The Cactus Patch
Volume 15       June 2012      Number 06

Alice is 95!
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Back on the 10th of April we celebrated Alice’s 95th birthday at the BCSS (also mine of 25 years younger.) Polly brought a chess patterned cake to represent Alice through the Looking Glass.

On the 14th we toured Cecily K’s garden- an eclectic mix of “normal” plants and succulents (mostly crassula relatives). The use of fountains and pots was quite striking.

On the 15th the family went to Red Lobster to celebrate my birthday and on the 18th (my actual birthday) we went to Denny’s for breakfast. At Goldenaires (Sr. choir) we had a cake (actually for the accompanist who was leaving).Later Polly & I went to Lengthwise. (Actually, I wanted to avoid a birthday, but I’m informed I got old no matter what.)

On the 19th Polly and I went to an “antiques roadshow” at Rosewood. Our objects were declared worth what we had paid. Other people had more valuable items. The most interesting were items with little cash value, but a great deal of historic value. It was stressed that the stories behind these should be written down.

On Alice’s actual birthday (the 29th) we found a flock of pink flamingos on the front lawn. This was followed by a breakfast at flamingos on the front lawn. This was followed by a breakfast at Denny’s (free on your birthday!). Alice went to church and the whole congregation sang Happy Birthday. Lunch and presents at Lora’s followed.

Anne left on the 21st for a cruise through the Panama Canal. (Polly and I had visited my Uncle George there back in 1969 on our way back from the Peace Corps. We saw the canal by train, however.) On 6th May Anne celebrated her birthday at Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja. She returned to Bakersfield on the 8th just in time for the BCSS meeting. (She hadn’t even been home yet!) We had a party for her at Lora’s on the 13 (also Mothers’ Day).

Also on the 21st we dropped in on the Garden Fest at BC. Those cardboard cacti managed to make another appearance. Too bad the weather was beastly hot. It sure has been a roller coaster this year.

On the 2nd of May Alice and Lora went to Santa Anna for a Calkins Clan reunion. (Alice’s maiden name was Caulkins, the western spelling.) We now know three more generations back to the 1500s in England/Wales. We also learned that she is a tenth cousin of Mitt Romney. (This is not an endorsement.)

They returned on the 4th and on the 5th Lora and Angela were at the relay for life. They made sure one of the luminaria was for Karen.

We did not go to the Fresno CSS in May, but were at the BCSS meeting at which Nancy showed us how to show off our plants with fancy pots and arrangements. Sydney put on a display of drilling pots without holes. Nancy announced that my stinky stapelia won the wacky pot contest, but I wish there had been more competition.

On the 11th and 12th we went to the BCSS yard sale. As usual there was a lot to choose from. I hope we made a bit of a profit to add to our usual “about $2000” on hand.

I borrowed a book, Succulent Plants of the World, 2011 by Fred Dortort (Timber Press, Portland) from the club library. I would encourage more people to use the library. Dortort is more inclusive than most, but still misses a lot (mostly the cacti -and yes, they are succulents). A few minor ones such as Tinospora, a succulent Africa vine, are missing as well. One noticeable change is in the Portulaca family. Dortort joins those who split it into five families as follows:

Anacamseros and Avonia


Portulacarea, Ceraria, Didieria and Alluaudia

Montia, Cistanthe, Lewisia, and Phemeranthus


As a lumper, I would rather see these as subfamilies. Two much splitting makes too many families to learn. Dortort calls the last two families new world and the others old world, but there are plenty of Portulacas in Africa.

Flamingo Infestation

Garden Fest

Nancy at BCSS meeting

Stinky stapelia (Stapelia hirsuta)

PREVIOUS LETTER               Bruce's Letters               NEXT LETTER