I believe that almost every man has something of a collector inside. It is always interesting to collect things. If it is not done mechanically it can be very useful: how many new things people collecting stamps or coins can learn out of their hobby!
Each collector has a goal – to find this or that item that is missing in his collection. And at the same time when this goal is achieved, the collector starts looking for another item that can be even more difficult to get. Ad infinitum.
From the point of view of the collector, cacti represent the greatest interest: in fact there are more than three thousand cactus species, so there’s always something to look for. By the way, still nobody has a complete cactus collection at present.
If we take cognitive value of cactus collecting , perhaps, cacti have no contenders in this respect. In contrast to coins or stamps they are alive, they require a closer and more careful approach. It is necessary to understand their needs, “tastes”, even “whims”, and for this purpose you will need a great experience and knowledge.
That fact that a cactus lover deals with alive plants seems to me very important also because everyday care for cactuses, observation of different phases of their development, germination of seeds or unwrapping petals help the person to get closer to nature, to get to know pleasure of a gardener, and this pleasure can be yours everyday throughout the whole year. Cactuses don’t require much space and can grow in room conditions. A large collection of cacti can be easily placed on a window-sill.
It is impossible to ignore the aesthetic side of collecting cacti. I don’t know why cactuses are sometimes called “green freaks”, but I know for sure that those who call them so never saw cactuses as they really are: all what they saw is just emaciated echinopsises and clumsy prickly pears. I’m delighted with cactus plants – they have sculptural cleanliness of the form, generous richness of colours and filigree and lacy patterns of fuzzes and thorns! To say nothing of flowering: cactus flowers are the finest in the world: they have characteristic metal shine and a nacreous transparency of edges.
The most interesting thing is that the beauty of cactuses is not seasonal, as it is in case of deciduous plants. Cactuses are equally beautiful throughout the whole year, if kept and cared properly.
And last but not least, there’s one thing that makes collecting cacti pretty much different from, say, collecting postcards, ancient porcelain or Chinese masks. You can look for, buy, exchange, classify and describe all these items, you can become a real expert in the given area, but you will never feel happiness of creation that every cactus collector can feel. And it’s a real happiness when you have the opportunity to create a beautiful plant from a tiny seed or a cutting, and the entire process of such creation is in your hands.