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I gave my first talk to a US Cactus & Succulent Society on the first Sunday in March 2008 with ten days to kill between my Baja trip with Alain Buffel in February and another Baja trip with Cliff Thompson and Ian Woolnough to the end of the peninsula and back in March. Long Beach’s then President Eunice Thompson, was my hostess and showed me around plant sights in California Alto and told me how much she wanted to see the Succulent plants in Baja. As we had a spare space in the car she came along for the March trip.

The folks at Long Beach again made me very welcome. They had moved from the 2009 location to a new venue, where they never knew in advance in which room they would actually meet in the Community Centre of a gated community. Today we were shown into a huge gazebo, very unusual given my experience of February weather in the UK. Angie and I normally attend meetings at the Southampton Branch of the British Cactus & Succulent Society on the (relatively) warm UK South Coast. To put things into perspective, their February meeting on 3 February was cancelled due to snow and ice that would have made it difficult for the speaker to get to the hall and which would also have greatly reduced the number of members who could have attended.

But in sunny Long Beach this was not a problem, with temperatures touching 20 C. I was a little worried about the amount of day light for this afternoon meeting. Although it was not possible to black out the gazebo completely, the digital projector was good enough to allow a reasonable picture to be projected.

I recognised many faces and even managed a few names for what was either my third or fourth presentation here. I won’t mention any names here in case I overlook somebody. The meeting was well attended and as usual there were lots of plant and pots sales and a nice buffet of snacks provided by this month’s catering team from the membership list in advance to make sure that everyone takes a turn. There was an excellent table show, here called a mini show.

Eunice and I have taken some pictures of plants and their owners, after all they are all part of What I Saw Last Winter and will therefore feature in my 2015 talks in the UK. There are still some pictures on Eunice’s stick from some of the meetings and I will spend some time in March in the UK to add pictures to these pages. Please be patient!

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