Friday, March 1, 2024

The commander and the captain


"The Commander"
Those of us lucky enough to travel with Karel du Toit (above) and his long time buddy, Steve Brack (below) know the joys of traveling with "the Captain and the Commander"...

"The Captain"

Steve is renowned among cactus lovers around the world for founding Mesa Gardens (still in existence--Steve sold it several years ago and it continues thriving under new management). In addition to cacti, Mesa Gardens offered a wide spectrum of Mesembryanthemaceae (ice plants) and other succulents--I have read that over 10,000 accessions had been offered at one point or another.

These were sold worldwide--obviating the need to collect rare succulents since nursery grown ones were far less scarred and more easily available. I doubt anyone has done more to get rare cacti into cultivation than Steve. He began traveling with Karel over twenty years ago--they've traveled dozens of times together. Karel credits Steve with fanning the flames of his interest in native plants. Today, Karel is an authority with an astonishing knowledge of the native South African flora--not to mention folkways and the cultural history of his country. His life story is the stuff legends are made of (once a professional Rugby player with the Springbok, he was chief detective of the province of Namaqualand, arresting dozens of poachers and confiscating incredible quantities of rare poached succulents--that's just the tip of the iceberg!)

We in Denver are extraordinarily lucky to have the Captain and Commander both speak at "Out of Africa"--an afternoon symposium on March 17 in Sturm Auditorium at Denver Botanic Gardens' Freyer Newman Center. Sponsored by the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (members of those two organizations are admitted free)--they are opening up this symposium to the public at a very modest cost of $12 (and less for DBG members--see webpage for details)

Speaking of web-page, scan this QR code to sign up! See you there!

P.S. Adam Harrower--horticulturist extraordinaire from Kirstenbosch will be the third presenter: he's awesome too!

Adam Harrower

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