August 11, 2010
I have been in touch with Marja through Johan Pot. He had sung the beauty of her collection so much that I was greatly curious to visit her.
Marja started to collect cacti 25 years ago. In 1988 she decided to specialize in Sulcorebutia. Today, her collection is made of about 2000 plants. She has been on the field several times : she has made three trips to Bolivia including two with Johan Pot. So we can say that she knows those plants !
However, Marja has still some other genera : Lobivia, Rebutia, Aylostera, Digitorebutia ... All these plants spend the summer in some kind of elevated cold frame (see photo on the right). The system has been very well thought out : the front and roof of the frame are removable. Plants can be completely outdoors when the weather permits, but can be protected when it is too fresh or rainy. In the winter all those plants go back into the large greenhouse with the sulcos.
The sulcorebutias are in a large conventional greenhouse though it is a bit original ! Indeed, there is a small pond in the garden and it seems that the greenhouse has been built according to this pond.
The collection is simply beautiful. I could see there huge plants that are certainly as old as Marja’s passion for the sulcos. Just like in all collections, the least cm2 is occupied. Still, everything seems perfectly ordered and each plant is easily accessible.
Because I cannot speak Dutch, we have discussed in English, a language that Marja speaks very well (although she says she does not.) Marja is a very nice person who is very familiar with its plants and can speak about them at length. She has really extraordinary treasures : I had never seen a pot of 20 cm in diameter full up with a taratensis or a langerii !
Marja had recently repotted a good part of her collection, so I have received lots of cuttings and offsets. I guess that I should not be the only one to benefit from her largesse !
A collection that I recommend to all Sulcorebutia enthusiasts.
If you want to know a little bit more about Marja and her wonderful collection, I invite you to watch a short video. This is a documentary made by Mr. Fokko van der Straaten for the Dordrecht local television entitled « Visiting Marja van der Pieterman ». It is Dutch spoken (you can hear Marja speaking). If you speak Dutch like me, you can still watch the film and enjoy the images.