New Online!  The 1993 Special Edition, 67 pages of plant fun and photos from The Amateurs’ Digest

The Amateurs' Digest, Special Edition 1993
The Amateurs’ Digest, Special Edition 1993

The Special Edition of 1993 is bound in a white plastic spiral.  This is no doubt because there are too many pages to fold and staple (saddle-stitch).

I am doing way more than scanning at this point.  I am trimming and adding clean white borders; I am tossing the pages into Photohop to straighten them out.  I am Photoshopping the photos to revive them by adding brightness and contrast.

Marina would have been 85 years old on the 29th of November 2019.  Her Special Edition from 1993 is online today in her honor.  (Happy birthday, Ma!)

I’m Kathleen, Marina’s daughter, and I don’t know anything about cactus plants.  Why do I always say that?  So you won’t send me cactus questions I can’t answer, and then you’d wonder, why does that woman have a cactus site if she doesn’t know anything about cactus!  The site is for my mother.

Happy 85th Birthday, Marina!
From your daughter, Kathleen.

Happy Holidays!  We are celebrating 2019-2020 with a Holiday Issue from 1995

Since the Holidays are coming up for 2019-2020, I have chosen to scan one of Marina’s own Holiday issues for you to enjoy.  The plants on the cover (excuse me, I don’t know what they are) look like Christmas candles.  Merry Cactusmas!  This is Volume 6, Issue 5, January 1995.

Happy Holidays from The Amateurs' Digest
The Amateurs’ Digest, “Happy Hollidays” issue:from January 1995 (Volume 6, Issue 5)

Happy Holidays! everyone.  I’m Kathleen, Marina Welham’s daughter, and I don’t know anything about cactus plants.

New Online!  Cacti & Other Succulents, Issue No. 1 from May 1989

Cacti & Other Succulents, Issue No. 1, May 1989
The first-ever print edition of The Amateurs’ Digest under its original name, Cacti & Other Succulents.

Now, here’s a real collector’s item:  Marina’s first-ever print edition of The Amateurs’ Digest under its original name, Cacti & Other Succulents.

This was a toughie to scan.  It took me as long to scan this 8-page first issue as it has taken me to scan some of her 40-page later issues.  The challenge is due to the fact that the only copies I could get of these early issues were trimmed and hard-bound into book format by a private collector.  Some article titles and most page numbers are cut off at the top.  I had to copy and paste certain things to complete each page.  Nonetheless, it was worth the effort to have the very first issue online at last from May of 1989.  The page size for this original Newsletter is also different from the later issues of The Amateurs’ Digest.

Whoever hard-bound these issues into volumes must have been an early subscriber.  A circular letter dated “April, 1989”.from “(Mrs.) Marina Welham” precedes the very first issue.  This is a great introduction to the origins of The Amateurs’ Digest.  It’s included with the scan of the first issue, and it reads:

Dear Fellow Hobbyist,

First of all, let me introduce myself.  I have been an AVID hobbyist for a number of years — still, however, very much classified in the ‘amateur hobbyist’ category.

Some months ago I wrote a short note in the American Cactus and Succulent Journal asking that other isolated cactophiles contact me.  To my delight some wonderful letters came ina nd I have made new and rewarding friends as a result.  The letters were circulated.  More friendships resulted.  Information, plants and seeds have eagerly been exchanged.  And for each one of us the chance to share with others has increased the joy of our hobby a hundred fold.

Now we feel the need to reach out a hand and try to enlarge our circle of hobbyist friends.

Trying to begin the publication and distribution of a brand new Newsletter to provide an INFORMATION EXCHANGE between hobbyists is no easy task and was not, I assure you, a decision made lightly.  Probably the one most significant reason I decided to go ahead iwth it was this recurring theme in most letters I received …

“I wasn’t quite sure if I were alone out there or not!”

To date a great deal of thought, time and effort and personal expense have gone into the preparation of the first issue.  This first issue is meant as a base on which to build future issues as Members begin to contribute because that is what this Newsletter is all about.  A means of communication.  You can ask questions, share information, buy and sell plants, etc., etc.

