PERSONS: Elena Simonova
A. Simonova (photo 1, at left), Ust'-Labinsk, Krasnodar Region, Russia (Northern Caucasia). Elena became a cactus enthusiast in 1980, but then there was a long break. In 1997 she started her hobby again on a more solid basis. All cacti in her collection are raised from seeds (photos 2 – 5).
"I don't know what to say regarding the size of the collection. Some people think it's a huge one, but I feel it's not big enough. I always want to get something new. I used to think that this desire would vanish with time and I would decide what exactly I'd like to see in my collection. But this didn't work," says Elena about her hobby.
"Plants with unusual appearance attract me the most: cristate, monstrose, species that develop beautiful bushes, unusual spines, and wool. I have a special attitude to variegated forms, this year I raised about 20 seedlings of hybrid Astrophytum -- all variegated and growing on their own roots. Among my seedlings I often come across dichotomic ones, sometimes there are cristates and variegated cultivars (photo 6-10)."
"Of the regular forms of cacti, I prefer Astrophytum, Ariocarpus, Mammillaria, Turbinicarpus. This year I finished building my greenhouse (photo 11)".
Anyone who met Elena would be surprised by diversity of her passions. It's just amazing! Where can a person get that much energy and time? She has a husband and two sons and responsible for all household chores. She works as a company lawyer, owns a house and a garden. "My backyard," Elena continues, "is all covered with alpinariums and rare plants. I have planted many Ephedras and more than 100 bushes of roses, half of which are miniature roses.
"Also I like my pets -- a 8-years old East European Shepherd (it's a very smart and a sly dog), a white rat (died recently), who liked to rest on my shoulder and listen to snoring of my cat, lying nearby. I have a 100-liter aquarium, full of fishes. Besides all, I have purely women's hobbies -- I am very good at sewing, knitting and crocheting," she adds.
Here she is -- Elena Simonova, a person of inexhaustible energy.