Reflections of A Desert Rose

Desert Rose Seedlings
Indoor Garden
Indoor Garden on a plant table with an eastern exposure, succulents, Christmas Cactus that blooms in the fall and a Schefflera

Can you love a plant?

Is it possible to love a finicky, difficult, worrisome plant? Let’s see how that could be possible.

Just like some people in our lives plants can be finicky, difficult, and worrisome and yet still surprise us I never wanted houseplants. The plan was to direct all my passion to rose growing. DSC_0185That would keep dirt outside where it belongs. I loved to work in the rose garden outside, and only have neat and tidy silk plants inside. Then people started giving me plants, and more plants. They were messy, troublesome and yes they brought dirt into the house. My son brought over wayward, straggling unwanted plants for me to adopt and try to save and so the story goes. Then one day I was working at the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA) in Houston.

Desert Rose Blooming in Illinois
Desert Rose Blooming in Illinois 

    I saw a plant so unusual I simply had to have it. The plant is called a flowering desert rose plant, or Adenium obesum. The desert rose is particularly suited to hot, dry climates. A native of east Africa, the desert rose is a succulent that is prized for its fleshy leaves and pink trumpet-shaped flowers.  They are also sometimes used as bonsai. A highly prized plant, particularly when their trunks are fully developed, (thus the name 0besum) it can be sold for upward of $1,000 as a mature plant with lots of branches and flowers.

Patio Plants Ready for Winter Protection
Desert Rose Outside in a Concrete Pot

There is beauty in the unusual; we don’t need to try so hard to fit in

The unusual, beautiful creature was residing in a booth close to mine and I asked the booth guy if I could buy it. He said “nope,” he was buying it. Later, since every man has his price, he came over and said “How about $75?” That’s a lot for a plant in a trade show booth and I said “sold.”   When it was time to break down the booth I packed my new baby up and drove it back to Dallas. Well, I don’t know for sure but my new baby didn’t seem to think Dallas was similar to the climate of east Africa because it languished and gave me fits. I put it outside in the summer. Apparently it was too humid because it didn’t die but it didn’t really bloom. I dragged it in in the winter.

 

We all react to stress differently; we can learn to adapt and adjust to our environment, its OK to drop your leaves, just be sure to grow new stronger ones

 

It dropped all of its leaves, gave me a near heart attack while I said this mantra “please don’t die, please don’t die, and please don’t die.” This apparently worked, because just when I thought it was a goner it would sprout new leaves. Then back outside in the summer and so the cycle goes until I moved to Central Illinois.

Beverly Hillbillies Truck
‘Audrey’ made her trip to Illinois packed in Ole Gray looking like she was in the Beverly Hillbillies Truck

Just like Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies, Big Daddy

cut a cardboard box, taped it up around this majestic, bonsai East African plant, packed it in the back of the ole gray work horse pick-up, and drove it 700 miles from Plano, Texas to Central Illinois with Audrey. Named affectionately after Little Shop of Horrors, monster sized plant Audrey, Audrey is a rescue plant that our son brought home for me to save that has grown to the size of a small elephant. That’s why we call him Audrey.

Croton Called Audrey Gaga's Garden
Croton Called Audrey Gaga’s Garden

Though indigenous to your area you may do better in a new location

Desert Rose Seed Pods, and a Gossamer Seed Glistening in the Sun
Desert Rose Seed Pods, and a Gossamer Seed Glistening in the Sun

Illinois, a climate so similar to East Africa, right? Oh how I wish I had snapped a picture with my iPhone of that ole gray pick-up loaded looking just like the Clampett truck, but you will have to visualize.  The finicky exotic made the 700-mile trek, then I transplanted it in a massively heavy concrete pot and put it on the deck with an eastern exposure for the Illinois summer.

Life happens while we are making other plans, like kids, orphan plants, pets, mistakes, the list is long

Desert Rose Seed Pods Opening
Desert Rose Seed Pods Glistening as They Burst Into The Sunlight

 

The plant bloomed like a rock star. It never bloomed in Texas – supposedly semi-arid, I thought, Texas.  Go figure. Then to my amazement this past summer the beautiful creature produced seed pods to which I posted pictures on #rosechat and #gardenchat and created a flurry of conversation about what to do so the seedlings did not blow away when the pods burst. When it was time to bring the 200-pounder in due to the concrete pot the seedpods had not opened yet so I didn’t give it too much thought.