COS will be THE Newsletter FOR and BY amateur hobbyists and will be published six times a year.  Subscription rates are based on carefully calculated costs for printing and postage and DO NOT cover expenses to date or the extensive work that will do into editing, publishing and mailing it to you.

From a strictly business standpoint and so that you know to whom your subscription dollars go, as Editor I have an extensive business management and writing background.  I am originally from Montreal and have been resident of Victoria, B.C. for the past eleven years.

We would love to have you join us as a member of COS and will look forward to not only receiving your subscription but also to hearing from you with questions, comments, articles, drawings, photographs (black and white), etc.  Photos, by the way, will be returned if requested and if you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

If for any reason — at any time — it becomes not feasible to continue publishing this Newsletter, the balance of your subscription which cannot be fulfilled WILL BE PROMPTLY REFUNDED TO YOU.


Marina Welham

Cacti & Other Succulents - Issue No. 1 May 1989
Cacti & Other Succulents – Issue No. 1 May 1989, scanned from inside a bound volume.
I personally know that Marina was an avid hobbyist.  As far back as 1985, I was mailing unusual cactus plants to her from Montreal.  My most spectacular cactus gift to Marina was a 6-foot-long hanging plant in full yellow bloom.  I had to wrap it in bath towels, slide the bath-towels into a zippered garment bag, and the garment bag into a huge cardboard box for shipping.

As a treat to celebrate the fact that Marina’s very first print issue, Cacti & Other Succulents, is now on the World Wide Web, I am giving her readers (and the search engines) three short articles from it, also linked on the Articles Revived tab in the top menu bar:

  1. “Jatropha Podagrica” By Mary Suski deFisher
  2. “Starting From Scratch:” “Culture of Cacti and other Succulents” By Grace Rollerson
  3. “Flowering Your Cacti” By Heather Farmer

Have a great day, everybody.

I’m Kathleen, Marina’s daughter; and I don’t know anything about cactus plants.

The Amateurs’ Digest 1994 Special Edition is Now Online!

The Amateurs' Digest 1994 Special Edition
The Amateurs’ Digest 1994 Special Edition
The Amateurs’ Digest 1994 Special Edition is now online.  It arrived from Terrace Horticultural Books on Tuesday, this week, the 17th of September 2019 along with 19 other issues.  So my scanning homework is mounting!

A “Special Edition” is the extra issue published annually after each of the 6-issue volumes of The Amateurs’ Digest had been completed.

Read the 1994 Special Edition now.

The 1994 Special Edition runs to 60 pages, including front and back covers. My favorite in this issue is the really nice black and white botanical sketches by artist Carla Wolters of Holland to illustrate … here’s a nice tongue-twister: “Mesembryanthemaceae,” by Doug Rowland, starting on page 46.

Mesembryanthemaceae “
Botanical illustrations by artist Carla Wolters of Holland

Click on an illustration to view them all in a slideshow.

Also in this issue:

  • Seed raising
  • Propagation
  • Fertilizing
  • Grafting (Cacti and the Other Succulents)
  • Report on a Very Unique Aloe
  • Bromeliads including Succulent Types
  • Lots of Excellent Photos

The 1994 Special Edition sold at $4-$5 apiece depending on the country shipped, plus postage of about $1 in Canada-USA and $2.50 elsewhere.  You can now read it free online, right here, embedded via Scribd.

This issue came from Terrace complete with its original cover letter from Marina to the subscriber, with the good news of a $2 USD credit for over-payment.

The issue also includes a 6-page tip-in (a multi-page insert also on black and white) announcing current and future publications, and other news of interest for cacti enthusiasts.

I’m an “originalist,” and I like to keep things together that belong together, for historical purposes. Therefore, scans of the cover letter and tip-in have been added to the scan of the journal. I hope you enjoy this wonderful package of plant information from 1994, still current and useful!

Have a great day, everyone.

I’m Kathleen, Marina’s daughter. And I don’t know anything about cactus plants. But that should not stop you readers of this Archive from talking to each other in the comment forms under the posts and pages.

New!  The Amateurs’ Digest, Issue No. 6 of Volume 5 (March 1994) is now online!

The Amateurs' Digest, Issue No. 6 of Volume 5 (March 1994) is now online.
Click on the cover above to read the publication.

