The result of ‘One Man’s Dream’ and a lot of determination
Jim Halls’ passion for cacti was initiated by his fathers’ collection when he was a child. He perceived there was a genuine fascination for people who came to his fathers’ garden who were amazed by the different shapes and colors of the plants in his collection.
When Jim’s father decided to sell his collection in 1979, Jim decided there was no way anyone else was going to buy them, this was an opportunity not to be passed by. So 3 months before Jim was to marry Julie, a local schoolteacher, with no gardening background what so ever, they purchased the collection.
For the next four years they looked after the plants on their 3-acre property, slowly propagating new seed and planting bigger specimens in the ground to allow them to grow faster. Of course they still had to make an income, so Julie continued to teach and Jim picked fruit at local orchards and pruned in the winter.
This was a frustrating time for Jim, because he could envisage a greatopportunity to develop a cacti and succulent garden for tourists, but he didn’t have the finance to back up the plans. He worked very hard, even growing tomatoes and strawberries to try and get ahead to be able to finance his vision. Four years later Jim and Julie purchased this property which was a peach orchard; they bulldozed the trees and began setting up the gardens.
In 1984 they purchased a second collection, which had belonged to Mr. Ed Kroemer, a bachelor from Loxton in SA who had traveled the world collecting cacti. When he passed away, he requested in his will that his collection be kept together. His brothers and sisters took over a year to find someone who would fulfill their brothers’ wishes. We hope that Ed is happy with the home they have come to.
On October 21, 1988, Mr Ken Jasper, MLA, officially opened “Spikes and Blooms”. Since then the gardens have grown from ½ an acre to over 8 acres, and the name has been changed to Cactus Country.
You will notice the new expansions that are taking place on the outer edges of the existing garden. Jim’s dream is still well and truly alive and growing and I’m sure you’ll hear a lot more about Cactus Country in the future.
We hope you enjoy your visit and leave with a greater appreciation of these fascinating plants called Cacti and Succulents.