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.