The Amateurs’ Digest, Issue No. 6 of Volume 5 (March 1994) is now online.  Vol. 5, Issue 6, March 1994 marks the start of year six for Marina’s print journals.

That same year, Marina published her first Caudex Booklets.  I’m therefore pleased to bring you, at the same time, the first volume of the initial two-volume set of Caudex booklets, now also online.  Look for the special Caudex Booklets menu in the sidebar to find them quickly, as they come online.

New! Marina’s very first Caudex Booklet (No. 1 of 2) is now online!

Caudex Booklet One of Two Booklets (1996)
Caudex Booklet One of Two Booklets (1996)


Caudex Booklet (Booklet No. 1 of 2)

<i>pachypodium lamerei</i> by Royce D. Wood (1974)
pachypodium lamerei by Royce D. Wood (1974)
Marina launched her specialty Caudex booklets in year six of her print publication, The Amateurs’ Digest.  The Caudex booklets are addressed to collectors of mostly Caudex plants.  Unlike TAD, that was made from printers’ plates, the Caudex booklets are photocopies of Caudex articles collected from issues of The Amateurs’ Digest to that date, then folded and saddle-stitched.

There seems to be a bit of a glitch in the ISSNs.  Marina used The Amateur’s Digest ISSN 0843-8234 to cover this first Caudex booklet, but it ought to have had its own ISSN.  We’ll see what was done with the other Caudex booklets as we go along.  I have about a dozen of them, so that’s one down, eleven left to scan.

Booklet Number One features two sketches by Royce D. Wood originally published as limited-edition prints by Singers’ Growing Things in 1975.  We can look forward to more of these wonderful botanical sketches in upcoming Caudex booklets.

This is the first Caudex booklet, and the first issue in a set of two.  Subscribe and look for Caudex booklet number 2!  Here’s what Marina had to say about the Caudex booklets when she launched them:

“This CAUDEX booklet is one of two booklets (not sold separately) which are photocopies of all pages (no advertising) contained in our Caudex section in Volume 3 (when we began featuring Caudex separately) and Volume 4.  These were put together for our many members interested mainly in caudiciform and pachycaul plants who otherwise would have to pay considerably more to purchase back issues to have access to the Caudex information we provided in earlier volumes.  Even if you have our back issues, you may want to have these combined issues which have been newly paged and indexed to give you a quick and easy reference to all Caudex plants covered from when we started the special section to the end of Volume 4.”

I’ve given the Caudex Booklets a menu of their own in the sidebar, right under our logo, so you can find them quickly.

Thanks for following The Amateurs’ Digest Archive (Marina Welham’s Archive).  I’m Kathleen, Marina’s daughter, and I don’t know anything about cactus plants.

UPDATE:  8 September 2019

I have just discovered Marina’s own presentation of her Caudex Booklet No. 1 on The Wayback Machine.  Here it is.


An Introduction by Gordon Rowley
A Bit of History by Gordon Rowley

–(earliest accounts of exotic caudiciforms)

Adenia (How to Grow, Propagate, etc.)
An Introduction by Gordon D. Rowley
Articles, Growing information and Photos:

Begoniaceae by Clive Innes
Caudiciforms – Growing

Caudiciforms – soil for
Caudiciforms, Difficult, soil for

— (3 part how to grow article covering every aspect)

Pachypodiums – Pollination, etc.


A New Journal Issue is up!  Here it is:  Volume 6, Issue 2, July 1994.

The Amateurs' Digest, Volume 6, Issue 2, July 1994. Cover.
The Amateurs’ Digest, Volume 6, Issue 2, July 1994. Cover.
Click on the cover to read the issue!

Marina and Roy Welham of The Amateurs’ Digest

There’s a cartoon at page 9 of this issue with the article, “Dual Speakers:  A Dual Solution” by Calvin J. Eichler.  The two people shaking hands are the spitting image of Roy and Marina, God knows where they found this cartoon, but it’s a real hoot, if you knew them. If you never met them, now you know.

By the way, if you need to OCR scans of documents, this is a great online free tool. I’m using it for The Amateurs’ Digest:

Here it is: Volume 6, Issue 1, May 1994. A scan of the first of the rescued journals

The first journal embed is up, I’m not sure it’s wide enough, but will adjust that another day, it’s getting late and I’m fiddling with two laptops on the free wifi in the Mall.

