About us

 

Ingrid Schaub Albertz y Ricardo Keim Zwanzger (ƚ January 30th, 2017) decided more than 30 years ago to begin what they call their "third life", which they have dedicated to study, cultivate and reproduce cactus and succulents.

This third life started in Chile after many projects that took them first to the extreme south of the country as young professionals, then to Germany as a young exiled family, to Brazil as a couple dedicated to a public health project and finally back to Chile in the late 1980s.

Driven by the passion for cacti and succulents, the core of their work has been to collaborate in the preservation of the diverse species present in Chile and seriously threatened by drought and eager predation, among many other factors.

When Ricardo travelled to his "fourth life", Ingrid decided to carry on with their work keeping Ricardo's memory alive through the magic of the plants.

Ricardo left in January 2017 to what Ingrid wants to call his "fourth life", leaving us the work they built and developed day by day together during 30 years. He is responsible for having passed on to so many people the contagious enthusiasm for this wonderful world, for the humble things of life, for the simple joy of committing to something that is dear to us. We believe Ricardo is everywhere, in every seed and plant living in our collection.

 

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THE THIRD LIFE

Ingrid is a textile designer and Ricardo was a doctor. Together they spent more than 50 years forging a life in common and a passion that took them unexpectedly to become experts in cactus and succulents.

Their arrival in Chile took place in 1988 when, in the vicinity of the National Park La Campana, they found a beautiful plot of land in the middle of the Alvarado gorge. They decided to name it ALVARALTO, as a combination of words between the name of the gorge and Alvar Aalto, the Finnish architect of light and wood they both liked so much.

In those years Ingrid participated in several exhibitions of her textile work in Santiago, committing important part of her time to work on her tapestry and to offer Patchwork classes.

Back then as an amateur, she began collecting cacti and succulents buying here and there, collecting from the surroundings and interacting with people alike.

At the time there was very little information about the species, scarce specialized literature and also some sweet resistance from her husband Ricardo, engaged in international consulting work for the German government.

Nevertheless in one of Ingrid`s trips to Germany, she discovered a new world of nurseries, literature, specialists, as well as large collections in public greenhouses. Motivated by her findings she decided to contact them, becoming a member of the German Society of Cactus and Succulents and subscribing to their highly respected magazine.

Once back in Chile she offered Ricardo a very special birthday present: a beautiful Euphorbia canariensis which made him surrender to the cactus world.

On his side, Ricardo progressively reduced his commitments to devote time to other interests, while in the nursery the first offspring of their own sowing begin to see life. In 2003 he finally retired from his medical activity and set up for a new life joining Ingrid for a third life project.

Ingrid and Ricardo dedicated passionately and consciously most of their time to the study of cacti and succulents. Throughout these 30 years they were able to give life to a unique Collection with approximately 4,000 varieties, usually from plants originating in their own nursery. At the same time, they have a cactus and succulent garden which is permanently expanding.

Their nursery of Cactus and Suculentas is properly registered in the SAG (Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service).

During all these years they participated in countless activities and exhibitions within the country. They also spent a great part of their time conducting multiple study trips to the habitat of Chilean cacti, and also making field visits to Argentina, Brazil, USA and South Africa.

Their work and field research led them to discover and describe new varieties of native cactus from Chile, especially the type Copiapoa and Eriosyce, varieties never studied before. Their findings were published in the prestigious magazine Cactus & Co.

Ingrid and Ricardo were invited to offer courses on cacti and succulents for Club de Jardines de Chile and Universidad de Chile, facilitating talks in several institutions within the country and, in 2004, at the Cactus Club of Oldenburg, Germany.

In 2006, they were in Sicily, Italy, invited by the European Congress to share their vast knowledge on Chilean cacti.

Today Ingrid carries on the work with the same love her and Ricardo shared in a lifetime together.