Gardening’s sharp end in Sheffield

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For more than 70 years, members of a city gardening group have shared their enthusiasm for growing cactuses.

And this June the Sheffield Cactus and Succulent Society will hold its 62nd free annual show in the Botanical Gardens, a two-day event that attracts hobbyists from across the country.

The British Cactus and Succulent Society Sheffield Branch held a show at the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield over the weekend. Peter Cowdell with one of his entries at the exhibition

The British Cactus and Succulent Society Sheffield Branch held a show at the Botanical Gardens, Sheffield over the weekend. Peter Cowdell with one of his entries at the exhibition

The club’s publicity officer Peter Cowdell said: “We have plants for sale - costing £1 up to a few pounds - and we try while stocks last to give some to children with their parents.

“We also encourage people to bring plants down to see us at our diagnostic service.

“They can bring plants for naming, and we’ll diagnose them if they’re looking peaky or ill.

“We’ll offer tips on growing cactuses and there’s a tombola - normally plant-related prizes and so on.

“We’re now finalising a celebrity to cut the yellow ribbon and open the show.”

The society sells its own information packs at £2.50 each, which contain detailed cultivation guidelines - suitable for newcomers - and a special membership form giving £2 off the first year’s subscription.

Peter said a good rule of thumb was to water cactuses from mid-March to mid-September, twice a week, using rainwater if possible.

“Let the plants dry out before rewatering and give them as much light as possible,” he added.

“In June, July and August, feed the plants with a cactus fertiliser - they’re inexpensive from most garden centres.

“Feed every other watering to encourage flowering - all cacti and succulent composts are well drained. Small bags of soil, labelled cactus compost, can be purchased from most garden centres, so when watering in the home put a saucer underneath as it could run through.

“And enjoy them, super plants will stand neglect. Don’t repot them until they’re just about busting out of their container.

“Every expert was a beginner once. We’ve got growers with over 40 years’ experience.”

The show takes place on June 3 and 4 from 10am to 5pm on the Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on the Sunday.

The Sheffield society was founded in 1946 and is one of over 90 branches BCSS branches throughout the UK, with over 3,000 members in total.

Each one has an active programme of local events, meetings, talks and shows, supplemented by a number of regional and national events.

n Visit www.sheffield.bcss.org.uk for more details.