More new cacti!!

So, I bought a couple of plants from a little old lady yesterday. She didn’t know what species they were, and I’m not sure either. They are in pretty bad shape. I’m really hoping that a cactus nerd will just stumble across my blog today and give me some advice on what these cacti are and how I can help them.

This one is my favourite. I’m hoping it will make a really nice column for my new cacti garden. It looks pretty sick, and is quite soft and spongy to the touch. It was buried at the back of a pile of old plant pots, so I think it is sun deprived and dehydrated. I don’t know what the brown splotches are. I think it may be a Trichocereus. What do you think?

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This one is pretty cool also, though it is waterlogged and was in the shade. I don’t know what species it is. Any suggestions?

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These are ones I didn’t really want, but she made me take them. An Opuntia something, and what I suspect may be a Euphorb.

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Oh yeah, and this poor baby…


Any help with i.d. or with how to help them back to health would be immensely appreciated!


Okay, so here are the mature plants that I got the pups from in the last post. I’m not sure how old they are, some of them look to be quite established. I did not find any fallen pups under this plant. It’s pretty impressive.

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These little guys (below) were growing out of pockets of mulch that had collected in the large cacti (above).


I did get a pup from this one, so if you recognize the genus I’d love to hear from you.

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There are two different species in the following photos. I didn’t find any pieces that had fallen off though. I really like them, especially the wavy one.   If you know what any of these are, please tell me 🙂

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These (below) were actually in someones yard. I love the large cacti, so beautiful. It’s probably about 15cm/6ft diameter. I took photos, and have asked to speak to the gardener of the household who will be home in a couple of days.

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Free baby cacti (and succulents, and broms)

Today, whilst taking a load of rubbish to the tip, I happened upon some poor abandoned babies left out to die. Actually, there was a small mountain of them, but I only have so much room in my garden, and the tip has a no ‘scavenging’ policy. Although, technically I was rescuing not scavenging. I rescued a bromeliad and some succulents. Note the cool white dots on the brom. Funny thing is, my friend was going to buy one of the flower-shaped succulents yesterday, but I said I was sure I could get a cutting from somewhere, and I did!

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On my way home I happened to pass some cacti growing by the side of the road. I’m going to go back and photograph them as I didn’t have my camera on me, but for now here are the cacti babies I obtained. I have no idea what they are, so if anyone has any idea, please please please let me know!

Is this a Trichocereus?

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No idea what this is….but it looks variegated. *edit* Could this be Euphorbia lactea? I’ll post some pics of the larger plants tomorrow.

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I have been allowed to enter the amazing world that is Cacti. Having been obsessed with plants for many years, I have never felt an interest for cacti. Until now, that is. I suddenly feel quite drawn to these amazingly weird looking plants (weird looking compared with the species in my vicinity), almost like they noticed me and invited me over….


My very first cacti. I think it’s a Matucana madisoniorum. I got this from Bunnings, along with two Lithops and a Pleiospilos nellii.

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The Lithops (above) and Pleiospilos (right). Now hooked, I went to the markets this-morning in search of cacti.

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The only cacti stall, above.

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My new babies, above, will have a garden created for them in a sunny spot that is protected from rain by the eaves of my house. Although I do not yet know much about cacti, I know they are from arid environments, so should fill this spot quite well. I am in awe of their beauty, but as yet unsure of their i.d. They were labelled by the woman I bought them from and I think their i.d’s are correct, but if they are mis-labelled and you recognize this, please let me know! Also, there are two species which were not labelled (from a different vendor), so if you know what they are, please let me know 🙂


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I saw this guy and had to have him. His label says Gymnocalycium horridispinum (above). I think it’s i.d is correct.


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Trichocereus huascha (above).



Stenocactus multicostatus (above).



Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrosus’ (above).



Mammillaria elongata,  crest (above). It’s spines are quite yellow, but my camera does not show colour well.



Mammillaria Patoni (above).



Mammillaria prolifera (above), with one tiny hot-pink fruit showing.



Mammillaria guelzowiana (above).



This one (above) was not labelled. Is it a Dolichothele longimamma?


