Outlook for 2015

Saguaro Santa / by Megan McCormick on Flickr (CC)

Saguaro Santa / by Megan McCormick on Flickr (CC)

A repeat of the warm summer of 2014 would be nice… meanwhile, all we can promise is a new set of talks to suit your interests (hopefully!). We will start off the new year with a visit to Heidelberg, Germany: a talk from the BCSS slide library which features Werner Rauh’s collection of botanical treasures from Madagascar.

Details on all the new talks will follow shortly – you can look forward to Trevor Wray, Terry Smale, Alan Phipps, Dorothy Minors, Tony Roberts and Geoff Bowman visiting, to name but a few. Current planning is that we will also attend Gardeners’ World at the NEC, a new plant fair at Cannon Hill Park, events at Winterbourne, and and we will put on two competitive shows at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

We hope to see you around in 2015. Merry Christmas!

November meeting: Larger flowering Mammillarias / Chris Davies

Thank you to Chris for his very informative talk on the larger flowering Mammillarias. He gave us details on a large number of species, their habitats, pictures of plants at different locations, in cultivation – and of course some expert advice on growing them in a Birmingham greenhouse. All of the Mamms he mentioned have wonderful flowers, not least M. senilis; quite a few require some care when it comes to watering (once a fortnight for Chris, and he grows them in a fairly gritty compost mix).

Mammillaria guelzowiana in flower / by Mike Keeling on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria guelzowiana in flower / by Mike Keeling on Flickr (CC) This species is one of Chris’s favourites.

Mammillaria guelzowiana in habitat (Rio Nazas, Durango) / by Amante Darmanin on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria guelzowiana in habitat (Rio Nazas, Durango) / by Amante Darmanin on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria sanchez-mejoradae / by Triangulated Truth on Flickr (CC). Barely a centimeter across, and so are the flowers of this tiny Mammillaria.

Mammillaria sanchez-mejoradae / by Triangulated Truth on Flickr (CC). Barely a centimeter across, and so are the flowers of this desirable and tiny Mammillaria.

Mammillaria theresae in flower / by Laurent Dehay on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria theresae in flower / by Laurent Dehay on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria theresae in habitat / by Amante Darmanin on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria theresae in habitat (Coneto Pass, Durango) / by Amante Darmanin on Flickr (CC)

Mammillaria senilis

Mammillaria senilis: likes it cold and dry winter and shows flower buds from around now.

Coming up: November meeting

Thank you to everyone attending the autumn show either as exhibitor or as a guest – we had well over 400 entries and many excellent plants on display.

Later on in October we had David Porter with us with a talk on Euphorbias from South Africa, and we are now looking forward to Chris Davies talking on the larger flowering Mammilarias, on 18 November.

Mammillaria senilis

Mammillaria senilis in Rene Geissler’s collection – one of the more difficult Mammillaria species, and with showy large flowers.

Coming up: Autumn Show

This coming Sunday at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road, from 11am till 4pm. This show is held jointly with the Haworthia Society.

August and September talks

We are grateful to John Watmough and Peter Hallett who gave talks in August and September, both well attended and well received. I received a few notes on John’s talk about Stapeliads from our Secretary, Mark O’Connor: John brought along a variety of Stapeliads, plants “noted for lots of stems and occasionally a pungent smell. Many of the plants of this type in South Africa are better at attracting flies than rotting meat close by, so pungent are the smells.” They are not all bad, though, and many species can be grown successfully on a windowsill without fear of an invasion of bluebottles or too much pong. There is a thread on the BCSS Forum which shows a variety of Stapeliads in flower.

Also in August, Arthur Tomkins and Gill Mills received BCSS Diplomas of Merit in recognition of their exceptional service to the society. They’ve long been very active members of the Branch – congratulations!

Unfortunately I don’t have any notes on the September talk, but I have heard that it was inspiring. Peter Hallett spoke on how to grow plants hydroponically, in a soilless medium such as pumice or pure grit. Peter does not grow his cacti with their roots permanently submerged in water, which is what the term ‘hydroculture’ in the title of the talk perhaps suggested, but instead gave hints on growing them in a soilless medium, which is something some commercial nurseries on the continent do.

Coming up: September meeting

Hydroton / photo by Waleed Alzuhair on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Hydroton / photo by Waleed Alzuhair on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

We are pleased to be able to welcome Peter Hallett to our Branch, who will tell us more about growing cacti in a rather unusual way: in hydroculture.

This is on Tuesday 16 September, 7pm for a 7.30pm start, at Winterbourne as usual.

Good summer? Looks like it!

Aeonium Zwartkopf / by Christian Bohm

Aeonium Zwartkopf with a lovely sun tan earlier this year / by Christian Bohm

Autumn Show 2014: Schedule now available

Haworthia pumila / drawing by Joyce Cocozza

Just received the schedule for the Autumn Show this year, on Sunday, 5 October, at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We hold this show in conjunction with the Haworthia Society. Please consider entering a plant at the show – you won’t have to pay an entrance fee to the gardens if you do!

Coming up: August meeting

Stapelia hirsuta flower / by Martin Heigan on Flick -CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

Stapelia hirsuta flower / by Martin Heigan on Flick -CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

We are pleased to be able to welcome John Watmough from Oxford this month with a talk on Stapeliads – a fascinating group of plants which includes some old favourites and a great many species which are rather tricky to grow. They may be a little out of fashion these days and a little hard to source, but they ‘are not to be sniffed at’, as our president says, and he knows exactly why… John’s talk is on Tuesday 19 August, usual time and usual place.

Blow flies on Stapelia grandiflora flower / by Martin Heigan on Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

Blow flies on Stapelia grandiflora flower / by Martin Heigan on Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

 

July meeting: From Cape Town to the Orange River / Alice Vanden Bon

Alice Vanden Bon took us on a whistle-stop tour of South Africa and its wonderfully diverse flora. Starting off in Cape Town and taking in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens she introduced us to 16 habitats that she visited over a number of years, with reference in particular to species of Conophytum, Crassula and a number of bulbs.

Arid House at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Some of the Conos she showed us are relatively recent introductions such as Conophytum smaleorum – a chance discovery from a few years ago, when she and her travelling companions found their dirt road blocked and they climbed up the hill by which they had left their vehicles… One of their most spectacular recent introductions is Conophytum youngii, described in the BCSS journal Cactus World.

This was a magnificent introduction to a wide range of plants not often seen in cultivation, where colouration and compact growth cannot match that of plants in their natural habitat. If you missed the talk and you would like to catch up on this: Andy Young, one of Alice’s travelling companions, wrote several articles on their joint trips for the Mesemb Study Group Bulletin, which we have in the branch library.