The Cactus Patch
December 2016

A Very Busy Month
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

The September-October issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) is a spectacular special on landscaping with succulents.  Among the many colorful articles is one on the landscaping for the CSSA convention at Pitzer College.  This was called a Joeyscape in honor of the organizer Joe Clemens.  Too bad the headline on the article misspells it as “Joesycape!” Another interesting article by Nick Wilkinson tells about making a sculptural garden.  Too bad this one is credited to Gary James & Christopher Drover on the heading! I will tell about my own experience with landscaping next month.

The 2016 issue of Bradleya (yearbook of the British Cactus and Succulent Society) is out and is a spectacular 240 pages. Among the many articles is one on Cleistocactus which has closed flowers and another on cephalia, those funny flowering “heads” on some cacti. It also includes an article on Euphorbia mlanjeana of which I am one of four authors.  I am disappointed to learn that this euphorbia is not endemic to Malawi’s Mulanje Massive, but is also found in Mozambique.  I am grateful for my inclusion as this means I have had at least one article published every year since 1974.  I guess I’d better get to work on something for next year.

On the 22nd we went to the wedding of Alissa and Sundanse at the Kern County Museum.  We have known them for sometime as they were among several young people that “hung out” at my sister Lora’s.  (She was a social worker and “picked up” kids who were aged out of the system.) At the reception I was pleased when Lora was asked to dance with the groom as another mother.

We decorated our entryway for Halloween this year for the first time.  It started with a branch from one of our cypress trees which fell over into the back yard. I cut it off and found that it had developed a bulbous growth from which monstrose twisted branches arose.   I stuck this in a large pot and hung spiders, bats and ghosts from it to make a Halloween tree!  I added various spooky plants (blood lily, ghost spurge, dragon tree etc.) with labels.  Further additions were large African and Mexican statues, a pumpkin and other more usual decorations.  We handed out skittles, but only a dozen kids came by.

I hardly ever watch sports, but the World Series this year was so unusual (with two “losers” facing each other) that we ended up watching it.  This was especially important to Polly as she was born in Chicago.  So, of course, we rooted for the Cubs.  They came through on 2 Nov. with a spectacular win in the 10th inning!

On Nov.3rd we met a large family group (including our grand- kids) at the Fresno Zoo.  We had lunch overlooking the African Savanna and I took a picture of James and Alice with a tankful of Malawi cichlids. (James was born in Malawi.)  The kids got to feed the giraffes and watch the elephants eat.  The only disappointment was not seeing the rhinos which were not out for some reason.  That evening we were joined by Polly’s sisters and niece for dinner at the old spaghetti factory.

Next day we headed over to the coast at Cambria where we stayed in a rented house sponsored by my former student Isaac Lusunzi. (He felt he owed us something for our friendship in Africa.)  The house was in the marine terrace area of town and we were able to walk to the beach from it.  Unfortunately this required a long stairway down with a drop off at the end.  The beach there is very rocky.  More accessible was the bluff trail of the West Fiscalini Ranch Reserve. It circles otter cove, but we could not distinguish any among the kelp.

On the 5th we went into the middle of Cambria and had lunch at Lynn’s. Polly and I then looked at a succulent sale at someone’s house (not very exciting) and then shopped at Grow Nursery.  I didn’t buy any plants, but I did get a beautiful green calcite crystal from Chihuahua, Mexico.

Back at the house we BBQ’d steaks from a half cow which James had bought back in Susanville. That evening some of the group went on a night tour of Hearst’s Castle while Polly and I stayed at the house with the boys. (We had toured the castle on our honeymoon back in 1964.)

Next day we went up to Leffingwell Landing at the north end of Moonstone beach.  There were lots of small semiprecious stones: agate, jade, jasper and, of course, moonstone.  There was plenty of sand for the kids, but the tide was coming in rather aggressively. We then went up to see the elephant seals.  This time Lora saw the zebra which had eluded her on previous visits.  On Monday we returned to Bakersfield.

On Tuesday we voted. We had dinner with the speaker Jeff Moore, but told him we would not stay for his talk as we had heard him in Fresno.  We did stay for the start of the meeting, and I got a look at the new book on Aloes and Agaves as well as the interesting tillandsias dressed up as a nautilus and an octopus. But then we headed out for what was expected to be a victory party! It ended as a dirge.

I have never seen a crazier election in this country.  I hope we can heal after the hatred that was spewed out!  I’m afraid some of us did not take things seriously: at the first debate we gathered at party headquarters and filled out information cards.  We then took those cards (which were green) out to the taco truck on Truxtun for free tacos.  We also had skittle cookies and packets of skittles.  No one was ready for the serious election that unfolded.

Lora Dances

Halloween Entryway

Fresno Zoo

James & Alice



Everyone's Happy Before the Election

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