Thursday, January 17, 2013

News Brief from the Tiny Conservatory

The Clamondin

 Introducing the newest addition to my wee greenhouse, the Clamondin, which bills itself as "the other lime," though it smells like an orange, specifically the insanely sweet scent of the orange blossom perfume that Kristen brought back for me from a trip to Cocoa Beach maybe ten years ago. Pure 1950s Florida in a bottle. 

I keep it on my desk and sniff it in times of (generalized) panic, like tropical smelling salts, which is why it appears full. This is not the sort of scent One, meaning me, wears in public. 

The Clamondin was a gift from The Prince for our 30th anniversary, knowing I (fortuitously for him) prefer exotic plants to jewelry.  It joins the key lime and the Meyer lemon, and the various jasmine, hibiscus, amaryllis, and bromeliads that winter in the tiny solarium off my second floor home office.

While Clamondin's were introduced to Florida in 1899 (according to Purdue University's horticultural site), I had never heard of them. These prolific fruiters are said to be juicy and sweet, the plants grow in anything from clay to sand, and are reasonably cold tolerant.

Plus! Duke reports the fruit can be used as a shampoo, a hair growth stimulant, and a laxative. It's also said to ease the itch of insect bites, bleaches freckles,  soothes coughs, "expels phlegm," and the leaves can be brewed to create a "carminative"* more powerful than peppermint at relieving flatulence.

It's also "a prime host of the Mediterranean and Caribbean fruit flies," however these are not known plant threats in Washington, DC.

All in all a perfect plant, eh?

Getting back to the smell of the thing. I would not have known that the Clamondin (notice the artful blackdrop in the photo? It's just a cape on a chair but it looks so professional for once. I'm very pleased with myself) had such a delightful scent except that it needed repotting and instead of doing this on the solarium floor, where it was certain that I'd spill dirt and then stand up and grind it into the carpet and then have to haul the shop vac upstairs again, I wisely carried it downstairs and outside to the area under the porch that I'd like to think you think is my spacious and charming  potting room.

It was as I was walking down the stairs that I caught a euphoric whiff of the plant's blossoms, of which there are many.

One, meaning you, might wonder why I hadn't noticed this incredible -- really quite extraordinarily powerful -- scent before the traipse.  I mean, the entire staircase vibrated orange.

May I now introduce you to Yolko Ohno and The Bluebird of Happiness, also known as Yolko and Blue.

Several months ago they joined my boy birds Shakira and Boychic who I thought required girlfriends. (Although Blue's femininity is now questionable. But that's another story).

Sadly, I am an extremely slow learner who is easily swayed by blasts of romantic inspiration. I should know by now that there is little charm to the actuality of free-flying feral birds in the house, only to the notion.

To be blunt. The upshot or downshot or whatnot of this family addition is that  four birds create far more than twice the seedy, feathered mess and STENCH as two.

I do not know why this is, but it has led to a great deal of unnatural activitiy. To whit: I mop, I vacuum, I wash the (mainly decorative) cages and sniff and sniff and still there's this foul, ammonia stench.

This I am combating with various odour eliminators,** which I might add Do Help, but while they soften the bird reek to near subliminal levels they unfortunately eliminate the transporting scents of the tropical plants that are half the purpose of this room, replacing them with an  offensive whiff of cheap perfume.

I am not supposed to be reduced to furtively sniffing orange blossom perfume from a bottle. I am supposed to be sitting in the wicker chair in the greenhouse inhaling and exhaling ecstatically. 

And so it goes.

* Carminative. What a dainty term that I'd never heard of!

The butler arrives, crystal glass on silver salver: "Your carminative, madam."

"Thank you Reginald, please crack the window before you retire."

 ** Nature's Air sponge is one. Activated charcoal stomped under the rug is another. A sprinkling of Arm & Hammer's Pet Fresh carpet cleaner is the third. Only the charcoal is odorless.


  1. I love that you have a solarium and that your birds don't live in cages all the time. If I were a bird, I'd want to live in that room, too. What ever you do don't let them eat the leaves of that orange! The last thing they need is a laxative! Not having ever owned a bird here's a potentially stupid question - is it possible to encourage them to poop in one general area?

    1. a) Oh literal shit! I hadn't thought of that.
      b) They usually poop/pee inside the cages, and from what little I know it is a combo product. You never see any damp around. I was lining the cages with newspaper until this last week but decided that it might be part of the problem -- absorbing and holding the smell. So I'm trying bare floors. Hmpf.

    2. What about cat/dog pee pads? They're like big square maxi pads for pets. They'd absorb the mess/odor and are disposable.

    3. wow. never heard of them. will check them out.

    4. Just in case my last comment made no sense whatsoever - the pee pads would line the bottom of the cage. Although if you do strap a maxi pad to one of the birds, please take a picture.

  2. Awesome neato room, with those tall windows and I love the b&w tiles. But I can't believe there is another little citrus waiting to pounce on me--it does sound wonderful. Your colorful flock must be like traveling blooms among the green leaves! I suppose they wouldn't wear little pants-- the birds I mean, not the plants.

    1. Black and white tiles -- painted plywood!!! If ya ain't got it, fake it.

      I'm thinking tiny tampons. Will keep you abreast.

  3. Something is working! Today my office smells fabulously of orange blossoms (with just the barest hint of ammonia).

  4. Really impressed! Everything is very, very clear, open is wedding accessories cheap, wedding dresses 2013, bridesmaid dresses 2013 a description of the problem. It contains the information.

    1. Gilda -- The birds are far too young to be married. But thank you for your suggestions.

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