The Cactus Patch
Volume 12       May 2009      Number 5

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Yes, we did get to the convention in Tucson, and we’ll write all about it over the next few months. But first, some notes on happenings before that. On the 20th of March our older son John drove down from Sacramento. We then intended to go to the Barstow area for a caving meet. (I was surprised to learn there are caves there!) We got as far as Mojave before John’s car broke down. The transmission was shot and we were towed ignominiously back to Bakersfield. The hills around Tehachapi were pink. I presume this was from storksbills, but we couldn’t stop to check. Luckily our AAA coverage was enough to get that far. But we never got to the meeting of spelunkers. John got the car fixed and went back to Sacramento on Wednesday.

dOn the 28th Anne & I went with the Audubon Society to see Wind Wolves Preserve. We saw orioles (including a nest) and a pair of golden eagles. We were told the female eagle has a nest on one side of the canyon and the male a nest on the other. We were led on a long hike by Sheryl Klenenen who told us about the wild flowers as well as the birds. She pulled up a plant of popcorn and smeared her fingers red to show the dye in the roots. There were huge bush lupines, but the display by Arvin was better overall. After we got back to the information booth, I asked about the Bakersfield cactus and was told to look among plantings at “The Crossing”. I said I’d been there and the plant was the common beaver tail. A phone call then led to the information that the area where they were was inaccessible to the public. (Never mind that one fellow in our group had seen it the previous week!)

On the 2nd of April we drove up to Fresno for a talk by Nick Wilkinson of Grow Nursery on his recent trip to Baja. He had good pictures and the plants were well labeled. (Unfortunately, the rocks and paintings were less well identified.) He had lots of beautiful plants for sale. It is spring, and the brag table was so full a second table had to be added. (Let’s see if we can do better in Bakersfield.)

Two days later Polly & I went back to Fresno for a garden tour. We started at the Ceronsky house where there were a couple of bearded dragons among the cacti. Next we went to the Kliss glass factory. The main feature was blown glass in the form of plants, but there were ceramics, paintings and metal sculptures as well. A long time was taken in a lecture about pots and soils for succulents. We then drove down to the Thomas house in Hanford for some interesting displays (including Francis of Assisi with cactus hair). Finally we ended on the banks of the Kings River at Mark Muradian’s place. His cacti are huge and produced spectacular flowers.

Hey! How about those Tar Heels! I’m not usually interested in basketball, but I earned an MSPH from UNC and my brother has one from Michigan State. Of course, the right team won.

The depression is having some effect. Our bank was bought out, our exercise place has been bought out and Gottschalks (which is visible from the window where we exercise) is out of business. The worst effect is on Botswana where they have closed all the diamond mines (two permanently) because there is no market for them. This explains why the new University branch which was supposed to open this year has not even begun construction. I guess we’ll be in Bakersfield awhile yet.

Our grand ulendo (safari) to Arizona began on the 10th of April. We left after lunch because Anne insisted on replacing the “door” on her gas tank which she had accidently snapped off. The valley was already dry, but about Caliente things greened up. There lupin, brodea, popcorn and fiddlenecks blooming near Tehachapi. East of there were goldfields and desert bladderpods. East of Mojave the roadsides were full of tidytips and a few globe mallows. In San Bernardino County there were phacelias. We stopped for refreshments at Kramer Junction. South of that there were purple/white daisies and yellow Coreopsis. (The Coreopsis followed us through Arizona.) We stayed the night in Indio.

Next month I shall tell about the first day of the CSSA conference.


Red Dye

St. Francis

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