Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pinky and the brain! "Springtime...for Germany..."

Hans Graf surveying his realm!
I was going to write new lyrics to the wonderful theme song of the musical within a musical in the Producers (everybody's favorite Mel Brooks, no?) but it was just too tacky...but I have something even more tacky to provide the overarching theme here, and that's Pinky and the Brain! I have realized in retrospect that one of the great cartoons of my childhood has resurfaced, so to speak, in Germany...wait and see!

Old poster on the wall for Kasteengarten
This faded poster on the wall in the headhouse spoke a bit to the history of this has not come about overnight....I give you the link once again here, if you didn't get it on my last post...I warn you, if you are an American you will be very jealous (many of his plants are not available state side as yet...)

Opuntia erinacea form--possibly trichophora

Husky young gallons

I'll buy it! (an aurea form)

More gems just starting to grow!

Lots of Echinocereus and other ball cacti as well...

Two Pediocactus simpsonii--bet they're from the Front Range, warmed the cockles of me heart...

Container plantings everywhere

Token representation of tender cacti as well...this is a hardy cactus nursery after all!

Finally! PINKY!

Little clarification: when I wrote this blog I'd forgotten that there were TWO cylindropuntias: the true 'Pinky' is the smaller one on the left. Hans has also introduced a much larger one (on the right) which is Cylindropuntia  imbricata 'Marco' The text below has them confused--but once you look at them you can see the difference: just keep it in mind when you read my florid descriptions. Thanks to Gerhard Gussmagg in Austria for catching my mistake!
I don't know the history of this incredible form of Cylindropuntia imbricata--but it is one of the really outstanding plants featured by Kakteengarten! And boy, do they grow a lot of them. It appears to be somewhat dwarfer than typical imbricata. We have specimens growing in Denver, and some day I shall report on how it does here--can't imagine it won't thrive: it's awesome! The name is doubly apropos, since it will no doubt conquer the world. (check out the cartoon if you don't know what I'm talking about). We'll get to "the brain" in a minute. (I re-linked the cartoon, since I'm quite sure you didn't check it out the first time!)
MORE Pinky

And even MORE pinky...This really IS 'Pinky'
And even MORE 'Pinky'
This may not actualloy be 'Pinky' but a larger name yet I don't think..[I see I did recall there were two: this is definitely the bigger, salmon colored one: 'Marco': you really need both!]

Grusonia clavata 'Wicky' (crested)
So as not to waste time, here it is! THE BRAIN! What a terrific cultivar name this would make: Grusonia clavata 'Brainiac' say, Alas! If you read the comment by Die Wüstengärtner below you will realize it has a perfectly good cultivar name: 'Wicky' is what this should be called--and shall henceforward in my books  Wouldn't you know, there is a colossal irony here: Wickie is also a cartoon character! You may know it as Opuntia clavata, but Rob Wallace will convince you too that it should be segregated, so just give up. Again, I did not get the story of when or how and who discovered this: I was too stunned gazing at hundreds upon hundreds of what has to be one of the most extraordinary hardy cactus ever--one that grows a day's drive from my home, and which (as far as I know) is unknown in America. Leastwise till Hans sent us a bunch a year ago.

More Brains! (or 'Wicky' to be correct!)

and MORE cacti!

A wonderful chocolate flavored prickly pear..not sure which one, alas.
Gerhard Gussmagg from Austria sent me a very gentle email with several corrections to this blog: he says that this goes by Opuntia rhodantha ssp. pisciformis in the trade in Europe, which he does not believe is a valid name: but now you know what to look for. I believe it is similar to what we grow as Opuntia 'Dark Knight'--but without growing them together I'm not sure I'd buy that! Whatever it is--we NEED it!

Cati outdoors as well

I have to say, it was an eye opener for me to see so many superbly grown cacti: had I not actually gone to Oettingen and seen with my own eyes, I would not have thought it possible that this quantity of cacti were being grown commercially--and grown with such outstanding culture. Hans puts American cactus nurseries to shame.

More views of the nursery

So well grown!

An opuntia selected at Hamburg Botanic gardens (I believe)
 It is mildly galling to me that the Germans have been doing so much work for so long that is so little known or appreciated in America where these grow wild. So many Americans regard prickly pears with scorn--and yet throughout Hans' nursery I found cultivars named after this or that botanic garden 'Freiburg', 'Munich' and here--'Hamburg': but can we find these in America? As John Belushi would say..."NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Shame on us!

And more.

Stooping lovingly to check it out...

I think you're getting the point!

Oh yes, he grows yuccas too--this one is Yucca gloriosa 'Walbristar'...which is really quite tender and used in containers in colder regions. (Thanks, Gerhard, for the correction!)

I believe this was a Maihueniopsis ovata type...he had a few South Americans [Gerhard Gussmag believes this could be M. platyacantha (P&W 6473, ex CJH 380] One last loving look at one of the greenhouses: Thank you Hans!
 Looking at these pictures brings back three of the most wonderful days: I wish I could share them all with you: Hans took us to a wonderful local castle, and to a large estate where a huge fair was being staged (full of rare trees and wonderful gardens). He took time out of his extremely busy schedule--probably the busiest week in his year, to drive through the woods where I saw many classic European wildflowers for the first time (Anemone ranunculoides, Asarum europaeum and much much more)...I should perhaps share those with you--but then I've not really posted anything on most of the great gardens we visited that trip either (Frankfurt,Wurzburg, Hamburg, Munich)...oh least I've given you a pretty good overview of one nursery (among hundreds of great German nurseries): I, for one, can't wait to go back! Meanwhile, I'll watch another of those "Pinky and the Brain" Youtubes..they are fun don't you think?


  1. Can you tell me where in Germany this is ?? Would these survive in an outside eniverment ? Germany is quite more humid , and rainy than Colorado . I have tried to grow cacti in my mother's garden in the Schwartzwald , with little success , it is just tooo wet . Even in a trough with gravel only ...any Ideas?? ....Happy New year ... Domenique

  2. Kakteengarten is about an hour due west of Munich on the border of Bavaria. Of course, he grows most of the plants in the greenhouse--but he also has some outside gardens. We saw cacti growing outside in many gardens. The best ones (Wurzburg) covered them in the winter to protect from excess rain. The others used banked slopes, fast draining soil with lots of gravel mulch: and they have to feed a lot due to the soil being leached. Given care and a good site, you can grow cacti all sorts of places you shouldn't! I've seen pictures of stunning cactus gardens all over Europe on Facebook cactus pages--they've figured it out!

  3. I’m a fan of “Pinky and the Brain” too!
    The Corynopuntia clavata Cristata is called ‘Wickie’ (he is a highly inteligent viking and a cartoon as well!)

  4. Thanks for the clarification! I will change my blog content to reflect that. Now I have to look up 'Wickie'!

  5. I want them all! So many wonderful plants, and I agree what's with our under appreciating opuntias here in the USA?

  6. mpressum


    Hans Graf
    Lange-Mauer-Str. 9
    86732 Oettingen i.Bay.

    Telefon: +49 9082 8033
    Telefax: 09082 8034


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