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USPS launches cactus stamp series at Palomar College succulent garden

SAN MARCOS — The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new succulent-themed stamp series on April 15 at a press event held at the Palomar College Cactus & Succulent Garden located at the school’s San Marcos campus.

The USPS has printed the stamps as part of its Cactus Flowers Forever stamp series. Sold in books of 20, two of the species featured on the stamp set dwell in the succulent garden.

At the press event, officials representing both USPS and Palomar College spoke about the new stamps.

In her remarks, Lisa Baldwin, USPS San Diego Postmaster and master of ceremonies for the unveiling, praised the beauty of the garden in introducing the stamp series.

“Cacti in bloom have been described as ‘Mother Nature’s fireworks,’” Baldwin said. “We would like thank Palomar College for hosting this stamp unveiling within their celebrated cactus and succulent garden. The opportunity to showcase both the new Cactus Flowers stamps and the amazing horticulture found in these gardens was a perfect match.”

Palomar College President Joi Lin Blake called the garden, open by appointment only due to its possession of a host of rare and endangered species, a hidden gem in the area.

“This small garden, less than one acre in size, may be the most unique spot on the San Marcos campus; certainly, it is the college’s best-kept secret,” she said. “In fact, this small garden may be the most unique sanctuary of its kind in San Diego County.”

Ethel Kessler, art director for USPS, designed the stamps via existing photographs taken by John P. Schaefer.

Schaefer, the president emeritus of University of Arizona, was a friend and colleague of the late naturalist photographer Ansel Adams.

Kessler’s art, she explains on her website, aims to tell “America’s story.”

“There is something extraordinarily fulfilling knowing that the talents, intuitions, and strategies you have nurtured over many years contribute to the success of your local and global community,” says Kessler on her design firm’s website. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The Palomar College cactus and succulent garden has existed since 1964.

Palomar College’s San Marcos campus at-large maintains the status of an arboretum, with plants and tree species lining the premises, as well as a stand-alone arboretum located within its epicenter. Only University of California-Davis shares an arboretum status with Palomar College among California higher education institutions.

Dick Henderson, manager of the Palomar College succulent garden, maintains it on a voluntary basis and has done so for the past 20 years.

Henderson spends up to 20 hours per week working in the garden and offers tours by appointment.