January 2017 Special Entry

Happy New Year! I'm glad we are moving forward on this bright first day of January. The year of 2016 was certainly a year of change for the "Cactus Club." We will continue to change and plan to be stronger in 2017. Circumstances beyond our control will force us to forego a January meeting. The new Board hopes to have a planning meeting in mid-January to get things back on track. We're looking at a year full of exciting programs, a few outings, and events.

While we did not have a net growth in membership this year, a few new members were added and some of our former members trickled back into our meetings. The list of our current memberships is in the grueling Word Find puzzle passed out at the Holiday event. We also know that we lost one of our former members, Sam Valenti. Many of us remember him well and treasure the memories of his contributions and the way he ran those raffles! I especially treasure the visits Stan Korabell and I made together to Sam's home garden. This was the scene: three people in dirty jeans sitting on lawn chairs surrounded by little tools and buckets of dirt, sweat pouring.... while potting cuttings and offsets of everything. I'm not sure if the smiles and giggles outnumbered the "darns" and "ouches" we murmured every time we "got stuck."

We should take a little time to think about and acknowledge the programs we've enjoyed this year. Every meeting offered the opportunity to learn something new or different about gardening and friendships.

January: ML Robinson, Propagation and Grafting

 February: Dennis Swartzell, Tree Pruning





 March: Angela O'Callaghan, Small Garden Spaces 

 April: Jan Emming, Water Harvesting





 June: Summer Pot Luck, Hosted by Rick Holmes

 September: Stephenie Thomas, A Local's Outdoor Adventures


 October: Tom Glavich, Gasteria, Haworthia, other Succulent Monocots

 November: Eunice Thompson, Baja Outer Islands







December: Annual Holiday Dinner, put together by Tina Bates, Susan Kent, Bob Middag, Phil Lawton, and Stephenie Thomas and family.


And so, we start another year. December and January are especially wonderful for Cactus Gardeners. We have joyful bloomers in our collections every month of the year! Hopefully we've all done the "Cactus Rap" and the plants are wrapped or we've jostled them to shelter. The cold rain is so very harmful to the root structures of the cactus that remain in the ground or pots too large to carry. At my home, we have not had hail or sleet (yet). That at least means that the plants that are not wrapped so far will not be blemished. We all have had or still have Schlumbergera blooming indoors.  I'm seeing some CRAZY Superbus Penstemon and Aloe sporting a few blooms. Even crazier, I have a few slender "white" spine cereus cactus that must have a southern hemisphere fixation. Yep they are starting to bloom. These plants were purchased in 6" pots from our dear friend and supporter Cliff Meng at least 10 years ago. Some of them are 3+' tall now and are clustering smaller ones at the base! Another bloomer in my yard right now is  Lonicera x americana 'Pam's Pink' (Pam's Pink Honeysuckle.) This desert adapted shrub was introduced to me by Schilling Horticulture and Mountain States Wholesale Nursery (a favorite of our speakers). This is  a  nice shrub that can be trellised or left to form a sizeable shelter for birds. The blossoms are aromatic and hummingbirds as well as plant lovers are drawn to it especially early in the morning. Try one in your desert garden!

We look forward to seeing each other again in February! Until then, email updates and photos about your gardens and adventures to, or on facebook at


2017-2018 Officers: Jay Nietling, President; Stephanie Thomas and Victor Lindsey,Co- Vice Presidents; Vicki Yuen, Treasurer; VACANT, Secretary. At large board members: President Pro Tem: Susan Kent, NGCI Interface: Bob Middag, and others to be appointed by the Board.



Members please watch your email for a special December 1 announcement.

The Vice Presidents assure me that we will be back on our regular meeting schedule in January on the 5th.

We wish that we "plant and desert people" emerge from the political fray we've had this year and get back to plants and the desert!

We hope everyone has enjoyed a Thanksgiving in your own tradition, and we wish a safe and warm holiday season to one and all.

Go for a hike on Christmas Day! It's invigorating! (Christmas Tree Pass?)