I am emotionally attached to my plants.

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Pre-script, written after but edited to go before the post: I’ve made myself snort a laugh about this post: I just told a friend it was hard to write because I hate to get ‘sappy.’ Get it? Its a plant-pun. Oh, leaf me alone, I like puns.

I took and posted a picture on FB today that got me thinking about plants:

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The pic is of one of my lantana bushes that I grew from seed this year. I am very much in love with the four that grew and thrived for me, and I don’t want them to die. I’m so worried that I brought them inside last month so the hurricane winds and rain wouldn’t kill them. I’m also afraid our winter this year will be harsh again, and I know these are semi-tropical plants. I also think they aren’t too pleased to be indoors, and I keep a close eye on them.

I love my lantanas for two reasons. Firstly is because the house I grew up in, in NW Florida, had an empty lot next door that was full of native plants and scrub-brush. Prickly-pear cactus, strange fungi and mosses, wild rosemary, palmetto, pine trees, and lantana bushes. In retrospect, I actually did pay a lot of attention to the flora around me, but that’s probably because I was a very lonely and outdoorsy kind of kid. Anyhoo, the lantana were very close to our property, maybe even on it, as I was never sure where the boundary actually was. I never gave them much thought – they aren’t that pretty and the foliage has a strong smell – until fall arrived. In the autumn the Monarch butterflies would come through on their trek down to Mexico – not the great hordes you see in pictures, but enough that catching them with a butterfly net (ok, it was actually a little fishing net) was great fun and entertainment for hours. I’ve always loved the fall, and always will associate it with lantana: the unique smell it has, the pink and yellow flowers, and the delicate sipping tongues of the Monarchs.

When I moved to Ireland I was shocked to see tiny lantana plants for sale in our local posh (expensive) garden store. I tried not to shout, but what came out of my mouth was, “That’s a weed! How can they sell it for €20? It’s a stinky, huge weeeeeeed!”

But I secretly wanted one.

Last October, I got to go to visit my sister in South Carolina, to meet my only niece for the first time. I won’t go into great detail about the visit – it was a year ago and I was there for two weeks! I’d be here all day. Wish I had a blog then, though. Anyhow, one fine day we went to the beach, my little niece’s first ever visit. On the way back to the car I spotted a scraggly lantana, in seed, at the edge of the parking lot. So I gathered a few berries to bring home, not having any idea if, or how, they were meant to germinate.

Double-special, these little plants! A reminder of one of the few good memories of childhood. A bit of home, when I am so very far away from all the places my memories were formed, and a physical memento of a great visit and a ‘baby’s first’. Hopefully, I will have these little green friends forever.

Here’s another plant, a houseplant, that I have an emotional connection to:

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Doesn’t look like much, does it? It’s a common Christmas cactus. But it is special, because it comes from my grandmother’s cactus, originally. Grammy died in… oh hell…I’m guessing 1976, 1977 at the latest. I was really young, so I don’t have a reference point to pin it down more accurately. Grammy was our mom’s mom, and Mom inherited the cactus when her mother died. The cactus lived outside (Florida, remember?) and it bloomed around Thanksgiving (end of November) rather than Christmas, so we called it the Thanksgiving Cactus. Although, as you can see, it blooms for Halloween in Ireland – and also in late April or May – an Easter-ween cactus?

Fast forward to 1998, the last time I lived in Florida. When my mother died, I took a cutting from the Thanksgiving Cactus and started my own plant.

Fast forward again to 2005, when I moved to Ireland. I wasn’t allowed to bring my plants! I took cuttings from nearly everything I had growing. I couldn’t use soil, to prevent any potential disease being brought in. I put them in water, in glass jars, inside double zipper bags and then boxed them up in my shipping container in the dark for 5 weeks…

Some cuttings survived and grew again, but very few. The one I was really worried about was the Thanksgiving cactus – and you can see, it is fine, happy and healthy.

I have known this one plant for over 30 years. To me, this bit of beauty is more than a plant, it is a living gift from two beautiful women. I don’t have them anymore, but I do have a cactus that has grown and flowered for three generations of my family. Of course I love it.

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8 responses »

  1. I didn’t even know you took back some lantana! Glad it’s growing for you there. Enjoyed your post – you definitely have a much better memory than I do. 🙂

    • You don’t? I remember you said it might be poisonous and to watch out that the cats didn’t eat it. I used a dog-poo bag you had in the car to save the seeds, my horseshoe crab and big sanddollar! Maybe it is just dates I have trouble with…

  2. I am not good with plant.. Never was.. However, about two months ago I was staying at a friends overnight (who has loved plants everywhere) & I fell in love! The two I really loved she pulled a bit off & told me to plant them..she put them in a sandwich bag & inserted some damp
    Kitchen rOll. Ffw a few weeks, I find this bag in my pocket.. Shit I think! They’re dead.. I put them in some soil in a fancy pot just to pretend I tried..) ffw to today, they are thriving & growing strong! I have also purchased 2 other plants since which are thriving! Everytime I pass them I think.. I have arrived.. I’ve reached zen! Lol x

    • I used to kill everything in a pot. Once I figured out the secret, I became an indoor plant master! I’ll share if you like? Good thing to keep those little green friends around to remind you of your friend and your visit 🙂

  3. Honey, it may just be the hormones but this post is your most touching yet. That cactus has gone to such great lengths to live and be that living memory for you that it makes me cry tears of happiness that you have something that special with you. I love you my dear. You are simply magical with plants.

    • Thank you! This was hard to write, I don’t like getting emotional. Believe me, I could have gone for super-weepy but I’m not made that way. I wanted to say why I like plants so much, each of them has a story. Bird emailed me one of her stories, I wish she had put it in the comments!

      • I think we often make connections to plants because they, like us, are living. Living, but often last longer than an animal. I was never good with plants until I started buying the cheap “Help us we’re dying” plants at Hell-Mart and places like Home Depot. Maybe because I didn’t fuss over them and let them live or dye if they would, they often lived.

        I left everything behind when I moved up here. I just couldn’t ship them. Plus I didn’t know how long we’d be at Kent’s sisters and what room we’d have. So I was plantless for a long time. I lost a few that I loved for various reasons. I recently “stole” a part of a plant from outside my Neurosurgeons office. It was one of my vary favorites. If it doesn’t set root… I’ll steal more.

  4. Pingback: Oh, jazuz, it’s been two years! | heretherebespiders

Thoughts? Gardening tips? Cocktail recipes? Don't just like and leave, please - I can talk for Ireland and would love to prove it!

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