What a nice greeting I got today when I arrived at my Austin office (after driving 1.5 hours, dropping the dog off at the Bobcat Lair, and driving back to the office). There was the Little Orchid That Could, blooming to welcome me.
I’ve never had one of these little ones re-bloom, so that made me happy. The slightly larger one behind it is also budding. Plus, there’s another one at the house, white with purple slpotches. That one was a real surprise, because it is the newest one I have, and it immediately put out new flower stalks after it finished.
I guess I better get motivated to work as hard as my plants do to provide beauty and meaning in the world. Last week, I came to the conclusion that I’d either need to quit or take on the hardest task on the list of possible things I could do. I chose to give the hard thing a try, with great hopes that I’ll have support from my colleagues.
The little Suna who could
I’m like those orhids. Given the right environment, I can continue to grow and rebloom, no matter how old I’m getting to be. And like the little succulent, I’ve been knocked over and had to start over, repeatedly (just ask my friends in La Leche League, who will probably be quite surprised to learn I’ve agreed to edit the online publication for the Friends of LLL).
I come from a long line of plant lovers. Both of my parents had the green thumb gene, so I grew up in Florida surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. While my dad focused on the lawn and large plantings, in her later years my mom concentrated on a beautiful collection of orchids that she grew on a patio with a slatted roof that my dad had built for her.
During those years, one of my dearest friends was Lynn McCrain. We spent a lot of our early teen years at each other’s houses, talking about horses and painting our nails. Naturally, our parents got to know each other.
My mom and Lynn’s dad discovered a shared love of orchids. The two of them took great pleasure in each other’s discoveries, shared plants and tips, and made both of our homes more beautiful. When my mom passed away in 1984, my dad made sure Mom’s orchids made it to the McCrain house.
Many years have passed, and Lynn McCrain Molitor still lives in her old neighborhood, and she is still my dear friend. Also living with her are many, many amazing orchids in her beautiful yard, some of which I’m sharing here. I have taken great pleasure in seeing Lynn’s orchid photos on Facebook, every time thinking back to our parents’ shared love.
I thought the green thumb gene had mostly eluded me, especially when it came to orchids. I love plants, but am better with wild ones. However, things have changed for the better.
The orchids I’d tried to grow in Austin did okay, but never rebloomed, even when I followed instructions. But, once Anita and I moved to the little Villa Park casita, I started to get reblooms on the phalaenopsis (that’s mostly what I have; things from the grocery store).
And now that we are in the Bobcat Lair house in Austin, I’m beginning to feel like I could start my own McCrain-style jungle. All I can figure is that the large and very expensive argon-filled windows on the east side of the house are orchid heaven.
They aren’t even pausing between reblooms. One I just got at the grocery store is already putting out a new flower stalk. Another lovely little purple one finished blooming, then pushed out new buds on the same stalk.
At least I THOUGHT it was the windows at the house. Early this week I looked over at one of the little orchid plants I have at work, and by golly, there’s a new flower stalk coming up.
Actually, all the plants in the Austin house are extremely happy. I planted a small aloe plant to sit in the kitchen bay window where I keep small plants. After a few months I realized it was taking over the window. We just had to re-pot it because it had become top-heavy. It looks as good as the ones my mom used to grow in the ground in Florida. Maybe it will bloom, too!
Sigh, it really pleases me to see that Lynn and I are carrying some of our parents’ legacy on. I hope some of my plants last as long as Lynn’s.
One of the hardest things about the Hermits’ Rest is trying to plant things and make them grow. The area is most assuredly difficult for growing non-native flowers or most vegetables. No wonder I concentrate on what shows up naturally!
Ranch plant report
I’m sad to report that the early heat wave has fried my tomatoes and most of my flowers in the raised beds. But, zinnias and a marigold that popped up are fine, as are all the herbs (they look spectacular, actually, especially the bronze fennel). And the sunflowers I planted from last year’s seeds are definitely worth the price. I’ll have to take some pictures soon.
In the bed beside the house, free basil is, as usual, growing away, amid even more sunflowers. Hiding in there is some okra and random lavender that seems okay. At least all the sweet potato vines died out.
Back in Austin
At the Austin house, Anita is having great success on the lower deck with her succulents and cacti. I am having less success on the top deck, which gets a lot of sun, but there are things that are alive, and we did get our bougainvillea to survive the winter. It’s all happy.
This leads me to orchids. I am not the hugest orchid fan on earth (that would be my friend Lynn Molitor). But, I am sentimentally attached to them, because my mother’s main hobby during her last years in south Florida was raising orchids, and I have many great memories of her watering them and naming all the ones that were blooming (after Mom passed away, the orchids went to Lynn’s father, and eventually to Lynn, at least in spirit). So orchids remind me of my mom.
And inside our Bobcat Lair house, we apparently created the ideal location for houseplants of all kinds, especially orchids. I used to always have one blooming on my desk at work, then I’d take it home, so I now have a good number of orchid plants.
Much to my happiness, they seem to like the low-E glass in our windows, and have responded by blooming like crazy, with nothing more than watering and monthly fertilizing. They are all in east-facing windows, which don’t get burning sun thanks to the glazing.
In addition to the three blooming now (including my favorite, the brown one), there are two more getting ready to bloom, at least if the woman who cleans the house hasn’t watered them to death. I think those are probably the white phalaenopsis ones. We will see!
And yes, I know I need to learn what the danged orchids are called. I hope Lynn reads this and fills me in. Then I’ll update.