GOLDEN RAT TAIL CACTUS (Cleistocactus winteri)

This particular plant image hails from the slopes of a water catchment in the Royal Botanic Gardens called Guilfoyles Volcano

The sloping ground leading right up to the water catchment is covered in either cacti, succulents or low-water plants and well worth a look if you’re visiting Melbourne.  (Or just a local and hadn’t realised this wonderful section of garden existed).  When living on that south-east corner of the RBG, I used to pass it regularly and while not a fan of cacti, the waist-high beds, as you walk up the spiral path, make for wonderful photo opportunities.

I seem to remember this was one of the 1st areas I took my new DSLR and Macro lens in early 2011.

Today, with a flawless blue sky, I’m inclined to go to the plant nursery (via taxi again) to choose some herbs for my planned new indoor mini Herb Garden.  Being Winter, my spinach and other leafy crops seem to be at a standstill in their growth and the cruel winds over the last few days have almost split my large Rosemary bush in half (again).  I’ll have to give it a new twine and bamboo ‘corset’ to hold it together again.  I only took it off this past Summer.

It has been very cold and windy lately.  Great news for skiing up in the Alpine Regions of the State, but most unpleasant if you don’t have a warm car to go out in (down in the lower elevations).  The thing is that Melbourne, with its generally temperate climate, is not used to extreme cold.


21 thoughts on “GOLDEN RAT TAIL CACTUS (Cleistocactus winteri)

  1. I’m sorry that you still have that pain Vicki! I hope it will get better!

    That’s a beautiful cactus garden. I love cactus and I like the way they are displayed there.

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    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Terry, but the pain seems never-ending and worse when I’ve sat down for more than about 20 minutes. So can’t spend too long on the computer. It’s nerve pain (as I’ve experienced in the past before the previous 2 surgeries). I know the difference between a pinched nerve and say, when you bump your shin or elbow and have a sore bone for 24 hours.

      New local doctor tomorrow and I’ll try out her knowledge and specialist contacts. A recent consultation with my previous Neurosurgeon wasn’t very positive, despite the U/S and MRI results (showing nerve compression). I’ve gone from a very active (slow) walker for hours on end, 3-4 afternoons a week, to barely able to walk from my desk chair to the kitchen bench 15 feet away. Even standing waiting for a taxi is painful. At last I can still water my garden with a lighter-than-usual watering can.

      And yes, that Cactus garden really is beautifully landscaped. That ‘hill’ is supposed to have about 17,000 cactus/succulent type plants. Such wonderful colours and variety too. I should post some more of those cacti, but I haven’t found all the names for my images yet.


  2. I don’t grow cacti, but I like to look at them. These are beautifully landscaped.

    Bummer about your ongoing pain. You have my sympathy and concern. We recently stayed in Colorado with a friend who hurt his back 8 years ago. It was work-related, and has plagued him ever since. Still can’t work, finds it hard to sit and stand. He spends so much time visiting doctors and has had many surgeries. He’s just change meds and is hoping for some relief.

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    1. You can do so much with cacti and succulents in our water-starved country, even though I don’t like the sharp thorns and irregular shapes. This area of the RBG is really interesting to walk around.

      My back and all-over pain condition started in 1980 – 38 years ago.

      Your friend sounds worse than me, but still, knowing him means you have some sense of the total frustration we have. I’ve managed up until this year as I used to have a good supply of prescription analgesics anyway. 2 pills an hour before I went out for a walk was usually just fine. Not now. My new young Dr doesn’t believe in them? Duh! Do I have to have to crawl into his office crying in pain to get his attention? Anyway I’m seeing a new (local) Dr tomorrow. I just have no way to vary my day except watch tv/dvd or stare out the window this Winter. Dare i suggest I’m getting a wee bit bored (not having the sight to read, paint or do craftwork nowadays).

      I feel so sorry for your friend. He must be so frustrated with the never-ending pain and trying to think of some distraction. You just can’t be smiling and upbeat with long-term pain. It’s draining and debilitating. Surgery can only do so much and even then, the osteophyte or scar formation, can create other issues including stiffness (Despite the physio in the rehab. centre I had in 2008 & 2015, I am very, very stiff in the mornings and it takes several hours of stretching, sitting, standing, walking around in circles and specific exercises to loosen up).

      I need to get out for some fresh air and exercise, not walk or hobble painfully from taxi rank to chemist/market when I get desperate for an outing these days. I’ll try to get out again next Sunday when its going to be lovely and sunny again. Perhaps I’ll get extravagant and catch a taxi somewhere. But the ‘taxi’ fund has its limits and I can’t sit too long in a car seat anyway.


