Prickly surge as gardens go cactus

AS we go into a Mexican-type climate, there is resurgence in the interest of cacti and succulents, with their flowers of outstanding variety and colour.

This was evident with the display by the Cactus and Succulent Society of the ACT at the last Horticultural Society show.

When visiting our daughter Yvette, who lives in Holland, I saw the amazing display of cacti pictured here.

A small section of one of the largest cacti collections in Holland.

A small section of one of the largest cacti collections in Holland.

The owner is Mevrouw Mien Kerstens, who started her collection of cacti when she left home to get married in 1960. She took with her a cactus from her mother’s small collection, which formed the basis of what was to follow – possibly one of the largest private collections of cacti in Holland. That original cactus is still alive.

Her hobby, even at a sprightly 78, still takes her to many parts of Holland looking for rare specimens. She can tell you within a few days when each cactus is due to flower. Note particularly the cleanliness on the benches and floor; good housekeeping is vital for keeping diseases at bay.

239If you are interested in knowing more about these amazing plants the Cactus and Succulent Society meets at the Hughes Community Centre, 10.30am-12.30pm, on the third Sunday of every month. Activities include pot and plant sales, bus trips, displays and talks on the best plants for our climate. More information from or call president Jackie Warburton on 0414 845238.

I AM still receiving stress calls from gardeners with heat-related plant problems, so far not from heat-affected owners!

One frequent query is that many deciduous trees are dropping leaves as in autumn. For mature trees this is not normally a problem, as they go into early winter hibernation mode. If, by chance, we receive sustained rain in the next few weeks they could, quite out of sequence, start sprouting new leaves. They may still not lose all their leaves until autumn and will bounce back next spring after their extended rest.

HOWEVER, in some gardens I have been asked to look at, there are native plants that are dying in the heat. Usually, these have been planted in the last one to two years and are not fully established. In each garden, all the plants are being irrigated with drip irrigation. There is little evidence of exotic plants nearby being affected by the heat. Some of the native plants not surviving include correa, banksia, callistemon and kangaroo paws.

MERYLYN Condon, of 2CC’s gardening show on Saturday and Sunday mornings, is leading a tour to the Chelsea Flower Show from May 11 to 23. The tour also includes many famous English gardens including Sissinghurst Castle and Great Dixter. With only a few vacancies left, bookings to or 1300 551997.


  • Plant calendula flowers for winter colour, especially around veggies to discourage insects.
  • Watch out for caterpillars at this time. Spray with Dipel, a natural bio-insecticide non-toxic to humans. Spray under the leaves and on the ground under the plant.
  • Continue to plant English spinach, so much tastier that so-called spinach or silver beet.
  • Give Asters (Michaelmas daisies) and chrysanthemums their last feed before autumn flowering with Seasol Powerfeed.

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