Cactus of the Year 2014: the Christmas Cactus

Schlumbergera hybrid / copyright A. Hofacker

Each autumn, the German equivalent to the BCSS announces a ‘Cactus of the Year’. For 2014 they picked the Christmas Cactus Schlumbergera. Look on their website for an article on Christmas Cacti; there is an English translation available for download too.

Don’t forget our talk on this subject this coming Tuesday, 19 November, with Mark Preston. Usual time, usual place. All welcome!

Bob Stanley’s Mammillarias

Mammillaria canelensis - M. semperviviii - M. heyderi var. hemisphaerica

Mammillaria canelensis – M. semperviviii – M. heyderi var. hemisphaerica

It is a little over a year now that Bob Stanley passed away – a Mammillaria specialist who lived in the Birmingham area. Although Bob was not an active member of our branch his father Albert spent many years with us as a very valuable and popular member, also specialising in Mammillarias.

Bob Stanley was particularly known to members of the Mammillaria Society, where he was a regular contributor to the society journal, covering cultivation as well as taxonomy of Mammillaria. Apparently self-taught in German, he translated two important monographs on the genus into English: “Die Gattung Mamillaria” (1991, 2 vols) and “Die Gattung Mammillaria nach dem heutigen Stand meines Wissens” (1987). When Bob’s collection was broken up, a fair number of his plants came to Winterbourne where they will now be kept.

Below you can see pictures of some of Bob’s plants that are now in the care of the staff at Winterbourne and the BCSS Birmingham volunteers.

Mammillaria petrophila - M. meissneri - M. microcarpa - M. canelensis Rog 657

Mammillaria petrophila – M. meissneri – M. microcarpa – M. canelensis Rog 657

Mammillaria multiseta - M. M. hahniana - M. spec.

Mammillaria multiseta – M. M. hahniana – M. spec.

Mammillaria cinobiltinei

Mammillaria cinobiltinei

Coryphantha jalpanensis - C. asterias

Coryphantha jalpanensis – C. asterias

Thelocactus bicolor

Thelocactus bicolor

Whilst on the subject of Schlumbergera…

For those of you with some knowledge of German: cultivation advice from the famous cactus nursery Haage in Erfurt, Germany.

Coming up: November meeting

Schlumbergera / by epiforums on Flickr

Schlumbergera / by epiforums on Flickr

Our November meeting will be on Schlumbergera, or Christmas Cacti as they are also known. Mark Preston will be sharing his advice on growing these plants successfully – on Tuesday, 19 November, 7.30 pm at Winterbourne. All welcome!

October 2013 Meeting: Flowers in my Greenhouse / Arthur Tomkins

It is the time of year to look back on what’s done well this year, and Arthur kindly showed us pictures of plants in his splendid collection: large bowls of Mammillaria bombycina, Neoporteria flowers that almost seem to glow from the inside, Thelocactus conothelos var. aurantiacus with a very unusual flower colour.

Below is just a small selection of his plants in flower. This was a well received, informal talk, and it was great to see so many members attending!

Autumn Show 2013

We’ve had well over 300 entries for this year’s Autumn Show (and a large group of visitors from South Wales Branch) – our organizers were well pleased. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Unfortunately low light levels in the hall mean that taking photographs with simple cameras is a little tricky. I managed a few, however. The Prickly Pear has been grown expertly on the wall of the Winterbourne Orchid House, so I hear. Sadly, those espaliers are no more since the Orchid House is being refurbished… Anyway, they made a nice entry for the novelty section in our show.

Coming up: October meeting

Some of Arthur's Mammillarias in flower this year

Some of Arthur’s Mammillarias in flower this year

Slight change of programme: Arthur Tomkins and Derek Castle will be giving talks this coming Tuesday, on plants that have done well for them this year. Time and place as usual – all welcome!

Autumn Show: Parking

car park 4 / by Tim Caynes on Flickr

car park 4 / by Tim Caynes on Flickr

Please note that you will need to register your car at the entrance of the Botanical Gardens. There is no charge for leaving your car on the Botanical Gardens’ car park, but if you fail to register your car you are likely to incur a hefty fine.

Entries for Autumn Show

It is not too late to send Gill your entry forms! The show is next weekend (Sunday, 6 October, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, to be precise).

For more info and a show schedule please see here: BCSS Birmingham Autumn 2013 Show Schedule

August 2013 Meeting: Mexico Field Trip / Dorothy Minors

A while back, in August, we had Dorothy Minors from Sheffield Branch here with us. Her talk was an excellent travelogue: great photographs and a wealth of interesting observations on the way some of the Mexican cacti grow in habitat.

The role of the tour guide played a former Sheffield Branch member who found work in Mexico: Martin Smith, for a time curator of the San Miguel Botanical Gardens (a certain Charles Glass held this post until his death in 1998).

Dorothy showed us some highlights from the Gardens, such as large Echinoactus grusonii rescued from a site that was flooded for a dam project; Ariocarpus bravoanus ssp. hintonii; a perhaps 200 year old Aztekium hintonii; and Mammillaria marcosii, one of the many species of cacti discovered by Charles Glass. The group also searched for plants in habitat, where it was often overcast and wet and even plants such as Ariocarpus looked surprisingly plump and fresh. She mentioned some interesting local uses for cacti (Ferocactus boiled up with sugar and water makes candy; Opuntia pectocarpus is popular as Christmas decoration), and she discussed conservation issues too, particularly the collection of plants from habitat.