Friday, July 9, 2010

Cactus demolition team!

I have tasked John with the procurement of large, specimen cacti, agaves and yuccas for the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden). We both saw a Craigslist ad for some big columnar cacti this week, and went to see them and meet owner Doug on Wednesday night.

The four cacti turned out to be huge - one was about 15'+ tall, one probably weighed 500# (remember they're full of water!) and clearly these specimens had been growing in situ for a decade or more. Naturally, the only access to them was through a low, narrow passageway under the house whose back yard they grew in, and that meant there was no way to get them out whole - we'd literally have had to helicopter them out if we wanted 'em in one piece!

We explained this to Doug and he was philosophical about it. Then John hacked the cacti to bits with a saw! Well, OK, he came back yesterday and spent 4 hours removing two cacti in long pieces, and stacking the “logs” at P. Garden. Then at 7pm Matt and I met him there and we finished the job on the third one, carrying out the largest bits we could handle tied to a ladder that acted as a gurney.

Think about a 200# log covered in 3" flesh-skewering spines that wants to roll off your ladder and pin you to the floor in agony. Yes, you only ask good friends to help with a job like this...

This morning at 8am we met John at the garden and unloaded his truck at PG. I really don’t think anyone’s gonna steal those large, spiky bits of cactus, but dog owners be aware that they’re up by the bricks for now so take care of your dogs! I had planned to ask Steve who owns Regent’s Cab Co. at 17th x Pennsylvania if we could pot the cacti and stand them up against his fence over the summer so they can root up in peace. Serendipitously, after leaving the garden this morning we saw Steve at Hazel’s Kitchen, and he graciously agreed to allow us to stash the goods there. Thanks Steve!

And thanks Doug, John and Matt. Now how’s that for a team effort?

Pic shows John lowering a gigantic bit of cactus to the ground while Matt looks on. Spiky!

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