Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Plant Connection

April 17, 2011 “Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; 
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.” 
Luther Burbank

If you walk around my house, you will see plants in several rooms, mostly getting eastern sun, from which they flourish. My plants comprise a part of my life, my history, because many of them are from people whom I love. Some plants are many years old, and every time I care for them with water, fertilizer. and trimming, I send a little thought to the person that has a connection to the plant.

The Plant Connection

Sundays, early in the day,

I water the plants, and say hello

to various relatives and friends. These plants

have lived with me for a long time, keeping the air clean and humid,

providing shades of green that are poems in themselves:

jade, teal, asparagus, celadon and chartreuse.

Their bright spark of blooms

are daily gifts to my eyes.

Here, the beefsteak begonia (Begonia erythrophylla),

from my grandmother Sarah, offers

tiny pink blooms on long, thin branches.

My grandmother, whose name also blesses

my daughter, threw seeds out that grew into her wild garden.

She wished for no calm flower beds in her yard.

As a young child, I hid among the plants,

making stories with the hens and chickens, the bluebells, and the bread and butter flowers.

And she taught me how wonderful are the houseplants,

keeping growing in mind during the drab months of winter.

There, the Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata),

lopped off at one time

because of its leaning tendency,

springing now into the largest plant, healthy, vibrant, strong.

It came to me as a remembrance of my

father-in-law. He, years gone, but too soon, comes into

my memory as I water and trim the leaves.

I remember his loving teasing, his gardening expertise

that fed us well in our early marriage—

the rich red of the tomatoes, bright yellow corn on the cob, the cool green of lettuces.

I water less the phalaenopsis, purple orchid, but attend to it

nonetheless. It is a gift from a friend to honor my mother’s passing.

I think of friendship and my mother

as I pass by.

There are others: the peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

from another dear one’s funeral,

the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)

begun as a tiny sprout from a neighbor,

the Old Man cactus (Cephalocereus senilis),

a birthday gift from my husband,

and the shamrock (Oxalis regnellii) given to me

from a friend so long ago.

The plant and the friendship, still thriving.

I finish the watering by giving thanks for my blessings, of houseplants and friends, of blossoms and family. Like the plants, my life fills with the careful tending of my friends and family too.


  1. Hens and chicks, those bring back memories. My mom had lots in our rock garden along with daffodils.
    I would so like to be a plant person. But alas, I am not. Maybe I'll try again after I retire.
    I do have three beach rose bushes (rosa rugosa) in front of our house that were planted when my dad died. As these are hardy and pretty self-sufficient, they have survived my care!
    I like your piece, and enjoyed the connections you've made to the plants and the people in your life.

  2. I really liked the way the different sorts of words worked together in this piece. The words for colors and the latin names all mixed together with words that give the tones of sentiment, love and friendship. The mix surprised me like treats in a trail mix :-) I also enjoyed the relaxed pace, walking around with you as you watered and greeted all these plants.


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