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California is larger than you might think.

After a leisurely breakfast, we made a 2 hr 30 drive to El Cajon, east of San Diego, to visit  Juergen Menzel a.k.a. Cactus Jordi on the internet. Google images for Cactis Jordi will give you a marvelous selection of images of beautiful cultivated plants, mostly raised from seed. Out in the garden a large Welwitschia mirabilis had taken 12 years from sowing to grow to this size, providing some indication of similar conditions between California and its native homeland in Namibia

There were also old friends, plants seen on previous visits that were looking good! The two plants labelled Eulychnia castanea spiralis that had flowered since I had last seen it (article in the pipeline) seemed to revert back towards ‘normal’ but still with a long way to go. Very intriguing plants. It was great to see that Spring had arrived, at least in southern California with many cacti and succulents providing a great display of flowers.

All too soon it was time to go – we had to be at the Gates C&S Society at the San Bernardino County Museum at Redlands, near Riverside. Woody Minnich was giving an alternative presentation on his trip to Madagascar, this time pt2, featuring some marvelous shots of the baobab trees. Woody had invited to join him and Newsletter Editor Buck Hemmenway, his wife Yvonne and her mother and aunt for a pre-meeting bite to eat.

C&S Societies are as much about socialising and discovering what members grow and the conditions that challenge them. I lost count of how many members were there but I guess 40-50. Eunice and I were asked to judge the table show and a magnificent bunch were again on display. This time a number of Bushman’s Candles were my favourites. Fortunately the plants in the two classes were owned by the same people, so it did not matter greatly which came first and which came second, although for all we knew, as some of the plants were entered by a couple, there might be extreme competition between the two of them.

We then enjoyed ‘snacks’ – we could have missed the pre-talk meal and not gone hungry! All these activities had taken their time and my mind was turning to all the things still to be done before my flight to Mexico City the next day. Rather than sneak out during the middle of woody’s talk, we said our goodbyes to Woody and to Buck and Yvonne – Good luck in South Africa!!

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