Pitzer College Hosts the Cactus and Succulent Society of America

A temporary garden now occupies the former footprint of Holden Hall.
A temporary drought-tolerant garden occupies the former footprint of Holden Hall.

Claremont, Calif. (May 28, 2015)—As California grapples with one of its worst droughts on record, the Cactus and Succulent Society of America is coming to the environmentally sustainable campus of Pitzer College. The Society will hold its biennial convention on Pitzer’s water-wise grounds June 14-19, 2015.

The Cactus and Succulent Society of America (CSSA) is a worldwide community of gardeners, horticulturists and scientists who are devoted to the appreciation, understanding and conservation of cacti and succulents. Approximately 300 CSSA members are coming to Pitzer for the event, some from as far as South Africa and Australia. Plant sales will be open to the public on June 16-19. Single day registration is also available.

The John R. Rodman Arboretum started in the gardens around the Grove House, a campus landmark.
The John R. Rodman Arboretum began in the gardens around the Grove House, a campus landmark.

Pitzer is a natural fit for the society’s six-day convention. The College’s arboretum manager, Joe Clements, is CSSA’s longest-serving board member as well as the former curator of the desert garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA. The extensive drought-tolerant gardens he designed at Pitzer have been called “the most sophisticated and artfully presented collection of succulents, desert plants, and Mediterranean-climate plants outside of a botanical garden.”

Clements says the time and the place is right for the CSSA’s convention, which is being held less than three months after California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that calls for converting 50 million square feet of front yards from thirsty turf to naturally sustainable space.

“We’ve got to get over our heavy use of lawns,” Clements said. “We can do that with succulents and Mediterranean plants.”

arboretum-flying-saucer-cactus
Planted around the campus, these echinopsis hybrids put on a spectacular display for a few days each spring.

Clements became Pitzer’s grounds and arboretum manager in 2000, after spending more than two decades at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. As part of Pitzer’s plan to increase sustainability by decreasing water usage, he led a transformation of the campus, replacing lawns with low-water plants. Since 2002, Pitzer has decreased its water usage by 50 percent while proving that water-wise botanicals and biodiversity can be beautiful. Clements estimates that Pitzer’s gardens include many endangered species.

The San Gabriel Valley and Gates Cactus and Succulent Societies are hosting CSSA’s 2015 convention.

For more information, contact CSSA General Manger and Convention Registrar Gunnar Eisel at Geisel@citruscollege.edu.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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