Monday, March 29, 2010

Colorado Cactus and Succlent Society's Show and Plant Sale by Dusty M

Specialized plant groups can be valuable resources to gardeners who want to explore subdivisions of the gardening world. Here in Colorado there are a host of organizations with special focus, from African violets and orchids to daylilies and dahlias, from water gardening to carnivorous plants. In these groups one can tap into a wealth of information, practical experience, and passion for particular plants and styles of gardening. Most of them are also a source of plants.

This weekend took me to the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society's show and plant sale at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I'm planning a non-irrigated ornamental plot in my backyard and expect cacti and succulents to play a prominent role. So this seemed a good chance to get started.

First I had a look at the society's show, where 128 entries in several dozen cactus and succulent categories were on display. For the most, these were the non-hardy plants that live in containers and spend winters indoors here in our climate. (Those that grow outdoors, of course, aren't very amenable to being dug up in March and brought in for the show.) While some may not think of a cactus as an object of beauty, this was a lovely display. Though fearsome to the touch, many were quite appealing to the eye.

In the neighboring plant sale room another, much larger, kind of show was taking place. Here thousands of cacti and succulents among probably hundreds of species and varieties were offered for sale by their growers. Again, most were of the indoor, non-hardy type. My choices for outdoor planting were but a couple dozen. And the plants on sale were mostly in the small, starter size. I didn't want to think about how many years I'll have to wait to see their colorful blooms. I selected about a dozen cacti and succulents, including a couple of durable hens and chickens that I know I can count on to fill in some space as I wait on the cacti.

For more flavor of the event, go to the cactus and succulent society's web site,  where there are two short videos of the 2008 show and sale.

I plan to get a few more plants for my new bed on April 24. That's when the local rock garden group, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, holds its plant sale at the Denver Botanic Garden.