October 2010


Misc31 Oct 2010 10:48 am

You can’t buy this costume, but you can rent it from Angel’s Fancy Dress in London.

I have to warn you though, that they consider this costume to be both a cactus costume and a pickle costume, so you might have to tell people what you are when wearing it.

News31 Oct 2010 06:45 am

From Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, the local newspaper finds that an agave in bloom is a sweet mystery for the residents.

There’s a strange presence in Haumoana that has curious onlookers stumped.

Outside Paula Novak’s art gallery a 5m stem protrudes from a plant… 60cm in diameter and began its growth spurt about six months ago. The unusual plant is subject to speculation from visiting garden groups, locals and visitors, many of whom liken it to a giant asparagus….

They believed it was a form of century plant, which produced a spike that reached heights up to 8m before flowering.

Locals were watching with interest in the hope of witnessing the rare flowering…

Anyone who can shed light on the plant could contact him at the gallery on 875 0061.

So I’m sure you all can help these people out with the information they need. They kindly printed a phone number if you wanted to call them in Haumoana and fill them in on the life cycle of the agave.

But wait! Don’t call New Zealand just yet! First, let me tell you a little something about this Haumoana:

The Kingdom of Haumoana is a coastal settlement just south of the Tukituki River outlet in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand… 10 kilometres east of Hastings;

it incorporates a school, a Church, a General Store, a takeaway shop, a garage, a hall and a Fire Station. The village has developed as a bach settlement and the surrounding area has historically been used for sheep and cattle grazing…

Misc30 Oct 2010 09:43 am

It’s a scary succulent-filled skull, from Notcot.com.

Click through for more angles of this luscious Haworthia planted in a crystal skull shot glass.

Quotes30 Oct 2010 08:43 am

But the last group of Moscow’s dogs is by far the most amazing. They are the beggars, for obvious reasons. In these packs, the alpha isn’t the best hunter or strongest, it’s the smartest. The most impressive beggars, however, get their own title: ‘metro dogs’. They rely on scraps of food from the daily commuters who travel the public transportation system. To do so, the dogs have learned to navigate the subway. They know stops by name, and integrate a number of specific stations into their territories.

Science!

Whippets29 Oct 2010 02:34 pm

From the French, it’s a Whippet Bench

Videos - Instructional29 Oct 2010 10:42 am

They used our custom Succulent Wall Panels on the DIY Network show, Bath Crashers. And they gave our delivery van a plug. That’s me in the drivers seat. I condensed a very jumpy 30 minutes down to 2, with our 1 second part at about 1:30.

News29 Oct 2010 09:55 am

Every year I feature cactus costumes in October on the blog. This year I’ve decided to do something different. This year I am going to pass judgement on these things.

For you, I offer the best and worst of the year in cactus costumes.

1. The Best for 2010

This one is handmade by Cyndi in Meridian, ID. She says, “The homemade cactus costume was a complete original design and was sewn from fleece, twine, fake flowers, and pot from the dollar store.”

Excellent!

2. The Worst for this year, and maybe some other years too.

This one comes from City Fancy Dress in Brisbane (presumably in Australia) under their category, “Something Different.” Indeed. Different does not mean better, clearly.

News&Recipes29 Oct 2010 09:28 am

Interesting look at the Pitaya market and new varieties being developed to be tastier and use even less water. These are from the night-blooming Hylocereus from Central America, although the Pitaya name can also be applied to many different cactus fruit. The more common name around here is Dragon Fruit.

The most interesting part is the difficulties with pollinating a night-blooming plant when it’s been taken out of it’s native habitat, away from it’s night-pollinator.

Maybe I should add a margarita recipe to this post. What do you think?

Well, this is what I found:

Red Dragon Cocktail

*Vanilla Vodka
*Stawberry Liqueur
*Dragon fruit
*strawberry
*Vanilla syrup

You should click through for the instructions, but the instructions are really just to pour it all together and stir. Easy enough.

From Alex’s Cocktails in the UK.

Whippets29 Oct 2010 07:31 am

Cactus Whippet

News28 Oct 2010 10:41 am

…in Hong Kong, where it’s not technically illegal.

A 61-year-old florist and his middle- aged assistant have been arrested for allegedly promoting the sale of a cactus plant as an alternative to the mind- bending drug ketamine.

The Lophophora williamsii cactus, pictured, is not on Hong Kong’s dangerous drugs list but has for centuries been linked with transcendence practices and psychedelic psychotherapy. It is commonly known as peyote.

Narcotics Bureau officers raided Exland Nursery on Flower Market Road on Sunday afternoon and seized 34 pots of the plant for testing. A label saying “Lophophora Williamsii = Ketamine” was attached to the plants at the nursery.

The lesson is clear – don’t sell peyote in Hong Kong as a substitute for an illegal drug. I would add that this is a good policy in the US too, where peyote is specifically illegal.

The website doesn’t have a picture of the florist or the peyote but for some reason there is this image on the page.

