Coming up: March meeting

 Steven Hammer's Sphaeroid Institute, Feb. 2015

This month we are very lucky to have Andy Young introducing us to Steven Hammer’s collection, also known as the Sphaeroid Institute. Both Andy and Steven Hammer are Mesemb specialists, and both have published widely on these plants. Both even have plants from the Aizoaceae family named after them: if you know Hammeria gracilis – this is named after Steven. And recently described Conophytum youngii is named after Andy.

Steven Hammer’s collection extends much beyond Mesembs, encompassing Haworthia and South African succulents more widely. For a little taster see this entry from a different blog. There is also that set of images on Flickr that we have linked to above (you can click through the images from this page) – showing the collection and the master himself.

We meet this coming Tuesday, 21 March, usual place and time. Do come along!

Coming up: February talk – this Tuesday

Assorted Lithops seedlings

We are delighted to have Roy Earle introducing us to the growing of Lithops. If you fancy learning how to raise Lithops from seed and to keep maturing plants in good condition, this is the talk for your. Usual time and place – this coming Tuesday.

January talk – this coming Tuesday

Dudleya pulverulenta growing epiphytically on a sycamore tree / by
Joe Decruyenaere on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Just a quick reminder that the frst of this year’s talks will be this coming Tuesday, 7.30pm at our regular meeting venue at Winterbourne. Do come along if you can!

New programme – now online

Worcester Karoo Gardens by South African Tourism on Flickr
Quiver tree forest by Martin Heidan on Flickr
Dudleya pulverulenta

The new branch programme for 2017 is now online – we hope to see you to some of our meetings this year!

Coming up: January meeting

Dudleya pulverulenta growing epiphytically on a sycamore tree / by
Joe Decruyenaere on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We shall start off the new year with a talk from the slide library – a set compiled by Sonia Barker-Fricker on plants of the genus Dudleya. These are new world succulents, and many species have leaves covered in a white powdery substance. Only a few are grown more widely – but this talk will introduce us to many of the Dudleya species known.

We meet as before in the Horticultural Training Centre at Winterbourne House right by the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston, every third Tuesday of the month, at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. The talk on Dudleya will be on 17 January – all welcome!

New Branch Secretary

The branch have a new secretary: Glynis Bate. If you have any queries regarding our branch please contact her at

Programme for 2017

The programme for 2017 is complete and will be online within the next week or so. We shall start off with the talk on Dudleya (see previous posting).

Then in February Roy Earle will tell us more about raising and keeping Lithops – something we touched on a little at his last talk, but given the interest in practical cultivation and propagation techniques we thought this topic would merit a more in-depth talk and demonstration.

And in March we are looking forward to welcoming Andrew Young with an account of a visit to the collection of the American specialist Steven Hammer.

Details on all the other talks will follow nearer the time, and the schedule of talks for the entire year will be published shortly.

Coming up: AGM

This coming Tuesday, 13 December, we will hold our AGM. We will discuss reports from branch officers, and it is an opportunity for everyone in the branch to share thoughts on activities for next year.

Mammillaria zeilmanniana / Photo: Cay Kruse (with permission)

The branch programme for 2017 is complete, with talks on some favourite cacti (Mammillaria), very special habitats, some magnificent plant collections, and the conservation efforts in Mexico. More details to follow shortly – and do let us know if you have requests for talks or topics for future branch meetings!

The AGM will be held at our usual meeting place at Winterbourne, at 7.30pm.


This Agave salmiana, housed at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, decided to flower – always a spectacular sight, even if the flower stem still has some way to travel.

Here is a recent photo taken by our branch member Eddie Adams – and how this ends can be seen in a forum posting by Geoff Bowman, who gave a talk to our branch last year. His documentation is great to get a sense of scale: Geoff had to take out several panes of glass from the greenhouse roof; the plant itself was planted out in his commercial-style greenhouse and with free root-run grew to about a couple of meters in height (and rather wider).

Change of programme: November meeting


Unfortunately Andrew Young is unable to travel to Birmingham this month, so we re-arranged his talk on Steven Hammer’s collection for March next year.

Instead, we have moved the talk originally scheduled for March 2017 forward: Derek Castle will tell us about a visit he made to South Africa, this coming Tuesday, 15 November, 7pm, usual place.