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Cacti & Succulent Field Trip • Southern Rural Route

Monday, October 20, about 25 of us from the Mandarin Garden Club descended on the home of Jacksonville’s Jim Love of Ace Hardware Nursery. His back yard is full of cacti and succulents and a few other plants that strike his fancy. Most of his backyard was in shade but he found that he had no trouble growing his plants in low light. Mr. Love admitted right away that he doesn’t landscape his succulent garden in the conventional manner but everything was laid out in interesting arrangements and a lot of it was permanently set up for winter protection – plastic that would roll down when released.

Jim Love

The first stunner to catch your eye as you walked into the backyard was rhapsalis. It looked like a weeping pencil cactus with long streamers and an occasional tear.

Rhapsalis Cacti Same cacti – front view Hanging baskets inside a concrete step structure
painted to look like adobe Cacti and succulents Succulents Agave Maculosa – almost looks like a bromeliad
really caught my fancy Agave – Century Plant Root Beer Plant

At the end of our visit, he put three trays of succulents on a table and gave each of us a ticket for a drawing. He used his cap to hold all the tickets and make the drawings. It turns out that we ALL had winning tickets — everyone went home with a succulent. Cacti and succulents are not available in any great numbers at local plant nurseries so I was in awe of Mr. Love’s collection. I keep trying to grow the simple ones and I keep killing them off.

If you know someone undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, Mr. Love, along with the Men’s Garden Club of Jacksonville, has grown 1400 aloe vera plants for patients with radiation burns. The Jacksonville Zoo has graciously donated a 100 by 100 foot plot for growing the aloe vera. The Men’s Garden Club is asking the community to donate aloe vera plants or “pups” to the project. They do not have to be in pots; bare root is fine. As I understand it, they want the soft, light green aloe vera like this:

aloe vera

Duval County has garden members in several different areas of town who can pick up the plants. If you are in radiation therapy and need a plant, clear it with your doctor and call (904) 635-7318 for information.