So I have this plant by my desk. It started out pretty small as a gift from my son for my birthday, Mother’s Day, some occasion a couple of years ago.
Long known to have a black thumb — as in the opposite of a green thumb — keeping plants alive is a herculean challenge for me. The only ones I’ve managed not to kill in quick order is a ficus plant I’ve named Frankie, given to me when my father died.
I figure my dad is looking down and looking out for Frankie because she (I’ve had her long enough not to call her an it anymore) had to be trimmed last year because her top leaves brushed the ceiling.
The new and yet unnamed plant I’m taking credit for. OK, the credit actually belongs to the cleaning lady who waters it and the plant’s natural determination to live. I must be honest.
I long ago lost the tag that came with the plant. All I remember is that it’s some sort of tropical foliage and it has big green leaves.
You can imagine my amazement, after walking past its pot day after day for months and months, in seeing small buds on it last year. Excitement reigned; I called my son to tell him after I made my co-workers come take a look, too.
The flowers came at the base of the plant, which was kinda weird, and they were orange fading into yellow. There were four or five of them which I photographed to celebrate the occasion.
That drove me to do some checking on the Internet. Okay, I still don’t remember what the name of the doggone plant is but I know it grows in rain forests and blooms as often as annually and as seldom as every three years.
Well, I got an every-year one. The buds started about two weeks ago and last Thursday, before I went out of town for a funeral, I counted six or seven full flowers.
Yes, I took a picture of them with my cell phone and sent the photo to my son who was vacationing in Myrtle Beach. He’s a good son and acted excited about it although I’m pretty sure my posey picture didn’t hold a candle to the sun and fun of his family vacation.
Once again I was surprised when I walked back into the office yesterday morning. Instead of a clutch of flowers, the plant has produced a near-bouquet. The flowers are all coming off this stalk-like thing and they’re quite gorgeous.
I think I’ll take a close-up picture of this mini-miracle and have it enlarged for my refrigerator door. And that way, every time a poinsettia fades away after Christmas or an Easter lily turns yellow before spring is over, I’ll be able to see the physical proof that not all plants die when I touch them.
When the wild violets and the creeping whatever takes over my flower bed again this year and chokes the life out of my petunias and marigolds, I can console myself with the proof of my one victory.
And whenever I face the accusations nobody can do in a plant like me, I’ll point in the direction of that picture and explain that it’s really not me, it’s the climate.
Who knows, I could be gardener of the year if I took up residence in the middle of the Amazon rain forest.
CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at email@example.com