The BCSS, Join us!

What is the BCSS?

The British Cactus & Succulent Society is in short, amazing. While the world goes nuts over cacti via instagram and lights up the blogosphere with pictures of sad Agaves mislabeled as Aloes, the BCSS, a charity,  are promoting the study, conservation, propagation and cultivation of cacti and other succulent plants. They take these little fellas seriously and I'm about to tell you why you should too.

I grew up with cacti because of my dad, The Cactus King. I watched him nurture them and as a child was perplexed by his patience. As an 80's child I had a slightly longer attention span than the kids of today attached to an ipad but the idea of waiting years to see any real discernable growth in a plant still baffled me. When I realized they only flowered once a year, that just made it all the more odd to me. Over the years I grew really fond of his collection and when they did flower, oh my, breath taking. These crazy ass little plants were so foreign and strange in comparison to the flowers and shrubs I'd play around in the garden, they were almost considered decoration rather than living things.

This is exactly the mindset that is too easily observed. They are treated as disposable accessories by large retail stores, restaurant chains replace cut flowers with succulents and throw them out after a week, ill informed customers buy plants from willfully ignorant purveyors and after a month or so in the Instagram limelight they are discarded or binned. Death by drought, darkness or disease are the usual suspects but the future doesn't need to be this bleak.

There are a few basics to grapple with and it's easy peasy to give your plants a fighting chance. Plants aren't accessories, they are living, breathing creatures that are a lot more complex than the average person gives them credit for. Cacti and succulents are often a lot older than their tiny sizes suggests. They are often slow growers, so that 8cm tall cactus that someone killed off in 3 weeks was actually 6 years old and not even close to being mature. Wastefulness is so unnecessary with all help in the world just a few clicks away.  

The BCSS hold weekly meetings I branches all over the country. They have a forum online (albeit on a painful website) where thousands of knowledgeable and kind people are ready to share advice. You're never alone when you're in the BCSS, you're part of a family that respects, values and enjoys plants. Membership of the Society is international and open to all. Ain't that nice!

We will be opening our doors to the first Cactus Club (Central London Branch meeting) in a very long time and we'd love you guys to join us. More info will be coming soon once we've finalized a few things. In the mean time, join the BCSS, it's only £15 for a full year and you get 4 Cactus World magazines. That's 5 flat whites.

www.society.bcss.org.uk

 

 

The Maker

We thought it was high time you guys got some behind the scenes action from Concrete Jungles. It's easy to imagine factory lines and shipments when you picture mass made products, but not so easy to picture the day to day workings of a little hand made business. So, from us at CJ, here are some candid shots of a day in the life of a Concrete Jungles creator, my hero, my dad...

The Cactus King in the yard

Where the magic happens

In the workshop having an obligatory tea break. 

Concrete Jungles ready for their filing and a final check. 

Growth spurt

Growth spurt

It's a big day when you realise that you've sold all your little Succas! It's not a day I expected to come so soon and it's all thanks to you wonderful lot who have given the plants we've tended to a loving happy home. From the bottom of our green and muddy hearts, thank you. 

Because we grow our own plants it's going to take a while for the littlest fellas to mature enough for sale. Rather than selling you guys some hopped up nitrate pumped mass grown monsters, we are going to put ours on hold till next spring. You can still buy the planters and the Cactus King is busy in the workshop making some new batches which will go live as soon as he lets me know they are all looking good. 

If you'd like your planter pre planted you can always get in touch with me and we can have a chat about what you'd like. We've got a lot of very special plants that other members of The British Cactus and Succulent Association are growing for us, so if you fancy yourself as a connoisseur then maybe we can make some magic happen. Herbs are wonderful in the planters and I'm very happy to send some your way too. How exciting. 

So, my friends, for now if you'd like a planted up Concrete Jungle then head to one of the suppliers listed on our hello page and see if they have any in stock or just holla at me. 

Peace & Plants

Sam x

 

Happy little beans

Happy little beans

There's much talk of Succas around here, but there's a new fella in town and he's got a kick. Coffee Arabica is making an appearance at Concrete Jungles and he comes with a few demands, as most stars do. Here are some tips on looking after your new pal...

 

I'm alive.

I like to think about plants as I would a person, creepy as that may sound I find it helps when talking about what they need and how to care for them. They aren’t much different from us really, and let’s be honest sometimes they are easier to talk to!

 

House me.

Picture the scene, a tropical mist rolls by and you can hear birds in the canopy. You’re in the forests of the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. Bad ass.

This isn’t some shmucky Starbucks, oh no, this is where Coffee Arabica originates from and it is beautiful.

There’s plenty of water from rainfall, the soil is rich and well draining. It’s very humid and Coffee Arabica bloody loves it.

This is what we need people, it’s sounding a lot like your bathroom isn’t it. Sling your Coffee Concrete Jungle in there and he’ll be happy.

 

Water

Your Coffee needs lots of water, with-holding it is a lot like not drinking anything throughout the day, imagine how crappy you'd feel! If he starts to shrivell or brown then you need to give him a drink. They love a good fog and high humidity is great, so mist him too if you have the tools.

 

Temperature

If you’re reading this and you’re living in a sunny warm climate then jog on, we don’t need to hear about your tropical paradise whilst we search for our umbrellas. We in the UK must keep our Coffee indoors a long with our Succas.

Keep it comfy… They don't like frost! Does anyone really? They like temperatures between 15 and 24°C. Keep your little fella away from drafts in winter. If it drops below 18°C for too long they won't be very happy.

 

Light

Picture that scene again, a tropical canopy overhead. Think dappled light and you’re spot on. No direct light for this boy, he likes the shade so anyroom with a window will do so long as there is no direct light burning him up. You’ll know he’s getting too much light when the leaves brown. That’s sun burn my friend.

 

Growing up

In 7 years your little fella will be fully mature and in the wild could be upto 12m tall. Takes after his dad. Don’t worry though, the size of the pot will keep him small. If you want to watch him grow then you can give him a slightly bigger pot every spring. If he’s getting too big for his boots give him a prune in spring too.

 

Having Kids

Fancy yourself some Coffee kids? You can propogate with seeds, cuttings or air layers (for the pros). When your little one is mature enough after 3-5 years you’ll notice some little white flowers in the spring. After a while you’ll get some berries that darken into pods containing two seeds, that right there is your coffee bean gold. GOLD!

 

Keeping the Succas alive

Keeping the Succas alive

Don’t sweat it, these little beauties are born survivors. A few things to know and you’ll have a happy Succa for years to come.