The Cactus Patch
Volume 11       July 2008      Number 7

Canadian Origins
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

May was a relatively quiet month. On the 1st we drove up to Fresno for the monthly Cactus & Succulent meeting. I took the lovely Echinopsis which had bloomed for mother’s birthday on the 29th of April, but, although the flowers lasted until we reached Fresno, they folded by the time of the meeting. Fortunately I had a Gymnocalycium in flower as a backup.

On the 6th we went to Macaroni Grill for Anne’s birthday. We had no cake or candles, so Anne drew a three tiered affair on the paper tablecloth with the crayons provided. On the 13th the Echinopsis bloomed again, so I brought it to the Bakersfield C&SS meeting.

Michael arrived by train with his parents at midnight going into the 9th. At 19:30 we saw Anne off on the airport bus to visit her son Daniel in South Dakota. On the 10th we saw Horton Hears a Who. I love Dr. Seuss, but the movie was too long and Michael got bored. It would have been better with sing able tunes. Michael and parents left again on the 11th.

The Fresno Club had a show and sale on the 17th & 18th. There were lots of sale plants with gorgeous blooms. The exhibit was small but excellent and there was a whole table of raffle items.

The May-June Cactus & Succulent Journal (U.S.) arrived on the 24th. The cover is a magnificent display of variation in flowers in a population of Adenium oleifolia at Upington in South Africa. I had published two flower forms in the SW corner of Botswana in the Dec. 2005 issue of Asklepios, but I see a full house beats a deuce!

The 27th was my brother Robert’s birthday and we had a dinner at Alice’s house (with cake and candles). Finally we ended the month with a concert of Men in Blaque, a men’s choir directed by Joseph Huszti of UC Irvine. He had been choir director at BC when Polly and I were there so it was a nostalgic evening.

But back to last year:

On the 30th of July we went to Annapolis Royal which lies to the east of Smith’s Cove. This was originally a French colony known as Port Royal. From 1606 to 1607 it was the first French colony in the New World. It was re-established in 1610 and is the oldest continually occupied European settlement north of St. Augustine, Florida. Beginning in 1621 there was a back-and-forth contest by the British, and eventually in 1713 it became British and headed the Acadian area (which was renamed Nova Scotia ) as the town of Annapolis Royal.

We began at the Annapolis Royal Historic Botanic Garden. A large portion of this is reconstructed drained salt marsh as it would have been under the French. In wilder portions of the salt marsh there are small succulent Salicornia, Suaeda and Plantago plants. There is also a Maison Acadienne. Among the many displays, we once again found Cardoon. There is also an Alpine section which has a few succulents: Tradescantias, orpines and a spurge. We had a lovely sausage soup at the German bakery next to the garden. We toured the antique shops which occupy many of the old buildings in town and then slogged out to the Tidal Generating Station. This uses the steep tides of the Bay of Fundy (the steepest change in North America, although Anne says Alaska claims the title) to generate power. It is the only station of this kind in the New World. Afterwards we had a late lunch back in town at Anne’s Restaurant and looked at Fort Anne.

The next day we went south from Smith’s Cove to Bear River. Here we had lunch at the Changing Tides Diner which is on stilts over the river. We also checked out a number of art and craft shops there. We then proceeded further inland to the Bear River First Nation Heritage & Cultural Centre where we met the Mi’kmaq who had preceded the French. It was a good exhibit of their culture including a panel of medicinal plants.

At the garden in Annapolis I had bought a copy of Weeds of the Woods (Glen Blowin, 2004, Nimbus Pub., Halifax). Unfortunately these “weeds” are all woody and do not include succulents. It does contain good information on medicinal uses. For example among the many uses of Witch Hazel it says, “It is reported that the Micmacs [Mi’kmaq] of Nova Scotia steeped witch hazel twigs, soaked the liquid in a cloth and inhaled the fumes, apparently as an aphrodisiac and, coincidentally, to relieve headache.“ Andrena had this book as well as Noxious Weeds of Nova Scotia (Dept. of Agric. & Marketing ) which I later bought in Winnipeg. This latter has the more usual herbaceous weeds and has line drawings which are good for identification. Again, there are no succulents, but there are garden spurges (Euphorbia cyparissias and E. helioscopa ) which I did see at Smith’s Cove.

Polly & Cardoon

Tidal Generating Station at the Bay of Fundy

Bear River

Bruce and Mi'kmaq canoe

PREVIOUS LETTER               Bruce's Letters               NEXT LETTER