Monday, January 16, 2012

I Forget

I am pondering this plumeria. It is not mine. I was searching for the name of the plant in the following photo:
which IS mine and which is, of course, a bromeliad (though what sort I haven't a clue because as always I didn't save the tag) and while searching for the word, which had entirely escaped my brain, as these things do (the brain meantime was flailing about with helpful hints like -- pink thing!), I went on line and searched under tropical plants, which I know it is, and the photo of the plumeria popped up and I'm wanting it. If you squint hard to make the colors run together it's also the color of the blusher (or rouge, as my antiquated prince persists in calling it) that I have been craving. If I only had that color--if could turn myself that color-- I would be a happy person, I mutter to myself. Rich. Admired.

Now I do own a plumeria. Here it is, in the shade of a rubber tree leaf:

This is pretty much as it looked when I bought it last year at the Philadelphia Flower Show, where I was assured by the kindly lady selling them that if you take this stick and insert it in soil it will leaf out and produce flowers of insane scent and fabulous petal (think leis!) sometime in late summer.

This is not the first go round I've had with plumeria. Or the first kindly lady.

It did leaf out in August and was looking pretty strapping by September, but as soon as I brought it inside-- despite the greenhouse warmth and sun -- the leaves began to droop and fall off. I probably should be content that I still have sticks that appear to be alive. That's a first. And I really should not be troubling myself with what color the flowers might be if the sticks actually blossomed. I think they're supposed to be pink...or maybe yellow. Could be white. I lost the tag. 

Meanwhile, some other plants are doing wonderfully.

The Meyer lemon is loaded with pink-tinged white blossoms and the pink hibiscus has budded out -- the first flower opened this morning.

The kalancho is also starting to bloom in a pot otherwise filled with cuttings of coleus, geranium and some unidentified trailing stuff.

New! Is the stephanotis:

I tried to resist through most of last week as I made my daily trip to the hardware store to see if they'd reduced the price of the paper whites (they usually slash them to 50 cents after Christmas -- just what are they waiting for? Dammit. They're going to bloom in their galvanized bucket).  Every morning I'd drift past this plant and notice how full of buds it was, how perky and green the leaves, and remind myself that the $22 price tag would buy me, at current price, 22 paper whites and if I lollygagged a few more days 44 of them. Enough to suffocate The Prince who thinks they smell like mouse droppings. 

And then...a bud popped open. And I happened to inhale. And before I knew it I was scurrying home in the frigid air bundling the stephanotis inside my jacket for warmth.

I am trying to convince myself of the practicality of this purchase -- somewhat as I convinced myself of the practicality of the $40 kumquat I planted last summer when I went shopping for a single petunia -- just one!  It appears from the tag (that I still have!) that I can provide the right combination of indirect sunlight and not too warm nights to keep it alive. Paperwhites die! Bouquets provide mere days of happiness! I COULD have this plant forever or for, at any rate, months or  years. It's possible.

And oh the greenhouse smell, between this and the lemon and the African gardenia (which isn't worth photographing, the flowers are so insignificant, if pungent)...

It's distracting.

One last thing:
My red hibiscus is flourishing. It might not appear impressive, in fact it might appear half dead. However, if you look really closely at the branch ends there are itty bits of growth that could be leaves or flowers -- it is merely half-gnawed. Vinnie, my flea weight parakeet did her best to finish it off -- eyes rolling back in her head in an ecstasy of nibbling whenever I turned my back. Here's hoping she's had her fill. 

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