The Cactus Patch
April 2016

FLOWERS – Wild and Tame
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Back in December 2014 when we had a memorial service for my mother, my sister Lora ordered five flowers, one for each child.  Mine, of course, was a Christmas cactus. Unfortunately, it arrived with buds that would not be open in time. I bought a bromeliad and both plants were used.  The Christmas cactus dropped its buds.  Finally this February it bloomed.  It turns out there are two different plants in the pot – one with pink flowers and the other red!

On the 18th of February I spoke at the senior lunch at the United Methodist Church on Stockdale. I concentrated on Botswana, but did show some plants from Malawi and Lesotho as well. Just as I reached the last slide, I was told to speed it up.  I think I tried to include too much, a bad habit I have criticized in other speakers.

On the 21st we joined members of the BCSS at the Kelleys’ for a drive to see wildflowers.  Bear Mountain Road was loaded with poppies, lupines, fiddlenecks and popcorn.  There were small numbers of other flowers.  We stopped at the National cemetery which I had been by but never visited.  In addition, Jack Kelley pointed out Hang Glider Hill where they used to launch gliders.  From there we went along Bena Road and stopped at a steep slope topped by a band of river rocks.  Here there were bladder pod and chia flowers as well as lupines and poppies.  It has been a good year for flowers. The Californian had pictures of Kern Canyon and Death Valley in bloom as well.

On the 28thth our family went out to the Pixley Wildlife Reserve to join an Audubon Society visit there to see the sandhill cranes.  We did not see as many this time- there were more mudhens (aka coots).  It was dark by the time we went to leave and Anne fell in a rabbit hole hidden by grass.  She managed to break her foot and is now in a wheelchair!  Fortunately we got a ride back to our van with the wildlife officer who led the trip.

On the 3rd of March Polly and I went to Fresno and heard Jeff Moore talk on succulents he has seen.  He also sold copies of a book he has written showing the same thing.  It is a rather miscellaneous collection of oddities and the colors are rather unreal.  We will see him in Bakersfield later in the year so you can judge for yourselves.  On the way back we went through Porterville hoping to see more wildflowers, but it was mostly just fields of mustard with some radishes.

On the 8th, of course, we heard Woody speak on a trip to northern Mexico.  The plants were well presented and interesting, but his story of being met with armed men in black vehicles was quite frightening.  I am well traveled and have had many adventures, but I don’t think I could have remained so cool under the circumstances.

On the 17th we heard Denis Kearns speak on Irish plants at the California Native Plant Society meeting.  It was interesting to see plants that we had seen in Cornwall as well as some quite different ones.  We were taught quite a lot about peat bogs, although I was familiar with them, having been born and raised in Stockton which has plenty of peat and uses it to grow asparagus. 

(One difference, of course, is there are no “bog people” found in a preserved state in California. Also, Californians try not to burn peat.  I grew up seeing signs saying “Danger. Peat Dirt will Burn.”)

On the 18th we went to the Sol Y Luna Restaurant for a celebration of the retirement of Yolanda Avalos, the leader of our Silver Sneakers exercise group.  Fortunately she is not retiring from leading us.  She is retiring from the Plaza Jewelers where she has worked since 1974.  The whole restaurant was filled with family and friends.  It was a very moving evening.

Christmas Cactus

Maynard, Sidney and Stephen on Bear Mt Road Field Trip

Sandhill Cranes

Jeff Moore at Fresno

Denis Kearns at CNPS

Yolanda Avalos retirement

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