I’m pretty excited, I think the OCR is good. It’s better than my own OCR software, I certainly recommend checking this out (later) if you need to convert a scan to searchable text:

The little scanner from eBay doesn’t do color very well, it defaults to Black and White (reason for the sale?), so the ivory covers of the journals don’t show up. You’ll have to imagine it: back and front, inside back and front: ivory.

That said, I am pleased to present the first journal scanned from the lot I acquired on eBay this month to really kick-start this web site. Here it is, Volume 6, Issue 1, May 1994, just click on the cover photo (or on the title below it) to visit the embed page:

TAD Volume 6 Issue 1 May 1994
The Amateurs’ Digest
Vol. 6, Issue 1, May 1994

You will notice there is now an asterisk (*) on the 1994 tab in the top horizontal menu at this web site. Whenever I add material to a date on the menu, I will add an asterisk to the year, so you don’t have to search all the years to see if there’s anything in them. Just go straight to the “star”.

The scans of the little 7″ x 8.5″ journals were done at 300 DPI as bmps. Each bmp is 2049 x 2534. All were then converted to PDF using IrfanView. The edges were then cleared up using the same IrfanView. The individual PDFs were linked into a single journal using PDF Tools.

The final searchable (OCR’d) PDF is hosted online in Scribd, for the purpose of embedding it here, at The Amateurs’ Digest Archive.

The final document is 100% free to read online, you can even copy snippets of text, but downloading has been disabled. I really don’t think it would be fair to have zillions of PDF copies all over the Internet being used for whatever purposes. Copyright belongs to The Amateurs Digest Archive and to me, Marina’s daughter: according to her Will, her Executor and sole Heir. Eventually, as volumes become complete, I might consider producing them in Volume groups in the form of paperbacks.

However, I see that Marina had a special issue with each volume, and I’m not yet sure what that means. Did Marina enhance one of the six annual issues and call it “special”, or did she produce a seventh issue as a “special issue”? If you know, please tell me, because if they are extra, I will have to find the special issues.

Yes, the National Library and Archives of Canada (it seems to have been denationalized lately by changing its name to Library and Archives Canada, which I reject), does have Marina’s ISSNs, after all, but they don’t show up on a direct search of their catalog, Amicus; I only found the records by way of links to the ISSN’s at Worldcat.

The copies of Marina’s journals at The National Library and Archives Canada are in preservation off-site, and this usually constitutes a serious problem for researchers, because they don’t bother to photocopy or scan them before they put ’em in the “freezer”. So, there is no copy of any kind to consult unless you take a bus to Ottawa, stand in front of the preservation facility and peer through the glass. Or have a protracted email argument with the librarians who really resent having to get things out of preservation to scan them, as I know because I’ve done it before. And their scans are not going to be publication quality and they won’t let a guest walk in and do it.

So, the National Library and Archives of Canada may not be a great place, after all, to get copies of Marina’s old journals.

I will have to keep scouring the Internet and call on friends and colleagues of Marina’s to come up with things. Notably, with special issues, CD Roms, and in the internet era, PDF booklets that Marina was dispensing. In particular, I would like to find the old CD ROMS because I presume the plant photos contained would be larger and much nicer to work with today, on this web site.

I have given Marina’s old advertisers a boost by adding their names to the TAGS on this post and on on the embed-page, so if these growers are still in business, they may get some visitors looking for them.

It may be awhile before I scan another one of these journals, because this one took hours. I’ve been at it since noon today, and it’s now nearly 21:30 in Montreal. However, I will do one every time I need a break from my regular work, which has taken a back seat to getting this basic site online, for now.

I hope you all enjoy the newly scanned, old paper issue of Marina Welham’s The Amateur’s Digest from May 1994 (Volume 6, Issue 1). Please let me know if you recognize any of the contents from her later web site, because I wonder if she re-used — pardon me: recycled — any of her paper journals when she took the magazine live.

Here’s to you, Marina!

Kind regards,
Have a great day.
I’m Kathleen,
Marina’s daughter
Montreal, Canada