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For most people in the hobby of growing and studying cacti and other succulents, the name Gerhard Marx needs little introduction. Not only has he penned many articles about the succulent plants of southern Africa, but his drawings have graced many a book and journal cover where in one drawing, he is able to reflect all the features of the plant that sets that species apart from other related taxa. Evidence of a great eye for detail.

But first we had to take our trusted Nissan XTrail to the dealer for its service. The courtesy car was the smallest model in the range and I worried if the four of us could squeeze in. Fortunately it was only a short journey to the hillside to the south of Oudtshoorn where we folded ourselves out of the car and for more than two hours were shown around the shade houses, enjoyed great entertaining and educational chat while taking pictures of some amazing plants. The Haworthia truncata that we saw in nature yesterday looked nothing like the plants on display here, specially selected for the unique markings on their leaves, each a unique work of art in its own right.

S2793 Haworthia truncata cv

S2793 Haworthia truncata cv

We then followed Gerhard to his studio where he had created some fantastic painting. Art work on the walls was evidence that he did not just indulge in botanical art!

S2794 - Gerhard Marx teaching Eunice how to draw plants

S2794 – Gerhard Marx teaching Eunice how to draw plants

We also had a look around the grounds where of course there were some succulents that were already growing here before the nursery, house and studio were built. We each received a copy of the set of Four Southern African Aloes that I had seen hanging, framed, in the rooms of friends back in the UK. Gerhard also sketched out instructions of how to get to some more plant stops in days to come and we made sure that these sketches too were signed – another Marx original.

We had a great time Gerhard, thank you for a memorable morning.

Back in Oudtshoorn, our car had not only been serviced, buty it had also been given a thourough wash and brush up – we could hardly recognise it!

Tomorrow we’re back looking for plants in habitat.

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