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The Cactus Garden

I have had a lifelong obsession with succulents and cacti.  My first memory of them is in 1960s on a road trip along the Port Wakefield road north of Adelaide in South Australia.  A mysterious and strange cactus garden loomed on the side of the road the only thing for miles in the flat dry landscape.  The garden was a dichotomy; I found it strangely welcoming but on the other hand hostile looking.  The weird shapes, the spikes and the spines of the plants were foreboding.  On the other hand the garden had a dry stone wall and entrance way, dotted with rusty wheels and farm detritus that inspired such curiosity that many felt compelled to pullover and have a look.  It was a complete contrast to the gardens of the time in Australia; most people had a front yard filled with roses and delicate water hungry plants and in the back a large lawn with a Hills hoist and veggie patch.  Water wise was not yet a concept.

Like many things, cacti and succulents suffer from faddism, they become in vogue and then fade from popularity and sadly many amazing cactus gardens have been left to a slow decline, as has the one that inspired me as a little girl.

My other long time obsession is felt making and in particular sculptures and structures, so it was no surprise that eventually I would make succulents and cacti from felt.  Triggered by a friend’s photos of cacti, from a recent trip to the USA, cacti took over my life – for nearly 12 months.  It started with one barrel cactus and ended up in a whole garden.

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Table and Chair at the Cactus Ranch (Image Courtesy Mallala Now & Then Website)

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