Joyce's Diary - May 2008
Echinopsis, Rebutia and Sulcorebutia are well into their flowering season, their bright vibrant flowers lighting up a dark dull day. Last autumn one clump of Rebutia, filling a large pan, was looking so old and straggly that I took about twenty cuttings from it and the remainder was left out of doors waiting for me to throw it away. The cuttings are now potted up and flowering away but strangely enough the remaining heads on the old plant which have been outside throughout the rain and frost of the winter are looking strong and healthy. I knew that Rebutia over wintered dry in a garden frame could survive (providing they escaped slug damage). I was quite surprised that my old massacred plant survived the wet and the cold.
Gymnocalycium are also well into flower. One of my favourites is “horridispinum” with its cluster of large pink flowers. The flowers of some Gymnos can be rather disappointing, their colour being rather pale and washed out looking, so those with good strong colours are particularly welcome. Bob Warwick gave me a cutting of one of his hybrids which has small heads and a most attractive orange flower. I think it was an offspring of red and yellow parents. It made me feel that I should experiment more with cross pollinating.
My Testudinaria are nearing the end of their growing season and will soon be ready to have their old dry stems removed. It is a job I dread because they make such a mess, shedding their leaves all over the place. When they were seedlings they seemed to take a dormant period of about five or six months, so much so that I used to wonder if they would ever come back into growth. About twenty years later they only take about six weeks rest in the middle of the summer and then rush back into growth, with stems shooting up a few inches each day.
Brighamia has been banished to the garden for the summer. No matter how I treat it, it seems to be a magnet for red spider mite at this time of the year and the only thing to do is to put it out of doors until frost threatens. Although Brighamia is now an endangered species, I was most surprised to see young plants, in full flower, on sale in Homebase a few months ago. They cost about £20. each and came with details of where they came from and how rare they were. The plants looked as if they had been grown quickly in warm humid conditions. I wonder how many have survived in their new homes.
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