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The Giving Plants

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The spring orchid show has begun. Burana Beauty, whose flowers opened a few days ago, is now in full color and scent, filling the room with a wildly sweet perfume. These flowers are so lovely they wouldn't have to be fragrant too, but they are. This plant is tough and willing and I love it. It's an honor to share a bedroom with Burana Beauty.

This is my favorite phalaenopsis, a keikei (offshoot) of one of Shila's plants. It was tiny when I got it in 2002, but it's my best phal. by far. See the kink in its stem? I was preparing for the Big Sit crowd of birders and naturalists to descend on us last October, and this plant was to be my table centerpiece, and its flowers were just opening as they are right now, and I decided to stake the blossom spike just in case it got knocked around, and I bent it just a wee bit too far and it snapped off in my hand. All that beauty, those months of beautiful flowers, snapped off, and there wasn't a darn thing I could do to fix it. I cried for two hours, I am not kidding. But the orchid's heart went on, and it sent out a replacement spike, and now, four months later, it is in glorious bloom again, and I am staying away from it with my big dumb fingers.

Last summer, Shila and I went on the Marietta Garden Tour, which we try to do every year. Snooping around in other people's gardens is more fun than watching Cops (when you get to snoop around in their yucky houses). No, I'd say that the garden tour is the antithesis of Cops. Anyway, one of the featured gardens was our artist friend Anna's, and hers was full of whimsy and weirdness and fabulous plants. One of them was an absolutely enormous potted clivia (Kafir lily) in full orange bloom. I've always kind of wondered about clivias--they're terribly expensive, usually starting at $50., but people who love them really love them. They bloom when you need it most, in late winter, and they need to go dry and cold before they'll set buds. So I've admired them from afar, but I've never taken the clivia plunge. Shila and I were excitedly admiring this amazing plant and Anna smiled and walked over to another, smaller clivia, also in full bloom, and carried it over and put it in my arms. "I've just found a home for Baby Clivia," she said. We were blown away.

That was July 2005, and it's seven months later, and Baby Clivia is almost as big as her mom, and I got this feeling that she was up to something after a long, cool, dry winter; I'd just stepped up her water and light, and I looked between her long straplike leaves and there were a row of baby toes peeking out at me. So that's how the flowers emerge?? Amazing. I guess I always figured it would be a big old tongue-shaped bud like an amaryllis.

And she has made Clivia III, for whom I will find the perfect home.


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