New cactus planted in the garden

Happy International Plant Appreciation Day (April 12)! The day is a celebration of all plants and the benefits they provide. This is also the perfect time to add new ones to your landscape.

Visitors may notice a few cactus additions to the Desert Botanical Garden.

Garden horticulturists recently planted 18 cacti, mostly of the genus Copiapoa, at the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Desert terrace garden. Last year, about 29 cacti from the same collection were planted in the Sybil B. Harrington Cacti gallery.

These prickly plants are part of the garden’s Fred Kattermann collection. Kattermann is an avid cactus and succulent collector from Wantage, New Jersey, who donated 90% of his collection to the Garden in 2013. Although not a botanist, he has grown hundreds of succulents in his greenhouses as a hobby over the years. One of his most notable collections was of cacti from the desert regions of Chile, northern Argentina and Peru. As Kattermann grew older, he wanted to ensure that his collection continued to thrive and provide knowledge for future generations. Thus, he donated his treasures to several botanical gardens – the majority of which went to the Garden.

But receiving these plants was an unforgettable journey, recalls Garden staff.

Shipping companies do not have the ability to ship 50 year old plants that require specific temperatures. And it’s hard to check dozens of bags full of plants on an airline. So Garden staff had to rent a U-Haul to transport them safely from New Jersey to Phoenix.

The mission required a lot of work and preparation on the part of the Garden’s Research, Collections and Conservation and Horticulture departments.

Garden horticulturist Ray Leimkuehler traveled with fellow Curator of Living Collections Raul Puentes to bring the Kattermann collection to the garden. They created shelves within the U-Haul to hold over 1,300 potted plants. The team also had to carefully apply the brakes of the vehicle throughout the trip so that the cactus did not fall or be damaged.

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