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Meet Fertile Myrtle of Leavenworth

By on June 26, 2021 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Once a year — maybe twice, if she is lucky — Barbara Washburn sees the flowery glory of her cactus.
Mother cactus Fertile Myrtle is crowded by her babies.

Meet Fertile Myrtle of Leavenworth

By Barbara Washburn

We call my cactus “Fertile Myrtle” for explanations shown in these photos. 

“What sort of cactus is it,” you may ask? 

Not sure at all and frankly, neither do I care. What I DO care about is that fertile gift from Mother Earth and its 24-hour-lasting beauty each year. Yes, the blooms only last for 24 hours once a year — twice, if I am lucky.

Myrtle was given to me as a Mom’s Day present in 2008 by my now 22-year-old daughter, Anna. She is my little artist and always has been — not by profession but by personal passion. 

At the time, the non-blooming Myrtle was sitting in Anna’s painted flowerpot standing a whole inch tall.

The cactus has moved various times over the years. She stays outside when it is warm, loves the heat, and lives in our slightly heated garage by a window during the cold months. Her pot has been increased in size several times since she keeps making tons and tons of babes.

Recently, I noticed her plastic home was bending from the crowd of babies and she looked distressed. So I decided to do the meticulous and frankly grueling job of dividing her family. 

Golden Retriever Max keeps a careful eye — and some distance — as Barbara works through the dividing process.

That, my dear plant-loving friends, took a couple days, a lot of bandages and Benadryl lotion, despite being careful YouTubing it beforehand and using bunched-up news pages to move them and wrap up the babies. Let’s just say, I am not quitting my day job to go into that sort of business.

During Myrtle’s dissection process, my driveway at times looked like a small dirt tornado hit ground. It also involved a lot of unique tools not always found in an average garden shed. I found that tongs from my kitchen drawers or tons of wadded up newspapers were needed to be able to pick up the little prickly plants. 

My dog Max, being the typical Golden Retriever he is, had to sit right by me. Needless to say, he only touched a cactus with his nose once.

Myrtle’s offspring came in different sizes, some as small as one of my fingernails. Each one got its own pot. The Mothership herself had to be stabilized for several weeks in her now rather enormous pot to re-reinforce her. 

I shared Myrtle’s offspring with friends and pretty much ANYONE who wanted a cactus. She had dozens of babes.  I left two in the new pot, to be close to mom. 

Some went to members of our local Cascade Garden Club, which I belong to but hardly have time for. I guess I spend too much time doing peculiar things like dividing cacti. 

Barbara Washburn, a Leavenworth resident and Bavarian native, enjoys freelance writing and photography. Her passions are human interest stories or capturing those Kodak 

moments of life.

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