, but it soon cleared and the weather was good the rest of the trip. (In fact in L.A. they were complaining that they had not seen any of the alleged El Nino storm.) We reached Marina del Mar by 6:30 despite the cross traffic from highway 10 and found a build it yourself burger place (The Counter) for supper. We were not sure where in the Chace County Park the meeting was, but when we arrived there were lots of other cars pulling in so we just followed them. (The only time I had been to the Sunset Club was in 1987 and they met in Santa Monica.  At that time I spoke to them on “Succulents in the Snow” – all about Lesotho!)

The first thing we noticed was a largish bird on the lawn outside. At first I thought it was a statue, but then it moved.  If anyone wants to look it up, it was a black-crowned night heron.  It seems to like that one spot because it was still there when we came out of the meeting!  It just ignored all the people trooping by.  It only got upset when I took a couple of flash pictures, but it just moved a short way and then came right back. 

The Sunset Club follows the format of a lot of clubs.  There were plants for sale and for free.  There were also give-away books and magazines.  One difference was the raffle.  Members are given a number as they come in and then they receive a plant if their number is drawn.  Guests such as ourselves are simply given a plant.  The “brag” plants are judged and a lot of time was spent on this. 

Tom’s talk was excellent.  He covered a lot of territory for a short visit and was there at the right time (southern spring- our fall) to catch the plants in bloom.  We were surprised by the number of different pineapple lilies and red hot pokers he found.  He did include Euphorbia clavarioides and the spiral aloe, but not in bloom.  Just the scenery of the mountains in spring brought back fond memories. The only thing needed was a few snow pictures – although he did show a ski resort that has been built on the South African side of the border.

The trip home was uneventful and we arrived at two minutes after midnight.

On the 7th we had an anti-super bowl party at Anne’s (play games during the big game and stop to watch the ads!). Of course we were at the Bakersfield meeting with its excellent talk on Baja islands.  It was amazing to see so many plants on “barren” islands! Actually we knew there were interesting plants there as we had looked at some through a telescope at Bahia de Los Angeles on the BCSS trip in 2000.  And on Valentine’s we had dinner at Lora’s- it’s her wedding anniversary!  That evening Polly and I saw Casablanca at the Fox.

Tom Glavich and Bruce

Sunset Club

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