Laurie Poulson first became interested in cacti when he was a child and his passion developed from there. In this talk he gave us a tour of different gardens all growing cacti and succulents outside. The first garden we visited was Roy’s garden and he had totally converted his front garden to growing these plants. He had cacti growing that one would never think could be hardy outside, the Opuntias (prickly Pears) were the main plants but he also had Agave, though hardy it is important not to get snow in the crown, Echinops, Sedums which we are more familiar with , Echiveria and others. His secret was well drained soil and gravel as they do not like wet feet.
The next garden was Mike’s garden and to be different he kept his collection in a cold frame, once again on a gravel base, he had a cacti called pediocacti which are cold hardy from the Mountains and Prairies of North America . The next garden had a claim to fame having been on Gardeners Word and this was Melissa and Keith’s garden in Norfolk. They bought a deserted quarry and transformed it into a garden for their cacti, succulents and other exotic plants. Melissa does the gardening bit while Keith does the maintenance and spends a lot of time making frames to protect the plants over winter and to keep off the winter wet. In spite of all their efforts they did have one winter when they lost all their plants but have since replaced their stock. We took a brief visit to Laurie’s garden where he has many of his plants on staging and in his greenhouses. Many of the plants have beautiful flowers or really attractive foliage particularly the sempervivums (house leeks) and Echiverias, and the cactus flowers are wonderful and according to Laurie not difficult to grow. They are not subject to many pests and diseases but can get red spider mite and mealy bug. Sometimes the dreaded vine weevil will get into the pot and eat the roots. Regular potting will prevent this. The Cacti and Succulent Society regularly have a stall at the the Gorleston Cliff top Festival 28th and 29th July.