How it all Began
The Cactus House is just one
part of the remarkable Floral Hall complex which might well be described as the
Inverness Botanic Garden. If you have not yet visited it then you most certainly
should. The Branch is rather proud of its involvement in the Cactus House project,
not only because of its uniqueness, but because it is so successful. It was opened
on May 30th 1996, by Violet Johnstone and Val Pocock, and has been described, by
visitors, as the 'best landscaped cactus collection they have seen', and that from
people who had been to Kew. How did it get to that exalted state?
John Johnstone was one of the Founding Members of the Branch, and it was the donation of
his collection in 1991 that started it off. It was originally displayed as the John
Johnstone Corner, but the location was environmentally unsuitable (too humid and warm
in winter) causing some plants to be lost. Eventually, it was decided that a larger
scale display was desirable and Fiona Patrick and Mike Hahn (then Floral Hall Manager) made
that possible. The money became available and soon a bulldozer began creating the site we see
today - complete with huge boulders, etc.
Since the initial phase, inappropriate plant care, specifically in the watering regime,
caused problems until Robert Chapman (Chairman 2002/3) approached Floral Hall staff who
were very pleased to get expert input and are equally pleased with the result to the extent
that they offered the Branch the free use of their Training Room for Branch meetings.
So now the Cactus House is looked after by Branch members and anyone who would like to
be involved would be very welcome. One of the main attractions of doing so is that one
is actively involved on a larger scale than is possible in one's own greenhouse; for
example, working on a 20 foot Euphorbia with a 4 inch trunk! There is also the social
aspect of working with others.
The next update of Cactus House will feature the work of those who made the project so successful.