Bobby Collingwood at the Greenman Nursery in Kloof with some of his grandfather Bert Collingwood’s cactus collection that is more than 75 years old. The cactus in the background is aptly nicknamed ‘mother-in-law’s seat’. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ANA
Bobby Collingwood at the Greenman Nursery in Kloof with some of his grandfather Bert Collingwood’s cactus collection that is more than 75 years old. The cactus in the background is aptly nicknamed ‘mother-in-law’s seat’. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ANA

‘Mother-in-law’s seat’ thriving since ’45

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Sep 26, 2020

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Durban - Estimated to be about 75 years old, the Collingwood cactus collection may only be a fraction of what it once was, but still remains impressive.

The huge cacti stand proudly on display at the Greenman Nursery in Kloof, run by Bobby Collingwood, who said that his grandfather, Bert Collingwood, had started his cactus garden at his Durban North home in “around 1945”.

Rather tongue-in-cheek, the common name for the largest cactus is the “Mother-In-Law Seat”.

And since the cactus collection was transplanted from his grandfather’s home to the family’s Kloof property, Collingwood said the cactus plants have never been watered, remain under a roof cover and survive on natural moisture in the air.

Cacti are succulents found in deserts and normally thrive in very dry weather conditions.

“As a family collection, it has a strong sentimental value,” he said.

His older brother, William, who moved the cactus collection to the family’s Kloof property, said: “It was a huge collection and really what is left, is quite small by comparison. What is amazing is how well they have done in Kloof, despite the wet.”

William, who is in the growers’ industry, said nurseries around Durban had taken a hard knock in the last five years, with many closing down and seedling tray volumes “a fraction” of what was being ordered 10 years ago.

The hard Covid-19 lockdown also took its toll when William had to “throw away two months of seedlings sales onto the compost heap”.

But with many people at home when nurseries and garden suppliers re-opened, he said there was a “feeding frenzy” for vegetable seedlings.

“It was fantastic to see that boom for veggie gardens, but it has since died down. Recently I’ve only been growing veggies and ground covers.”

And coming from three generations where a veggie patch was always considered a “must have” in the garden, William said: “Growing up, my mom produced four veggies a night. She grew everything, from carrots, beans, potatoes and all the squashes. What we didn’t use, was frozen.

“Growing veggies is hard work, but there’s nothing better than picking fresh herbs and veggies from your own garden,” he said.

The Independent on Saturday

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