Thursday, April 28, 2022

Best In Show! (Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society show, April 2022)

Weingartia saipiensis shown by Jackson Burkholder: the most spectacular blooming winner

I have had the privilege of seeing spectacular cactus shows all over Southern California--not to mention Philadelphia, Connecticut, Kansas City and Boston. (Although I have yet to attend the near mythical "Intercity Show"  in August at the Los Angeles Botanic Garden that has well over a thousand spectacular entries.) Wouldn't you know, last weekend was the first time in YEARS I had not entered a single plant in our Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society's show--and I think it was the best show ever (is there a connection?) I thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the Best in Show specimens! Do be sure to attend one of the dozens of shows across the USA and Canada (and likely Mexico as well). I know Great Britain does Cactus and Succulent shows superbly as well!

Over 1600 people attended the Show and Sale over the 3 day weekend--and most lingered over the Plant Show!

Lots of specimens to admire! And a steady stream of viewers

Sclerocactus cloverae (a rare perfectly grown native cactus) shown by Donald Barnett Sr., one of he coauthors of a book I reviewed on this blog a few posts ago: small world!

Of course, partly because of its rarity and large size--but mostly because it was grown so well, this specimen won a bevy of trophies as you can see including "Judge's Choice"! as well as first place for its grouping (Pediocactus, Sclerocactus etc)
Mammillaria spinossisima shown by J. Scott

In addition to a first in its class (Mammillaria) this won the coveted Dana Such award: one of our treasured members recently lost to cancer whose Mammillaria collection was the finest in our region.

Astrophytum asterias 'Kikko Lizard Skin' shown by Jack Clark

I like the pot almost as much as the gnarly cactus! This one winning the Jim Sykes trophy--another treasured past member who participated for decades showing fabulous cacti: this was deemed the best cactus in the whole show.

Haworthia emelyae Major Hybrid Shown by Russell Lopresti

Another coveted ribbon and a trophy named for Mary Ann Heacock, the founder of our club and one of my mentors and beloved friend who passed away at nearly 100 years old a few decades ago. She was a world renowned Haworthia collector, and the trophy is for the best Haworthia.

Haworthia emelyae Major Hybrid Shown by Russell Lopresti

What a stunning irridescent color on this! Russell seems to have a habit of winning this trophy!...

Euphorbia aeruginosa shown by Alex MacMillan

This won the Lynn Wilson trophy for best succulent. I love looking at the past winners whose names are engraved on the trophy for many years back--so many great growers in the club whose memory is cherished.

Echinocereus coccineus grown outside in a pot by Ken Sipsey

This perfect specimen is 20 years old: it won the Jerry Sochor trophy for best winter hardy cactus at this show.
A 25 year old Euphorbia platyclada shown by Aubree Murray

Another winner of multiple ribbons--"Best Novice Succulent" and "Judges Choice"--it's obvious Aubree will not be in the Novice Class for very long!
Euphorbia ambovombensis shown by Zachary Foulke 

Another multiple ribbon winner--with a lavish "Best Caudiciform" for the show went to another different exhibitor.

A breathtaking specimen of Ariocarpus fissuratus shown by Keith Woesterhoff

And a winner of multiple ribbons and the prized "BEST OF SHOW" for the year went to this truly spectacular specimen of a fabulous native American cactus.

 I concentrated on the trophy winners and those with special ribbons above, but you can see there were plenty of fantastic specimens and blue ribbon winners in many classes I simply don't have the time or patience to depict individually: wish I did they deserve it!

Notice that every one of the winners above was a different grower: what is perhaps most surprising is that some our very best growers were not represented in the on the trophy benches--a tribute to the depth of talent in the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society, and in the incredible organizers of the show: Roswitha Moehring and Harriet Olds in particular have put in countless hours preparing for the show, passing plants, preparing the trophies and ribbons and making it come together.

And dozens of club members stepped forth with plants on which they have lavished years--often decades--of care and attention. These plant shows are spectacular! I regret not entering this year and will be doubly anxious to groom some specimens that I think might have merited to join these at the head table (something that I've achieved a few times in the past...with great pride!)

Panayoti Kelaidis (left) and Scott Burkholder (right)

And I have to give a special note of appreciation to the Chairman of the whole event and President of the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society--Scott Burkholder. We both channeled wearing our "brotherly" shirts on Sunday [honest--we didn't coordinate it--we both have a LOT of different shirts: it had to be fate]. As president of the local Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, we partnered for the first time in selling plants at this sale, largely thanks to Scott's open mindedness and big heart.

Scott's not only president of CCSS, and Show chair, he produces the newsletter and chaired the whole show: I sincerely hope some of our CCSS members step up to take over some of his responsibilities--a club that can produce that kind of show ought to have more than one great leader!

Meanwhile I am stunned that having produced nearly 1000 blog posts on Prairiebreak alone, I am shocked that I've never "done" our local CCSS show before. I've marveled and attended these shows for over a half century. Most of the trophies in this show are people who were dear friends. I blush to think I am by far the most senior member of the club (I first attended a meeting nearly 60 years ago, not long after the club was formed as a teenager accompanying my brother-in-law who was at the height of his succulent enthusiasm back then), I didn't become an active member until the 1980's, but I cherish the thought that I was "there" back before Denver Botanic Gardens built it's Education buildings where we've met for decades (the club originally met at the old "Horticulture House" next to the Byer-Evans Mansion in the very epicenter of our city. I may be one of very few people living who attended meetings in that building or who even knew it existed!)

Such are the joys of getting older--and sticking to things like cacti, succulents...and in my case also alpines, steppe plants heck, the whole dang plant kingdom! I have been truly blessed to have been an acolyte of Mother Flora all my life.


  1. Love it! Wish I could have been there this year.

  2. Love this posting seeing my old friends and spectacular plants. Special kudos to Scott!

  3. Some really gorgeous specimens. Love the shirts.


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