Jack Schmidling Productions, Inc.
18016 Church Road ~ Marengo IL 60152




When we moved out to the country, we had grand plans of developing an English type of park on our property, with beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees; formal walk ways and everything but the Queen to enjoy them.

Well, aside from all the work, it did not take long to realize that we were fighting a losing battle. Between the critters eating everything as fast as we could plant it and the need to water on a regular basis, we were forced to look for things that needed less water and were less attractive to wild life. Virtually every planting has a chicken wire cage around it and some even on top and we have to spend several hours, several times a week driving the water wagon around the 8 acre park.

On trips to Colorado, I often noticed cactus growing in areas that I knew were at least as cold as the Midwest and certainly drier and obvioulsy, no self respecting critter would dare to eat this.

A search of the internet produced a group called "Too Cold For Cactus". After joining and asking a few basic questions, I received several care packages from two of the members, containing a collection of cactus guaranteed to solve my problems. Prudence suggests that I not publish their names but they and a whole gang of cactus lovers can be found on that list which is now a Yahoo group. Thanks again... Gentlemen. This week's pictures show them alive and doing well.

Opuntia Cactus

This picture is one of the plantings made in front of the shop where they get lots of sun and reflected heat in the Winter. There are two species of "Prickly Pear Cactus" in the picture. The one in bloom is Opuntia humifusa but I do not know the species of the other.

There are five other groupings of hardy cactus out in the park as big or bigger than this one. They are a smashing success but surprisingly, there has been a little nibbling but nothing serious.

Not only do the hardy cacti fit our environment but the flowers are beatiful and prolific. The group in the above photo had about 40 blossoms this year.

This smaller grouping contains the same two species and is out in the park, totally exposed to the elements.

The most amazing thing is to see how they manage to survive the Winter. They wilt and shrivel up into what surely looks like dead cactus. But come Spring, they fill out like baloons and start another season of beauty that I will bet the Queen has never even seen.

Most people are as suprised as I was to learn that cactus grow quite well in Northern Illinois as long as one chooses hardy varieties. Some of them will take over a small cactus garden in a couple of years and others grow so slowly, it's hard to know they are even alive.


Escobaria vivipara

This one definitely falls into the later category. It was the size of a large marble when we planted it and not noticeably bigger 5 years later.

However, the big surprise this year was that it decided to bloom and the beautiful flower was well worth the wait. Unfortunately, it lasted only one day and never opened again.

This larger view shows it in context with several other Opuntia cacti.

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