The Cactus Patch
February 2019

A Long Holiday Period
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

There were Christmas celebrations right from the beginning of December, but the actual celebration began for us on the 21st when six of us went in a van to Ceres for an open house by my mother’s cousin Patricia Cousins.  The house was full of relatives and friends, some of whom I actually knew. It was a long trip to accomplish in one day, but well worth it.

Back in Bakersfield, on the 23rd we had lunch at the Speakeasy to honor the birthday of Daniel’s wife Minnie. Then on the 24th we had Christmas Eve pozole and tamales at Lora’s.  On Christmas day we were back at Lora’s for a huge feast.  Next day we went to see Mary Poppins Returns.  In spite of the new cast and songs, it was too much of a repeat of the original.

After a break of a few days, we gathered at Anne’s for New Year’s Eve.  We went outside to spread our noise across the neighborhood and got to witness a signal flair sent up by someone to the east of us!

On the 3rd of January we heard Gary Duke speak on Bolivia at the Fresno club. It was an excellent talk, but I would have liked a little more on people and scenery and a few less repetitions on the cacti.  The Fresno club has moved to the Redeemer Lutheran Church in the northwest of Fresno and we had a delightful dinner at the nearby High Sierra Grill.

On the 8th, of course, we heard Keith Taylor’s talk at the BCSS. His pots are outstanding.  I am jealous of his production of the kind of variety I should have been making all these years.  (But who has the time?)  His plantings are also the striking blend of plant and pot I would love to achieve.

On the 12th we went to the memorial service of Gloria Marshall, a family friend who had been a missionary in the Congo. It was interesting to hear from her children who had grown up there.  On the 13th we watched the movie Gandhi once again.  It was worth reseeing as I picked up points that I missed the first time.  One such point was the first protests (in South Africa) were during the rule of Smuts, a more liberal leader.  I wonder what the result would have been under some of the less tolerant South African leaders.

On the 16th we celebrated Lora’s birthday with breakfast at Denny's.  Polly bought a stack of Chocolate pancakes for Lora on the 13th when we ate at IHOP because we thought we would not be back on the 20th. since we were going to Fresno on the 19th for the wedding of Polly’s niece Margaret. We did go to the wedding.  It was as usual except for the ring bearer who gave the pillow with the rings to his mother and ran away.  And then there was the BLUE cake.  It went with the blue dresses etc. but it gave everyone blue tongues. 

We went to breakfast with friends in Fresno on the 20th, and still made it back to Bakersfield for lunch because lunch was postponed to 1:30.  We were almost late anyway, because when we arrived at home there was water pouring out of the garage. The heater was broken!  I turned off the house water and we went to lunch at the Boulevard.  We skipped the after lunch games and went back home where John turned off the heater.  I turned the house water back on, but now we have no hot water.  We also have some wet boxes to sort in the garage.

The book on Agaves which I mentioned last month is quite good, but it fails to relate Agaves to any other groups except for a brief mention that of the four species described by Linneaus one was removed to Furcraea and another to Manfreda.  There is no mention of the differences between the three genera.  (Incidentally, not everyone accepts the separations.)

The genus Manfreda has very short stems and fleshy unarmed leaves.  I have Manfreda maculosa in my garden, but I have never seen the flowers.  It is said to have solitary flowers in loose spikes on long stalks. It is sometimes referred to as the Texas tuberose and, indeed, some authorities lump it in with the tuberose genus Pollanthes.  Both Manfreda and Pollanthes are sometimes lumped in with Agave. In Pollanthes the flower tube is curved whereas in Agave and Manfreda it is straight. I shall comment on Furcraea next month.

Changing to a different plant group, the November & December 2018 issue of Fruit gardener, a journal of the California Rare Fruit Growers has a cover story on the “Peruvian Apple Cactus”.  This name is new to me, but I have long grown it and called it Cereus peruvianus.  (I have been told a few more recent names for this plant, but I suspect a lot of people still call it this.)  The cover picture shows a fruit on the monstrose form!  The article also mentions the Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus species) which I tried here, but it did not survive.  (The fruits are available at Vons, but are quite expensive.)  There is also a brief Addendum on the “Golden Candelabrum” a Euphorbia species which is said to resemble the Cereus.  To me they are quite different.

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