Oxford Branch

British Cactus and Succulent Society

by Kid Glochid

There are always too many articles telling the innocent how to get started in the hobby; but you never see any articles advising the experienced how to renounce their addiction. Until now!

For years I accepted getting spiked and slashed as an inevitable consequence of protecting my poor plants from damage. Gloves, rolled-up newspaper, tongs, bargepoles were forsworn. Only naked fingers had the necessary sensitivity. The occupational disease Cactus Hand, where the epidermis grows over an embedded layer of spine fragments, was, like the stigmata of saints, to be admired as a certificate of succulent goodness. Not any more! I hate and resent being pricked.

The first thing you have to do is to sell, donate or compost your cacti. Persuade yourself that Opuntias are obnoxious, Mammillarias are miserable, Parodias are pathetic, Rebutias are rubbish. Cerei? You canít beÖ Think about all the eccentric characters who grow these plants. This will stiffen your resolve to reduce your collection. And when one of your old plants appears on the show bench twice as big and three times as healthy as when you had it, convince yourself that you were never cut out to be a cactus grower. What were you doing at that show, anyway?

Now you are left with the representatives of only a few dozen genera of the smaller cacti. Easy to dispose of, surely. All you have to do now is to get rid of Haworthias, Mesembs, caudiciforms and a miscellany of stocks and stones. (Asclepiads can be relied on to get rid of themselves). Simply hawk the odd trayful of plants round talks, shows, conventions and the like. Naturally you will not purchase any of the plants that are offered for sale in such places. Nor will you buy anything at the nurseries you visit. Remember, you are only looking to see what you would have bought if you were still interested in the hobby.

Ideally you should insult all your friends. This is more difficult than it sounds, because you have been insulting them for years, just as they have been insulting you, so they wonít take any notice. But unless you can keep them at armís length, they will find all sorts of ways of filling up your empty staging, usually with plants that they donít want to keep. Perhaps you had better repot your remaining plants into bigger containers to stop them doing that to you.

Now you need to dispose of your books and your old journals. This will make room for the latest specialist volume from Keith Larkin. The only reason you bought it was that if you had waited it would have got more expensive on account of foreign currency exchange movements, and you wanted to see what might have interested you if you had still been in the hobby.

So now you are well on the way to giving up the hobby altogether. Concentrate on how much happier you will be without plants, books or friends. Maybe you will take up boozing or rollerskating or polygamy. The world is your oyster. As for me, I do not rollerskate. But I have taken up the bagpipes, so I do not have any friends. I am almost totally free of the cactus and succulent addiction, and you can examine my hands if you donít believe me.

In fact, next year will be the last time I sow seed. I do not intend to go to any National Conventions after 2010, 2012 will definitely be my last National Show, and in 2015 I may ask my wife if she will come back.