The Cactus and Succulent Garden has a long history — you can tell by just looking at all the very large plants growing there, but its recent history began several years ago when a single volunteer took the Cactus and Succulent Garden under her wing. She had learned to love cactus and succulents when she began to collect 2” cactus and succulents which sat on her windowsills in her home in central Pennsylvania. This experience inspired her to adopt the Garden that she saw was clearly suffering greatly from neglect.
First, the weeds had to be conquered, which was not an easy task. There were many weeds of many varieties to be pulled, and crawling between plants covered with spikes of various lengths was a challenge, but she quickly learned some tricks to avoid the hazards.
Some months later the volunteer was joined by two friends who also delighted in watching these beautiful, somewhat eccentric plants emerge from the undergrowth and begin to flower. The three volunteers now work every Monday and Friday morning in the Garden, weather permitting.
With all three at work the weeds disappeared, and they began to prune and/or divide many of the plants to improve their appearance, and reduce crowding and overtaking their neighbors.
All that pruning resulted in many, many “cuttings” [also known as pups], which the three volunteers saw as an opportunity to propagate more plants. One curious thing about cactus and succulents is they love to grow, and ultimately each cutting that was taken became another plant! The three volunteers used the new plants to extend the boundaries of the garden, to replace failing plants and to sell plants at the Autumn Lights Festival to support the garden’s needs.
There is always more work to be done at the Garden. After each rainy season the weeds come back in full force, plants get bigger and need pruning or have reached the end of their marvelous lives and there is more space for the young pups.
The three volunteers urge you to commit yourself to one of the gardens — what a pleasure it is! And stop by the Cactus and Succulent Garden to appreciate these remarkable plants. Their colors, shapes and glorious flowers are diverse and unique.