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Spike is back! Aberdeen’s favourite cactus returns to Duthie Park Winter Gardens after two-year holiday

'Spike' the talking cactus is back in action at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Picture by Kath Flannery.
'Spike' the talking cactus is back in action at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. Picture by Kath Flannery.

One of the most popular Duthie Park characters is returning to Aberdeen after a two-year holiday.

Spike the Cactus has spent most of the pandemic travelling around the world, from Sydney to the Mojave Desert, but will now return to the tropical climate of the Winter Gardens.

The talking cactus has been entertaining visitors at the garden’s Arid House for decades – with their voice changing from male to female depending on their mood.

Miranda Radley, Aberdeen City Council’s operational delivery convener, said: “Spike was allowed a special extended annual leave during Covid and, being a barrel cactus, they weren’t affected by the virus so was free to travel around the world.

“It looks like they had a great time seeing all these places, however, it is fantastic they decided to come back home to the Winter Gardens to be enjoyed by everyone, young and old.”

Spike the Talking Cactus will return to the Winter Gardens on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Aberdeen City Council.

‘Pretty fly for a cacti’

Spike lived at the Winter Gardens from 1980 until their “cheeky demeaner” got them removed in 1998. After a successful campaign in the city, the talking cactus made a welcome return in 2011.

The family favourite has assisted in several marriage proposals over the years and represented Aberdeen City Council at the Glasgow Flower show.

Many locals also took part in a competition to guess the number of spikes with the winner guessing within two spikes of their 1,666. The young girl now has a tree in the park with a commemorative plaque for her win.

Spike the Talking Cactus at the Winter Gardens, Duthie Park with the team Bill Smith, Bill Thomson, Nigel McLeod, Phil Roger and Jim Nicol in 1998.

Councillor Ian Yuill, operational delivery vice convener, added: “Spike has been a great favourite in the Winter Gardens with residents and visitors alike for many years and he took a well-deserved holiday in the last two years.

“I’m sure they will be welcomed back by everyone and will be a popular attraction again.”


Duthie Park is looking for “chatty” volunteers to help bring Spike to life and entertain visitors of all ages.

Anyone interested should speak to the staff at the Winter Gardens.

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