The Cactus Patch
Volume 12       April 2009      Number 4

Early Spring
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Apologies: Crassula qoatlambensis grows at 10,00 feet (or 300 meters), not 3,000 feet as stated last month.

On the 24th of Feb we went to IHOP for a free stack. This was in honor of “Pancake Day” (aka Mardi Gras and Shrove Tuesday). In England they have races with women flipping flapjacks as they run! IHOP managed the crowds well, but it was an unbalanced menu. (Anything other than pancakes cost money.)

On the 27th we went walking at the Park at Riverwalk. The park is too civilized, but we found some wildflowers nearby. There were semi-succulent red maids (some of which were white), a relative of portulacas. We also watched cormorants with wings spread out over the shallow pond. Were they throwing a shadow for fishing like some African herons?

On 1st March I opened up the paper to find an obituary for Miss “B” (Theodora Bartholomew) who had been drama coach at BHS when I was there. She started me out as baby Michael in Peter Pan because I was only 4’7” as a freshman. I went on to act in all 4 years as well as at BC and UCSB. Miss “B” died just a couple months short of her hundredth birthday. That afternoon we went to a production of “A Woman Called Truth” at the Bakersfield Community Play House. This narrated the life of Sojourner Truth, a black woman who fought for human rights. The narration was a bit dull, but the singing was great.

On the 5th we drove to Fresno via Porterville to look for wildflowers. There were some Phacelias and vetches, but other wise the display was dull. Coming back via 99 we noted that once again the roadside is planted with South African daisies and snapdragons. At Fresno we enjoyed the FCSS meeting which featured Joyce Quinn, a local member and trained biogeographer. She went to the Canaries for a conference and toured Morocco as well. It was an interesting talk as there was no overlap with our trip to the Canaries in 2002. Joyce has written a couple of books in a series on biomes (biologic regions), one of which covers deserts. Unfortunately it is very expensive ($65, Greenwood Press, The first Chapter defines deserts, the 2nd covers warm ones (Sonora, Sahara, Iran) the 3rd cold ones (Great Basin, Gobi) and the 4th west coast fog ones (Atacama, Namib). There are lists of typical plants and animals as well as drawings and photos.

On the 6th we visited the Clovis Botanic Garden. It is small but has plans for the future. The succulent collection was rather poor. There were beautiful trees in flower ranging from Australian wattles to California Ceanothus.

On the 10th we went to the BCSS meeting where Stephen Cooley showed us how to rescue old plants – by slicing them in half! Most of mine will be allowed to maintain their “character”. I did like the tip that cuttings should be marked to show which side is up.

On the 14th there was a walk at the Panorama Vista Preserve led by Andy Honig and Kelli Levinson of the Kern Audubon Society. The first birds were ring necked parakeets which were let loose in the 50s and have made themselves at home in Bakersfield. Among other birds were Anna hummingbirds and a pair of Kestrels. The wildflowers were not spectacular.

On the 16th an intrepid group from the BCSS had breakfast at Lorenes and then set off to the slopes of Bear Mountain west of Arvin. The hills were ablaze with the orange of poppies and fiddlenecks, the blue of lupins, the pink of owls clover and the white of popcorn. The only succulents were tiny crassulas growing with moss. We traveled up highway 223 past vetch, white and blue phacelia, yellow umbels, brodiaeas and storksbills. Near highway 58 we saw the start of the veterans cemetery where there were squirrels and turkey buzzards. As we passed under 58 on Bena road there were bladder pods and miners lettuce and nesting swallows by the hundreds. Finally we stopped at Sand Ridge. The Cacti were not in flower but one (which had very few thorns) had a lot of buds. The “Morman” tea was shedding pollen. We all ended at Rosemarys for ice cream etc.

We recently learned that our friend Daniel Healey has died at a young age. He and his wife Jenny ran Kalahari Quilts in Gaborone, Botswana. For more information contact and click on About Us. There are many beautiful designs shown, but I recommend Floral collection which has baobabs and aloes.

Joyce Quinn at the Fresno CSS

Clovis Botanic Garden


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