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According to one website i read Duthie Park Winter Gardens has the second biggest collecion of cacti under glass in the UK, and the 2nd biggest collection of bromeliads too. In both cases it is only beaten by the Eden project in Cornwall (still haven't been yet.
It is a really impressive house and above is the view as you leave the Victorian corridor to enter the house. Once inside there are at least a couple of hundred species in prime condition very well displayed. There used to be one extremely special cactus in there but that has fallen foul of budget cuts. It was a talking cactus - yes it really did talk. If there was a busy day with lots of kids in the cactus house then a large eye on a stalk would rise up from a barrel cactus (called Spike) about a meter in diameter, just next to a wooden fenced enclosure and the cactus would talk to the kids there - answer questions etc. I wonder how it did that - snigger.
Don't believe me - check out the facebook group dedicated to geting it reinstated "REINSTATE THE TALKING CACTUS IN DUTHIE PARK" - there 2391 members. Below are two pictures I've borrowed from the group - Spike the talking cactus.
The second one shows better the size of the greenhouse - it's a fair size.
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They used to have a very big prickley pear Opuntia in the corner jiurie is walking towards in the first photo - big spikey pads. The first novel i wrote had a scene in the cactus house where the hero hid behind the cactus.
That big 'un disappeared a few years back but now they have one on the oppsite of the walkway (the plant above) and when we visited it was in bloom. It produced a couple of the nicest cactus flowers I have ever seen - a beautiful shafe of sherbet yellow. I like Opuntias because one of the first half dozen cacti I ever collected (was given by my mum - bought from a jumble sale I'm sure) was an opuntia that must have been 50 centimetres or so high.  Big pads on it about 15 cms (6 inches) in diameter. I think my ma soon came to hate it because it would always catch you when you tried to open the window. It's the small hairs (glochids) at the base of the spine that are the worse - they don't prick or scratch you like the 1 inch needle like thorns but they get into your skin and irritate you for hours.

So the opuntia flower - maybe 4 inches in diameter, sherbet yellow and almost papery in it's appearance. Mayb it's just me but the stigmas in the middle look like two little hands reaching up, grasping for something - maybe trying to tickle a bee into coming close so that they can grab it's pollen. maybe it is just me - could be grasping hands, or praying hands or begging hands.

Anywho the cactus house - one of the great things about living in Aberdeen.
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