My first ever Christmas amaryllis — Karen — is about to bloom. Beside her is my 4 year old Christmas cactus who can’t decide whether to be red or red and white. I think she deserves a new pot this coming year for the hard work she’s put out on behalf of my Colorado Christmases. My bright pink geranium is happy and the red one is about to bloom.
I’m not a “plant” person in that I don’t put a lot of effort into these guys, but they seem to like me anyway. Or, maybe, it’s where they live — in a south window atop my grandmother’s sewing machine.
They lead a communal life — I think that helps them thrive — and I don’t mess with them much. I let them dry out between waterings and talk to them appreciatively from time to time because I LIKE them very much, but I think they know their business better than I do. A plant-passionate friend has given me a begonia and a dying aloe vera. I need to repot the begonia and I think I saved the aloe-vera.
My mom was fascinated by cactus and begonias. My Aunt Martha grew EVERYTHING. Way back in the 70s, she gave me a giant philodendron in a huge pot as a house-warming present when I moved into an apartment that I loved. I decorated it for Christmas one year.
Though I’m not a “house plant person,” and I try not to accumulate them, house plants have always been a major thing in my family — my Aunt Dickie kept a bougainvillea in Montana as a house plant for YEARS, I mean more than 20 years. My grandmother, also in Montana, the owner of the sewing machine, nurtured an oleander. He lived in the root cellar during Montana’s cold winters. I can’t say either the oleander or the bougainvillea “thrived” but simple (ha ha, simple) survival is eloquent and the bougainvillea and the oleander both grew to resemble a Japanese flower arrangement.
My “exotic” plant is not so exotic. It’s a rosemary plant, but it has features. Originally it was the kind of potted rosemary plant sold in the stores for cooking, with a warning, “This plant is for kitchen use,” and something to the effect, “Don’t try to plant it It won’t grow.” I don’t cook with rosemary. I just wanted it for my kitchen window, and it kept growing. “I love you, Martha,” it said, “plant me.” It didn’t only grow, it made babies. Yes, rosemary’s babies.
It’s three years old now. In my California life, I planted rosemary so it grew everywhere. It’s a great plant. Drought tolerant, fragrant, you can cook with it, keeps bugs away. About a year after I moved here, I went to dinner at someone’s house where there was rosemary growing in the kitchen. I touched it’s branches and smelled the fragrance and knew that I wanted that bit of my old life in my new one. She hangs with me in my “studio”, facing an east window this winter, and is very happy there. I know other rosemary plants are fuller and maybe “thrive” more obviously, but she wasn’t supposed to grow at all. Since she came in this fall, she’s grown three inches, has put out some new branches, and is likely to bloom soon. She’s scrawny, but she’s mine. ❤