Perhaps it was the Golden Guide on cacti that I used to flip through as a kid
or the old piece of grey-brown, hole-studded Cholla wood that sat
on my grandmother's shelf among her African violets. Whatever it
was I have had a fascination with cacti for as long as I can remember.
Growing up in central Minnesota greatly limited my exposure
to actual cactus plants. Undaunted by this however, I kept my passion for
cacti fueled one way or another and enjoy continued
discovery in this specific botanical hobby.
Growing Cacti in Minnesota
Here I am around 16 years old behind my cactus garden in Minnesota.
(click picture to enlarge) Contrary to many people's beliefs there
are several limited species of cacti that are hardy enough to survive
below zero winter weather. Cacti that grow in these conditions release
much of the moisture from within their cells and shrivel up in the
fall. This keeps the cells from bursting when they freeze. In spring
the plants take advantage of spring rains to soak up the moisture
needed for growth. Here I was able to grow a few different varieties
of Opuntias, a couple Escobarias, an Echinocereus, and a Pediocactus.
Here is another picture of my Minnesota garden:
Growing Cacti in California
For twelve years I lived in Southern California, where I was free to grow any species
of cacti I chose without fear of freezing. (see Places/My
Garden) If I could have, I would have grown one of every species
of cacti that exists. And although I had the climate to support
any species, I did not have the 200 acres I grew up with at my disposal.
In fact, I was limited to about 70 or 80 square feet. Thanks to modern
technology, however, that did not mean the end. I found I could
find new species of cacti and "collect" them with a digital
camera and then "plant" them on my web site instead. That is
not quite the same as growing actual plants, I admit, but I have no
right to complain.
Back to Minnesota!
After a dozen wonderful years in California, I am back in Minnesota now and when I moved, I took all my
cacti with me. Due to a particularly wet and cold fall that I moved in the middle of, I lost around
half of my plants. After the first long winter, I built a greenhouse in the spring and kept my plants in there from
mid-spring to mid-fall. They all did exceptionally well and I look forward to more growing seasons ahead. While
my greenhouse is a somewhat temporary structure now, I hope to build a more formidable one in the future.
CactiGuide.com went live on May 5, 2002. Once I had the basic architecture of CactiGuide.com built, the
next step was to gather content. I started taking pictures of plants
that grew wild around Southern California and those that I had growing
in my back yard. I then visited local cactus nurseries and local
botanical gardens that I knew had cactus collections. I've also
visited the Desert Botanical Garden and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona and the Southern
Arizona cactus-filled parks: Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus. I have been fortunate to explore cacti
in Baja California and hope that some day I might visit mainland Mexico,
then Central America, and ultimately the countries of South America.
Admittedly, these are lofty goals for a man of my means and they won't be realized for years.
Hence, CactiGuide.com will continue to be a work-in-progress long into the future. Last, but not
least, there have been many other cacti enthusiasts who have joined with me to help provide images
and other information to help "complete" the guide sooner.
CactiGuide.com is committed to the conservation of cactus species primarily through education. Be
on the lookout for on-going articles, species notes, and forum discussions on this topic. Students looking
for an environmentally conscious science project, please ask how CactiGuide.com can help you. (e-mail link above)
A Statement of Personal Convictions*
An astute observer will notice that this website is devoid of any references to origins.
This is in contrast to the vast majority of science-related websites which unabashedly
reference evolution or evolutionary beliefs as facts which need simply to be discovered.
It is my personal belief that all matter including cacti was created by the God of the
Bible and that the Genesis account of recent supernatural creation is the more believable
explanation for the origin of all things. I do not believe the earth is billions of
years old and therefore do not believe in a world created through evolution either. The
creation/evolution views are mutually exclusive of each other by definition and cannot
consequently be combined in an attempt to honor both sides of the issue.
Despite my personal convictions, I also recognize that because neither view can be
scientifically proven it will continue to be an unresolved matter of debate. In addition
because of the moral and philosophical implications of the subject, it is often accompanied
by strong emotions and few are without a staunch opinion one way or the other. I realize
that today the majority of the scientific community presents Darwinian Evolution without
consideration of its possible errancy or that there are alternative explanations of origins.
This situation does not in turn confirm the veracity of the view point, but simply reflects the
popular opinion of a particular group in a specific point in time. Indeed, if popular opinion
constituted proof, the Evolution Hypothesis would never have been posited within the
Creation framework which preceded it.
With that said, I have decided not to address the topic of origins on CactiGuide.com beyond
these three paragraphs. This does not mean I think the subject is not worth thoroughly exploring.
In fact I would urge all to invest a considerable amount of time examining the evidence against
the interpretations of both view points without bias. I also will openly discuss my beliefs
with anyone who is inclined to bring it up. Meanwhile I will continue to develop CactiGuide.com
in accordance with its Primary Objective.
*Note: This statement refers to my own beliefs and does not necessarily reflect the views of others who
have contributed to the content of this site.