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These I got from a different vendor. I am guessing they too are some kind of Mammillaria. Anyone?

I will look into what traditional uses they have, and post on them when I find out. Well, that’s it for now. I hope to post more regularly, but I’ll see how I go.

Dye plants

Yesterday I decided I would like to play around with dyeing some fabric scraps, using plants.


I chose several locally growing species, and tested them by steeping in hot water, and imprinting them onto paper. The plants were covered with boiling water and left to sit for around 30 minutes. I also put some sprigs between paper and beat them with a rubber mallet, and then I ironed the top 1/3 of the paper, to see what effect heat would have. In the top left photo there is; Alphitonia excelsa, Davesia sp,. Bracken and Casuarina. The top right photo; Mistletoe (on Eucalypt), Cassytha filiformis, Stephania sp., and a Eucalypt sp. Bottom left is yellow bolete fungus that stains green when the inner surface is exposed to oxygen, a broad leafed (phyllode really) wattle, a different Eucalyptus, and a pink flowered lantana.

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I was hoping to get some nice shades of green, but I think I may have more experimenting to do. Below is the mistletoe that was growing on a Eucalyptus tree, which is showing a warm green colour.

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Although the lantana showed some nice greens on paper (below, left) it turned orange-brown when steeped in hot water, and the lovely green hues of Davesia did not show any colour when steeped in hot water.

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Cassytha (below) on the other hand turned orange in water.


I used India Flint’s method of rolling the leaves into cloth (to obtain a ‘print’) and then bottling them using the old canning methods to sterilize them (unfortunately I don’t have her books, I just peeked at them on google books , so I may have done this step differently to what is recommended, I’m not sure). This will allow any dyes present in the leaves to slowly stain the fabric, without growing mold (hopefully!). The water I used was rainwater, from a galvanized tank. I also added some aluminium foil and a splash of lemon juice, to act as a slow release mordant. I think my methods need some refinement, however, as the colours are not very strong.

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The little jar on the far right (yellow lid) holds the fungi. At first when I bottled it, it gave a lovely deep inky green, but after a while the liquid turned yellow. When I shook the jar it would turn green again for a little while. After boiling, it is now a murky yellow.

Next time I will boil up a heap of leaves and make a dye first, and them bottle my rolled fabric in that, so at least if the plants don’t impart colour directly, the fabric will be dyed by the dye bath in the jar.

Have you experimented with natural plant dyes? Any tips for me?

Botanic Gardens – Herb Garden

I recently began volunteering at a local community herb garden, which is part of a larger botanic gardens that focuses on native ecosystems but includes a permaculture garden and an herb garden. I am really enjoying my time there, and learning a lot from a lovely group of people.


The herb garden at its conception, almost 40 years ago


The herb garden in 2014


This rosemary bush is around 20 to 30 years old




I took these photos on an overcast day, but will take some more and add them here in the near future.


The garden has around 500 species of herbs, with uses ranging from culinary and medicinal to fibre making and fibre dyeing.


More to come….

Cleansing Tea

I felt a bit yuck this morning. Most likely its from eating junk food last night. The lymph glands in my neck are slightly swollen and have a faint, dull ache, and my head feels a bit ‘fuzzy’ (like it does when I am coming down with a cold). So, I made a herbal tea, with herbs picked fresh from the garden. As my medicinal herb garden is brand new, all my plants are babies, so this is a rare luxury at the moment.

I chose a base of chamomile flowers, with leaves of yarrow, white sage, lemon balm, basil, mint, sheep sorrel, rose geranium, and a pinch of (store-bought) licorice root for sweetness.

It’s a lovely delicate fragrant blend, and I can feel it doing me good already!


(the following herbs have other actions as well, I am just listing the ones relevant to this tea)

chamomile; carminative, digestive, stomachic, tonic

yarrow; blood cleanser

white sage; cleanser

lemon balm; carminative, stomachic, tonic

basil; just because I have a lot of it and I love it

mint; carminative, digestive, tonic

sheep sorrel; blood cleanser, immune booster, tonic

rose geranium; digestive, and I love the fragrance

licorice; demulcent, tonic, stomachic