Polls28 Oct 2010 09:17 am

San Francisco28 Oct 2010 08:01 am

The crew finished up a garden in San Francisco last week. Here’s a snapshot at the end of the day.

Keithshowing off his strength cleaning up empty plastic pots.

Contests&Polls27 Oct 2010 07:31 am

So todays contest is simple. Identify the plant in the first picture and win the plant in the second picture. But here’s the little wrinkle. You must come to the store today with the answer! Sorry for all you people who don’t live in the Bay Area (Go Giants).

So please, don’t answer the question in the comments. Come in to the store for the free plant instead!

This is the plant you want to ID in person only at the store to win a free plant.

Nemesia fruticans is the free plant you get. We have 5 left of these reliable drought-tolerant perennials that will bloom for most of the year. Yay!

Blogs26 Oct 2010 02:32 pm

Danger Garden has spotted a carwash with some tortured shrubbery in the shape of Saguaros, also known as “Arborvitae Saguaro” – quite the fancy name for such as that. Impressive!

How-to26 Oct 2010 12:28 pm

This is how we install a big cactus for you.

First we mummify the plant and then we deliver it to you on a stretcher and we lay it out on the ground nice and gentle while wearing nitrile gloves

Then we plant it and remove all the wrappings and walk away from a job well done!

Now, don’t go getting all pedantic on me, you know I know that’s not a cactus – it’s a Euphorbia. I didn’t say these were photos of us installing a cactus, I said this post was about how to install a cactus. We just chose a Euphorbia for this particular demonstration, but the information is the same.

Photography26 Oct 2010 06:40 am

Glottiphyllum longum is one of the least popular of the plants we carry. Practically nobody likes it. Every month I bring out new mesembs and they sell well, unusual things as they are, but not this one. Our current crop is big and fat and still nobody cares. We’ve had them for over 2 years now, so you would think if someone liked it we’d know by now. So please, I beg you, buy one from me, just to humor me.

Oh, and while it’s true that I live near Oakland and go to A’s games occasionally, Go Giants.

News25 Oct 2010 12:10 pm

From a newspaper called the Gaston Gazette comes this local story of a local woman who made it into her local newspaper for getting a cactus to bloom!

Hilda Olive with a blooming ‘Epiphyllum oxypetalum,’ commonly known as an orchid cactus, that she has been plant-sitting for her niece at her Gastonia home on Saturday October 16, 2010. The plant rarely blooms, and only at night, with flowers wilting before dawn.
Photo: Ben Goff / The Gazette

I wonder where this Gaston place is? I don’t know, but searching around their website, I found this reference to a local Scottish Heritage Day, with video of bagpipers at work (NSFW if your place of business doesn’t allow bagpipers).

Make sure you click the photo for the full size version. It gets a lot bigger…

News25 Oct 2010 07:57 am

Here’s an interesting story of cactus being used as part of the admissions process to Oxford. I assume its a good subject because the information is readily deducible and yet most applicants don’t already have a prior knowledge of the inner workings of the cactus.

Teenagers being interviewed for a place at Oxford might be handed a cactus and asked to describe it… according to sample questions released by the university today in an attempt to demystify its admissions procedure….

The interviewer who set the cactus question, Martin Speight, of St Anne’s College, said: “We give the student a cactus in a pot and a close-up photo of the cactus’s surface structure and ask them to describe the object in as much detail as possible using the plant and the photo. We are looking for observation, attention to detail, both at the large and micro scale.”

Candidates seeking a place on an undergraduate degree in biological sciences are expected to deduce why the cactus is bulbous, or why it has a particular array of spines.

“There will frequently be more than one logical answer to these questions, and we are likely to follow one answer with another question – for example: ‘The big spines are to stop the cactus being eaten, yes, but by what sort of animals?’,” Speight said.

“We would also bring in more general questions at the end of the cactus discussion such as what are the problems faced by plants and animals living in very dry habitats such as deserts.”

As a followup I would ask: if the challenges of the animals living in the desert include dealing with the spines on the cactus, and the challenges of the cactus include animals that want to get past the spines and eat it, how has this particular balance been maintained for so long?

However for today’s class we’re asking all of you loyal readers to describe everything you see in the above photo, using as many botanical terms as possible. Extra points for correct use of the word “Aureoles” and double scores for use of the phrase “Ripped apart by a javelina in heat”.

Photography25 Oct 2010 06:53 am

Spines glow red in the sun.

Agave victoriae-reginae

Questions24 Oct 2010 08:44 am

From our facebook page, comes a buggy question.

I have this pot with diff cacti in it. I notice this white stuff since mid summer. Do you know what’s the white stuff growing on them? and why?

It has been spreading already. Thank you for your help. Kenya

Kenya,

You’ve got Cochineal, a pest that will eat your cactus, but on the good side it is the original source for red dye.

I recommend spraying with neem oil, and cleaning the bugs off with alcohol and a soft… paintbrush.

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