Flower power: Geraldton prickly passion in full bloom

Stan MaleyMidwest Times
Geraldton resident John Hood stands beside the San Pedro cacti in his garden.
Camera IconGeraldton resident John Hood stands beside the San Pedro cacti in his garden. Credit: Stan Maley

A prickly passion has come to blooming life over Sunset Beach way. John Hood’s row of tall cactus plants have all burst into flower on their annual bloom and created a rather interesting sight, mainly at night.

He has lived all his life around the banks of the Chapman River, between the two bridges in Park Avenue, Geraldton. He was born there and lived with his parents and eventually bought the house.

His grandma used to live next door, and at one time owned 3.64ha of ground there.

She grew roses and had hundreds growing in the gardens around the house next to John.

The San Pedro cactus flowers in John Hood's Geraldton garden.
Camera IconThe San Pedro cactus flowers in John Hood's Geraldton garden. Credit: John Hood

“What’s the story with your cactus?” I asked him.

“It was around the year 2000 was when I first got the bug for it and started growing them,” John said.

“I think this tall cactus is called Trichocereus Pachanoi (San Pedro). It is similar to one of the psychedelic cactuses that are sought-after.”

His San Pedro cacti are lining up to bloom. They rarely flower, and to have them all come on at once is a great sight in John’s backyard.

He also has two types of dragon fruit and his red one had a lot of fruit on it. He showed me the yellow one, which had several fruits.

This particular dragon fruit is sweeter than the red one.

The names of these fruiting cacti are Hylocereus costaricensis (Pitaya roja or red-fleshed pitaya, also known as Hylocereus polyrhizus), which has red-skinned fruit with red flesh, and the yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh is ylocereus megalanthus (Pitaya amarilla or yellow pitaya, also known as Selenicereus megalanthus). John said growing cacti was not as easy as people thought.

“If you get them in the right spot they do well. But they don’t like too much sun and can get burned,” he said.

“With the dragon fruit, I heard you can cross them with the San Pedro. The flower is similar, but I haven’t been able to do that.”

He has other varieties of cacti scattered about the backyard. One specimen is mother-in-law’s cushion.

Even though it looks big enough to sit on, I am sure that would not be a good idea. It was great to see a garden of mainly cacti — certainly a very waterwise garden — that gives fruit and flowers in season.

To share your Geraldton garden with readers, call Stan Maley on 0428 230 029.

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