From the Hat
UPDATE: Thanks to Harvey Welton, all plants in this post now have names; they’re in parens, italicized.
Our visit to Mexican Hat Cactus nursery was a purposeful one. I needed to find a ‘statement’ specimen for the new cactus area at the base of our RR shed. Bruce and Bonnie assured me that I would find something special at Mex Hat and they were right. Not only was I able to find that perfect cactus, but it was at an amazingly low price. Of course, that doesn’t mean I bought only that; I also picked up just a few more plants I found irresistible. I think you’ll agree they are stand-outs. A for-instance: look at the fantastic plant (Monvillea spegazzinii) above. Not only is this example so serpent-like in its appearance and movement, but it’s also got terrific cresting, and flowers … I’m crazy to see what these blossoms will look like once they’ve opened. It’s a terrific match-up with this speckled 50s-era ceramic pot. The pot’s unglazed pink-terra-cotta insides are perfectly complementing the unopened buds; note how the bud in the foreground could easily be Cleopatra’s killer asp’s head. There’s more …
From the left: This great, crested specimen (Opuntia subulata mostrose minor) would seem equally comfortable under the ocean as in outer space (probably menacing Will Robinson). It seems to be using the tendrils on its edges to reach out, and thereby grow in newer, more fantastical ways. Next, a really pretty hanging example of a member of the stapelia family (caralluma hexagona), with a cluster of gorgeous blooms. The contrast between the pale gray-green of it’s plump leaves and the richly colored flowers is striking … though not as striking as its smell. Let’s just say that if rotten meat and vomit had a love child, this is what it would smell like …ugh! …Still, I had to have it, if only as a living example of how pretty isn’t always nice. Lastly, if Muno of Yo Gabba Gabba decided to go green and have a family reunion, this (Opuntia subulata crest) is what it’d look like. These lime green knob-heads were just too funny to leave behind. Again, each pot was chosen to set-off the plant inside, either through texture or color. I love ’em all!
Here’s a close-up of the malodorous beauty. When we arrived back home Bonnie quipped that having this in our new Element was one way to rid it of its new car smell, and boy, was she right! Not put off at all by the smell were local flies of various types; they wouldn’t stay away and I had to keep shooing them to get this shot.
And, here’s the object of my desire: a large, low, shapely number with great curving pads, tons of ‘apples’ and, according to a fellow shopper, a propensity to grow rapidly — My dream cactus (Opuntia robustus)! … I know you’re out there wondering why I haven’t listed the names of these beauties, and I have a good reason. See, when I’m in the presence of awesome succulents I kind of lose it: I have a loud rushing sound in my head, and I feel kind of dizzy; later, it’s hard for me to remember what I was told, and all I can come up with is Latinate multi-syllabic gobbledygoop (Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m loathe to ID something here and get it wrong). So, my hope is that Mex Hat’s owner and resident expert, Harvey Welton, will read this post and email me names for them. If, and when, he does I’ll pass them on. Side note: Mex Hat is not only a local source for seeds, and succulents and cacti propagated from them, but it’s also an (uncredited) source for those special entries in local judged shows .. often the winners! It’s not a surprise that this would be the case. Welton’s love and care for these plants is obvious when speaking with him and they seem to show love in return by growing in amazing ways. But, the fact that he’s willing to pass on that love, without regard for whether he gets credit for it or not, is very special. I’m hoping that by showing you these pictures some of that love is passed on further. Visit Mexican Hat and I know you’ll feel it, too!
Mexican Hat Cactus Nursery, 11152 Palm Terrace Lane, Riverside, CA 92505; for appointment: 951.687.9055