      1. Over the years I watched Dave’s pain and limitations. I wish I could come to Melbourne and chauffeur you around for a couple of days. In Denver, we shaped our trips around where Dave wanted to go, including appointments.

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    2. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Peggy. My younger brother has been kind enough in past years, but it’s so difficult to get in and out of his 4WD these days. My older brother’s car is the same….high 4WD seating…….and they kindly give me the front passenger seat on the rare occasion I’m in their cars, but that’s just as bad as the back seat.

      (I’ve been looking at mobility scooters, not because I ‘need’ one, but because I can just sit down without twisting at the waist, like in a car). I’ll feel much better in the summer and spring when the balcony garden and bird life distract me.

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  3. That’s not good news at all Vicki, about your back. I hope the new doctor has some answers. I am in South Australia just now, and there were ferocious winds here too. While we have been away, there have been two mornings of -7 degrees and many others well below freezing. I fear there’s going to be a lot of frost damage in my garden.

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    1. I hope your garden doesn’t suffer too much, Jane. Nothing is worse than being away from home, knowing the weather has been so severe towards your lovely garden.

      For some weird reason my Spinach and Kale is not growing too well. Must be the frosty mornings as it grew ok in past winters. I notice the Kale had a couple of new leaves when I checked this afternoon, but still not quite large enough to cut.

      Melbourne has had some ferocious winds (again), but South Australia is usually a bit warmer

      Sounds like it’s not been too good lately.


    1. Thanks Pete.

      This round of never-ending pain is NEVER-ENDING 😀 , but at least I get to enjoy the many nature and photography blogs I follow so that’s a bit of a distraction.

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  4. I’m so fond of cacti, but my experience with them is limited. What a beautiful garden that is! I’ve heard that there are botanical gardens in places like New Mexico and Arizona that are much the same as what you show. Once, the glass sculptor Chihuly had an exhibit of his glasswork among the cacti — that must have been something.

    I’m so sorry to hear that things aren’t improving for you, and in fact are becoming more difficult. I keep forgetting that it’s winter over there — down there — and that has to make things even more difficult: no one likes being penned up, and you’re even more limited than most. Perhaps the new doctor will help the situation. My mother was in quite different circumstances, but a change of doctors was the beginning of a real solution.

    I have trouble getting in some of those high vehicles, myself. A regular car, or even an SUV, is fine, but some really are higher than I think necessary. Of course, no one cares what I think about it!

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    1. I’ll have to post some more Cacti for those that love them, Linda. I just wish I had all the names of the plants I’ve photographed.

      Went into one of our large bookstores in Melbourne with the prime purpose of buying a book on Cacti & Succulents last week. The Gardening section of the store had dozens of Gardening Books, as well as Cacti & Succulents – probably 50-60 books altogether and I looked at every single one – even the ones on Designing Gardens and would you believe there was only one book that had clear enough photos to identify any plants accurately. I was both disappointed and shocked that book authors allow such lousy images to illustrate their books. If I had the resources, eyesight and money, I might well re-photograh all the flowers in the Royal Botanic Gardens and write a book on the subject. The only decent book was actually an updated version of one of my own Royal Horticultural Society book of Plants in Australia written by Ian Spence. The new photos in his updated plant encyclopaedia were stunning in their detail and sharp focus.

      I have a couple of morphine slow-release patches to use in the next 2 weeks to see if they work and I’m not allergic to them. Each patch lasts a week. My new GP (general practitioner OR primary care physician) was fantastic yesterday and a great listener. We’ll work together to find out whether my hip needs scanning, or at least work on a plan to resolve this exacerbation in spine and sciatic pain, that is stopping my nature walks (and of course, photography outdoors). I walked home from the medical clinic yesterday – about a 10 minute walk, but it took me about 30 minutes and by the time I arrived home, each step was torture. The will to walk is there, but the exacerbation of what is already strong to severe pain is just not worth it.


  5. Great photos, Vicki. It would be great to visit the RBC there. The stepped beds look great with the color and the Agave and Aloe. The cactus reminds me of one hanging in my cousins sunroom. Thanks for sharing!


    1. It truly is an amazing plant collection and well worth a visit. I’ll try and share some more of the images I made back at that time I lived in a nearby street. But you know how it is, I need a few more names to put with some of the cacti varieties. I’ll share what I’ve got though.

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