Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Another beautiful spring day here in Bellingham.  Now that my summer annuals are in the pots around the patio, it officially feels like we're edging into summer.  I'm not a natural gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I love the colors of various flowers, and have had fairly good luck with indoor plants over the years as well.  I have two giant Christmas cacti that bloom various times of the year, though, oddly, not usually at Christmas.  One of them--the white one--my children gave me for Mother's Day the first year we lived out in Sequim, 1991, I think it was.  The pink-flowered cactus, Beve bought me year or so later.  So both of those plants are at least 15 years old.  But, believe it or not, they're the youngest of my indoor plants.  When we were first married, Beve's mom gave me a plant that has been thriving ever since.  Twenty-five years of giant green leaves (with maroon stems), pinkish blooms in the spring and all kinds of elephant-trunk stems.  I should really look it up in Sunsest's Western Garden, but it doesn't matter.  To me, it's Grammie's plant and that's good enough.

I also have two large pots of shamrocks.  These came from a small bunch my father gave me when I left home for college in Eugene.  In the fall of 1977.  Yep, 32 years ago.  My dad was the indoor plant person in our house, watering, transpotting shoots, dividing.  The shamrock he gave me was from a plant he'd gotten from his mother a few years earlier.  I carted my shamrock to and from Oregon, left it with Dad while I lived in Holland, picked it up again when I got married, and have shlepped it all over this state.  I've repotted it a time or two, but it wasn't until two years ago that I finally divided it into two giant pots.  I intend to give one of them to E when she finally has her own home.  The other I'll divide for SK (J?  Somehow I think he'd let a plant die without batting an eyelash!).

But the oldest plant in our house isn't even mine.  It's a salmon-flowered geranium of E's.  She was given it by Grammie's best friend in Pullman.  Grammie had brought this geranium to Laura sometime in the 60s, when they were both newcomer wives at WSU.  Laura gave it to E when E first started at WSU and brought it home last spring when she went off to Colorado. I have been guarding it with my life (so to speak), carefully bringing it into the house before the first frost, though I yearly allow my own geraniums to die off.  I'm not about to be the one to kill this old lady.  Just this afternoon, I repotted it in an old aluminum tub and sat it on our back deck so it can thrive in the sun alongside my pots of thyme, mint and cilantro (I still need to buy some basil).

It makes me happy caring for these plants.  I used to have more of them, but these are the ones with histories, the ones that remind me of people I love.  I love that variation of color outside on my patio, the greens of the trees swaying overhead.  These ornamental plants can do nothing for me, but they live, like lilies in the fields, cloaked in the glory of creation, and the glory of history.  If they do nothing else, that's plenty.

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