Oxford Branch

British Cactus and Succulent Society

Jan W Hogmouth, the Dreaming Spaer of Oxford,
foretells the future of your collection.

ARIES March 21st - April 19th
The Sun enters the House of Aries at the Vernal Equinox, the start of the cactus watering season. Growers should not Ram the plants into the water Butt but should coax the roots into activity with a light watering. A good spray to clean the spiders' poo off the stomata will be beneficial.

TAURUS April 20th - May 20th
There are still cold periods here in Northern Europe. Growers may be Pawing the Ground to bring their cacti on, but they should not rush like a Bull at a gate with the watering can. However, the plants will gladly accept fertiliser, so organic growers can start putting Cowpats in the microwave.

GEMINI May 21st - June 20th
The Show season is in full swing, with the Twin attractions of magnificent old plants and magnificent old growers on display. Most cacti should be in flower; Weingartias have twin buds per areole. Lucky Lithops, ready for water, will have twin heads where there was one last year.

CANCER June 21st - July 22nd
Little creatures with Claws are at their most active. Growers will be reminded to dose their plants with insecticide, and the EU to ban whatever insecticide they use. Some plants will slow down. This is their response to the short nights when CAM plants have little time for gas exchange.

LEO July 23rd - August 22nd
In the hot season all possible ventilation must be provided. Growers will leave the doors open, find Cats or their mementoes inside, Roar in fury, and hastily construct rickety secondary doors out of netting and flimsy timber strips.

VIRGO August 23rd - September 22nd
Mealy bugs and red spider mite are breeding Parthenogenetically. New growers and owners of new greenhouses will accept with foolish gratitude cuttings and seedlings from their elders if not betters. They will soon learn the meaning of the old saw: "Greenhouses only come in one size".

LIBRA September 23rd - October 22nd
On Balance, it is better to stop watering the cacti during this period, except for Ariocarpus whose main growing season it is. Meanwhile, many of the winter growers are waking up, plants as well as horticulturalists. Efficient Branch Secretaries will be completing their next year's programme.

SCORPIO October 23rd - November 21st
The weather in early November often has a Sting in its Tail. Late blackberries are rotting on the brambles, Othonnas and Tylecodons are shouting "Hooray, it's cold and damp!" and growers are wishing they had had the foresight to have checked their heating equipment earlier on.

SAGITTARIUS November 22nd - December 21st
Most growers would like to give merry Santas the St Sebastian treatment, but will take refuge in the greenhouse. Good growers will clean the glass, staging and floor; hardy growers will repot all their plants; and the vast majority of us will just fiddle and end up with lots of rooted cuttings.

CAPRICORN December 22nd - January 19th
The middle of January is the time to give the Dudleyas a thorough soaking. I do not Kid or act the giddy Goat - just watch them take off. Some of the winter growers can take a short rest, since the daylight is not sufficient for them to photosynthesise.

AQUARIUS January 20th - February 18th
A time for parsimony with the Watering Can; also a time for moaning about the BCSS, the younger generation, and the Hose Pipe Ban. A minority will write articles, read books, plan how to improve their collections, and clean out their Water butts.

PISCES February 19th - March 20th
Many of us will feel like Fish out of water. Happiness is best sought by sowing lots and lots of seed and watching it come up. The prophet and seer will visualise terrible overcrowding; the average grower will be taken by surprise and be forced to donate their surplus plants for Branch funds.

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