Cactus have never really been my thing growing up. When I was seven we lived about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah in a mid size town called Sandy. We had large fields around our subdivisions of suburbia.
I would used to go out into these fields of sagebrush and play with my friends. One day while playing, I stumbled across a Great Basin Prickly Pear with long sharp spines. It was also colder that day and the barbs went right into my leg.
I ran home crying in a lot of pain and my mom got the barbs out with a pair of tweezers. I never really took to cactus after that. I mean they were cool as back drops in a Western and anywhere that I wasn't. But to be honest, pain was not my thing.
It was many years later that I met a friend of mine at my current work, who now lives in another state. He and I became fast friends. He let me come to his house and I saw this bizarre yard.
He had cacti, mostly prickly pear everywhere. He also had some palm trees. I thought to myself "This is an interesting chap." He was really enthusiastic about palms, cactus, and other tropical stuff. If it was a challenge to grow outside of the traditional zone, well Kirk was the man.
It soon became of some interest to me after a few trips we took out west of Utah Lake in Utah. Slowly he sucked me into his world and I began to grow prickly pears. The same kind of plant that stuck me in the leg some 25 years earlier.
The rest is history. That is how I came to love cacti. Now I have mini barrels, large barrels, golden barrels, beaver tails, prickly pear from the Colorado Plateau and Mojave Deserts, hedgehog cacti and chollas.
It is a wonderfest of pain but very beautiful when they bloom. I have always liked stuff that was a bit off the mainstream. I live on the line between the Great Basin to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east.
It forms an interesting microclimate of moderate winters and hot summers with nice spring and fall seasons.
We have a true Indian Summer here. It is nice to see such hardy plants survive in and outside. More about cacti later. But if I figure if I am going to have a hobby, no pain, no gain.