Leo A. Martin

I am a tail-end baby boomer. Via the California public school system I became a medical doctor in order to earn steady plant money. I practice anesthesiology in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in the lush Sonoran Desert, whose signature plant is the saguaro cactus, Carnegiea gigantea.

Leo Martin, 2013My winter garden, February 2012My garden going dormant, April 2012Summer storage, April 2012

Above I stand next to Albuca clanwilliamae-gloria. I grew them from Silverhill seed in builder's sand in a 20 ounce / 550 ml foam drinking cup before repotting into a large plastic pot. Next is one of my winter growing areas on racks over my pond, February 2012. Next is the same garden, April 2012. Last shows dry bulb containers going into summer storage. Both summer and winter rain falls in the Sonoran Desert, so winter-growers need protection from summer rain.

Serious gardening studies began at age 4 with mom, who yielded to incessant pleading and bought my first cactus at Fedmart. Further studies with both grandmothers in winter-hardy bulbs, Hippeastrum hybrids, African violets, house plants, vegetables and growing from seed rounded out my primary horticultural education. Narcissus canaliculatus planted at mom's house in 1971 still bloom each spring.

I have always gardened, even in the university dormitory, where I grew orchids and sprouted my first mango seed. I then began the strange practice of buying exotic produce to sprout rather than eat. I have been known to choose products based on the container's suitability as a miniature greenhouse.

My first and greatest plant love is Cactaceae. My house is readily descried a block away. I have served the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society as President, Show and Sale Chair, newsletter editor and Webmaster. I was a member of the Board of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, where I supervised that society's publications and Conventions. Aside from cactus, I have a home orchard with many kinds of citrus, apples, stone fruits, pomegranates, dates, guavas, bananas, and a mango; I also have a pond for water lilies. Other societies to which I belong include California Rare Fruit Growers and its Arizona chapter, the Gesneriad Society, the American Orchid Society and the IBS.

In my spare time I serve on the board of Arizona Schnauzer Rescue. I house rescue Schnauzers for that organization and Valley of the Sun Giant Schnauzer Rescue. If you need a wonderful dog, contact me.

I grow many bulbs suited to my desert climate and some that aren't happy here. Summer temperatures frequently exceed 110 °F / 43 °C in the shade. Winter cold spells have dipped into the mid teens Fahrenheit / -9 °C overnight for 3 consecutive nights each in January 2007, December 2010 and January 2011 and six nights in a row in 2013. I am spreading the bulb mania among other gardeners here in metro Phoenix.

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