Succulent Show Stand-outs
My reason for attending the Gates Cactus & Succulent Society‘s show and sale this weekend was not to buy plants, I didn’t need any; rather it was to take in the juried plant show. Held in a separate tented area the show was very well-attended and there was no lack of entries. But I had notes, exacerbated by the fact that I was not feeling tip-top upon arrival. First, the show tent was very dark. Saturday was already overcast, so an opaque tent only added to an overall dim/dank feel. Second, entries were presented too closely together; making photography difficult. This caused viewers to be on top of each other as well, something I did not relish. Also pain-inducing: A winner in several categories expounding on her entries in a voice that channeled both Truman Capote and Angelica Pickles. Try though I might, I could not shake this winner and her entourage, nor could I shake the lady in a fuchsia bedazzled sweatshirt who insisted on inserting herself into my photos! As I said, I was not feeling well. So, I took a deep breath and shot when I could find an opening, moving quickly. Honestly I didn’t have much hope for the photos. But whattaya know, they weren’t bad — hooray for auto-whatever digital cameras! What didn’t work out were my efforts at shooting the entry labels next to individual plants. Hence this post will not contain plant names; rather it will feature photos of the plants I found most interesting, in categories of my own devising. Let’s get started, I’ve got a lot to show you.
MY GATES SHOW WINNERS
At least three of the plants above were overall winners; in fact, the tallest of them (lower left) was the Oddball Plant winner. I’m not sure I would’ve picked it since there were far odd-er entries under the tent but no one asked me. Still, it’s pretty bizarro, kind of like a tall root wearing a feathered hat. Moving clockwise from it: A seeming snap-off, -on puffball cactus; what appeared to be an ancient and lovely gnarled bonsai; a perfect dome of albino rosettes; a brainy offering surpassed only by the vessel that contains it. Let’s keep it moving, there’s more . . .
THORNY & PRICKLY
Many, if not all, of these entries are cactus and most are small. Their diversity in color, shape and form is delightful and their needles a true wonder of nature. From meatballs for masochists to standoffish pincushions; whether striated, tufted or elongated, these plants share a defense mechanism that’s as beautiful as it is hazardous.
The plants in this group are both beautiful and strange, with tuber-like aboveground roots that sprout with leafy foliage. Much diversity here as well, with roots that resemble everything from hand grenades to chubby infants to extraterrestrial creatures; foliage, too, runs the gamut with the occasional bright blossom.
Spiky, furry, claw-like, stony, metallic, sharp, smooth; I chose these plants for this category because of their vast textural range. Colors are also on a wide spectrum with cool blues and grays, deep purple and every type of green. I couldn’t help but touch many of these plants, the same with their pots and vessels . . .
Weirdos all, these plants were both silly and fantastic. The top two resemble side dishes for a Martian’s Thanksgiving dinner, while the next one down has stumped me completely. The next photo could be dim sum topped with pickled ginger, while the last photo appears be the carcass of a headless creature at the moment it was transmogrified into a plant.
The Gates Cactus & Succulent Society has surely benefitted from the energy and membership of Buck Hemenway and his wife Yvonne. From complete newbies to masters of succulent propagation, Buck and Yvonne have been members of the GCSS for 20 years. This June they will move to Calitzdorp, South Africa, to live in the land from which many succulents originated. Always friendly, and willing to share their time and information, the Hemenways will surely be missed. Click here for the GCSS website.