“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful: they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.”
— Luther Burbank, American pioneer in agricultural science (1849-1926)
Bundled up and facing a gusty wind while taking a slow walk down the gravel road to the newspaper box and back, I climbed through the fence railing and walked up the lake’s dam. There in front of me was a single stem with four or five paperwhite narcissus blooms. A flower like that can make your day. Just a little reminder that one day, maybe not far away, spring will come, then summer, and maybe all the sickness will be gone. I plucked the stem and relished in its strong fragrance. Just a small thing, of little consequence, and no cost at all, had made my day and lifted my spirit. Growing things will do that.
Beside the perennial garden next to the goldfish pond is the greenhouse. When temperatures fall below 40 degrees, all the potted plants and any others needing protection are hurried to the greenhouse. Not only does the greenhouse protect the plants for the next year, it also becomes a haven for winter gardening, feeding, watering, pruning, nurturing. As the plants are nurtured, they nurture the nurturer.
Most, not all, of the plants are pass-a-long plants and have multiplied prolifically. A friend contributed two wandering jew plants. Now there are somewhere between eight and ten. They trail themselves along from pot to pot, or I snip them and place them in soil where they start trailing again. The sun touches the pink and purple of the leaves and the plants glow.
There are two bougainvillea plants in full bloom. They bloom more happily in the greenhouse than they did in the summer heat. A Swedish ivy plant thrives and has recently put out its small white blooms. Interestingly, the plant is neither Swedish nor an ivy. It sits by a window on a plant stand and cascades to the floor. A nickname for Swedish ivy is “Creeping Charlie.”
From the grocery store, I planted the tops of pineapples. They are easy to grow and require little care. Research shows it is unlikely a grocery store pineapple plant will produce any fruit. However, I have one pineapple plant that has grown quite large and twice produced a pineapple. The second one is still growing and is currently about six inches. I’ve been reluctant to harvest it but rather see how large it will grow. Also from the grocery is an avocado tree from an avocado pit. Avocado pits are not as easy as pineapples. Only one of many pits has been successful.
Airplane plants are another gift from a neighbor; one that keeps on giving. The “mother” plant sends out long stems carrying baby plantlets that can be planted, thus starting the process all over again. The angel wing begonia is a beauty and also easily propagated. The leaves are shaped like angel wings and underneath the wing the pink flowers fall like a cluster of grapes.
There’s nothing fancy or special about these plants except they require some attention and, in exchange, lift the human spirit.
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