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ISSUE 7 (8):

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17.04.1907 - 04.1990

Photo 1. Andrey P. Sokolov, 26-28,05. 1978, Baku

A condensed version of the article by E.Lapidus published in the magazine of the Alma-Ata club "Astrophitum" №4, 1987 dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Andrey P. Sokolov.

Both experienced cactophiles and beginners in this country know this name. His contribution to cacti-growing in the USSR was immense.

Tell us about your background.

I was born April 17, 1907 in Brno (Czechoslovakia). My parents were peasants. I graduated from a technical college, faculty of construction and architecture. During my study every year I had practice for about 5 months. I learnt from important Dutch, Italian, French, German and British architects. October 10, 1931 I came to Moscow.

Photo 2. Andrey P. Sokolov, May 1982

The country needed specialists as it grew and built new towns. This is how the most important part of my life began. Our group included 11 architects. We planed and built towns. January 1946 I moved to Alma-Ata. I have worked as a chief architect for 20 years there. In 1963 I retired.

What was your first meeting with cacti like? The first cactus, which started Sokolov's famous collection that included about a thousand species and varieties of cacti, was Echinopsis tubiflora (1950).

In 1963 five cactophiles found a club in Alma-Ata. In a year we were already ten and I was elected the Chairman. I have remained in the office for 23 years.

Please tell us about International Organization for Succulent Plant Study (IOS)

Photo 3. From left to right: V. Boxer (Angarsk), A.Sokolov, I. Klopotov (Angarsk), V. Mrinskiy (Sumi) - May 1982 (Both photos are from V. Boxer archive

I was elected a member of IOS (the first of Russian cactophiles - E.L.) in 1972. Now three members represent this country in IOS. The two others are Georgiy Volskiy and Vladimir Mrinskiy.

A beginner came to you …

I will give him three plants as a present hoping that he will keep his love to these incredibly interesting plants through his love.

From the compiler. I was lucky to be in correspondence with Andrey P. Sokolov for four years. Here are some extracts from his last letters to me.

"Dear Walery, I apologize for not writing to you for so long. I will explain why." It is because he was seriously ill. He spent 32 days in the hospital. He was told that his cancer couldn't be operated on because of the age. As a result "I can't hold more than 1 kg. I can walk slowly on a smooth road… I will have to sell 2/3 of my collection and probably the entire library. What is it for if I can't work with it… I gave up 2000 slides to organize their rent all through the country."

Photo 4. Andrey P. Sokolov and his collection

As you see even being in such a crucial situation he thinks of organizing the rent of slides. He advised me as a person who is interested in colored forms of cacti to turn to the editor of ІKakteen sukkulenten redaktionІ magazine. "When you write to Dr. Wolfram Spanowsky you can send my regards to him, we've been in correspondence with him for many years." He asked me for the names of cacti clubs chairmen in several towns to precise his list. In another letter before his disease he told me with delight that he had received a letter from Otakar Sadovskiy - his old friend from Brno, Czechoslovakia, who had informed him about the choice of stocks for the colored forms of cacti.

This is so like Andrey P. Sokolov.


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