Some years back, I bought a potentially goofy-looking ceramic pot online. It was a seated cat figure, with an almost human face, and with the planter area at, appropriately, the backside of the animal. Let’s just say, it spoke to me. When the newcomer arrived, I happened to have on hand a tiny cactus which I thought might be a funny choice for this container, since the design sort of asked for it. The cactus was about 4” high when it took up residence, making the planter’s form and its living stubby “tail” resemble that of a Manx cat more so than most felines I know.
I admit I have a number of succulents, and this one might be the oldest. It is now, certainly, the tallest. I could never have imagined that it would reach such heights. At a certain time during its life – say, when the plant had tripled or quadrupled in size – I worried about its ability to support its own weight. I rigged up small cages – scaffolding, really – that kept the wind from knocking it over during its summers outdoors.
For many years, when cat-pot plant was outside it would sit on a small table about two feet off the ground, happily enjoying light filtered through the tree above. A couple of years ago, it became too tall and unwieldy to safely sit atop the table, so it then rested beneath the table with its “tail” extending to just below the table top. A couple of more seasons passed, and the “tail” was well above the table’s surface.
For safety’s sake, I started anchoring the cage supports, tying them down to the chair next to the table to make sure that, even sitting on the ground, the cactus would not be tumbled over by wind or storms.
I have never known exactly what kind of cactus this one is. I think it comes from the Espostoa family, but which one, exactly, is a puzzle. It has flowered once or twice – tiny floral eruptions from its side – making me imagine that it might be about to extend a new limb or some lateral growth. But, no, it just keeps climbing skyward.
Every year I think that this will be its last because, omg, it can’t keep going and not collapse. It now has a permanent cage support and has had it for some time. As you see, it would collapse without this assistance. In mid-2012 I had to extend the already-high wire structure because my cactus friend grew another 6” or so beyond the original cage. I have left it room to keep on growing, as it so desires.
It has become not only a magnificent cactus and, in its perfect container setting, a stunning tail. For me, it has almost become a marker of time and growth, like the kind you would notch onto a door jamb for a child. And at this rate, the plant may soon outgrow me. But even more, the cactus has proven itself to be an over-achiever and an emblem of going against the odds. When I bought it in a 3” pot at the annual flower show and brought it home, what were its chances for survival? If I were to take it back to the flower show, to let the vendor know that here was a super plant – it would blow some minds. Here is the power of nature, right smack dab in this goofy cat pot. Arslocii.