The event: Cacti for Beginners with Dr John Hughes
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 13th November 2018 at 7.30pm 

From his earliest days John Hughes has always grown plants with his main passion being cacti and other succulent plants. Unable to do Botany at ‘A’ level, as only Zoology was offered, he went on to study Industrial Chemistry at University and stay on for his PhD. He then embarked on a career as a Forensic Scientist which included a secondment to work in Peru where he fell in love with all things Latin and with South America in particular. He has spent over three years of his life there, often back-packing and looking to learn about all manner of plants from alpines to tropical plants. He has also been a long term member of a field club where members study the British flora and fauna in the countryside.

Having looked after his parents garden from his early teens, the products of his labour led him to become an active amateur showman and later Horticultural judge. He loves to share his passion for plants and has been a frequent speaker to Horticultural Societies, Cactus Societies and Alpine Garden Society Groups and is Chairman of the London Group of the Alpine Garden Society. He has been a member of the Royal Horticultural Societies’ Tender Ornamental Plant Committee for over ten years and a judge at all the major RHS shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court for much of this time.


John started growing plants as a child and decided cacti were some of the easiest, & for him, most interesting.  He now judges at shows such as Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Many of these plants have very attractive flowers at different times of the year and come in some fascinating shapes & sizes.

There are numerous types of succulent plants, the advantage of which is that they need very little water and are therefore ideal for dry conditions.  Some hold their water in their stem and others in their leaves (leaf succulents). There are also root succulents which are very familiar to us, eg, turnips, carrots & parsnips.

Cacti & leaf succulents grow naturally in places like South Africa, Mexico, South America & the Turks & Caicos Islands where there is a definite dry season.  Maybe if we have more summers as hot as this year we will have to consider more cacti & succulents for our own gardens.

There are wonderful displays of these plants at RHS Wisley and also at Tom Hart-Dyke’s World Garden at Lullingstone.