 

The Secret of Life: More Life

Desert Rose Seedlings
Desert Rose Seedlings

I put the desert rose on the inside patio downstairs with a southern exposure and one morning went down and glistening in the sun were cascades of gossamer legged seeds glimmering in the morning light. The seedpods had burst forth the new baby seedlings in the night on the patio. The exotic creature gave birth alone in captivity in the night. This entire event caused me to reflect on the secret of life, more life.

 

Desert Rose in Illinois
Desert Rose in Illinois

“Prosperity Flower.” 

The Desert Rose is also very popular among the Chinese and is called Fu Kwai Fa in Cantonese, which translates to mean The Chinese believe when the plant blooms profusely it is a sign that the occupants of the house will be blessed with wealth and good fortune.

Even if you bring a little dirt, trouble, problems, mistakes into your life you can always sweep it out and start over with a clean slate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Carousel Pony
Carousel Pony

Everything you want to know about bloom where you are planted you can learn from a carousel pony. People that love you will stand by you. Joy reflects in your face. Life has its ups and downs. There’s always a blur of activity around you. You can enjoy the ride or not. Hold on, don’t fall off. You can bloom or remain blind to what’s going on around you. Someone’s always on your back; it can be merry or burdensome. “OUI” look better with a fresh coat of paint. How is a potted plant and a carousel pony very different? Neither a potted plant nor a carousel pony has a choice where “OUI” plant them or who messes with them. Others make life and death choices for them. Are you haunted by the ghosts of plants you’ve killed with kindness?

Croton Called Audrey Gaga's Garden
Croton Called Audrey Gaga's Garden

Let me tell you a story about a potted plant that grew & grew until she came to be named Audrey, by Big Daddy, critical half of the “OUI” Team, see OUI Theory  after Little Shop of Horrors Star, YouTube. You see, Big Daddy had to move Audrey from Texas where everything grows bigger, of course, in Old Gray, his pick-up truck. I can’t believe I didn’t catch a picture of that, visualize the Clampett’s of the Beverley Hillbillies sitcom as he drove away when Old Gray was loaded. He built a fully insulated wardrobe box and roped ‘er in directly behind the cab and drove Audrey 700 miles to her new home and she didn’t drop a leaf.

Clampett Truck
Clampett Truck

Maybe a couple of wind tears, but that’s it. Here’s Audrey’s life story: My mother passed away the Friday before Memorial Day, 1994. The tales I could tell you about this magical woman are epic. Trust me when I tell you everyone did as she told them. She affectionately has been referred to as Grambo, after the movie series Rambo and the “General”. One of her favorite sayings was “love you best.” She had a way of making everyone feel they were the one that was the most special to her. Our son, Michael www.michaeldarinfox.com took a Croton plant home from her memorial service.  Michael was her first born grandson and the apple of her eye, and I’m pretty sure he loved her best. “Croton” plants are from the genus Codiaeum which is different from the genus Croton in the same family. It’s confusing but they all seem to get lumped into the same group. Crotons are native to the Old World Tropics and the most commonly grown variety Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum is native to the Pacific Islands and Malay Peninsula, not Texas.

This potted plant has seen a lot  in its 18 years. Michael took it home and it languished. He brought it to me and said “Mom, please save this plant from Grandma’s memorial.” I put it by the fireplace with indirect light and it did well. It’s been transplanted to the large ceramic plant you see and “OUI” drag it in and out for the summer months. I hose it down like a fireman before bringing it in for the winter so I don’t bring in spider mites and all sorts of little critters. It endures. Now it weighs so much I think it has to stay in-doors year round. I love this plant. “OUI” love this plant. Now it would take a hand truck to move it and it’s pretty much stationary. Did you know house plants are nature’s air filters?

Plant Table Constructed by Big Daddy, Gaga's Garden
Plant Table Constructed by Big Daddy, Gaga's Garden

The natural filtration process within plants can remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCS) from the air according to NASA research. The EPA ranks indoor polution as one of the top threats to your health. There’s lots of info at o2foryou.org. So now Audrey provides good clean air for the lower level of the house, and we can breath easy and all live happily ever after as long as we don’t have to move Audrey and she doesn’t try to eat us like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors Audrey ;).

Succulent Pot, Gaga's Garden Indoors
Succulent Pot, Gaga's Garden Indoors

On a light sweet note my sister-in-law that I have known since we were both 17, sent a Christmas Cactus to me for Christmas over 5 years ago and I put it outside here in Illinois where I thought it got sun-burned. I put it in this succulent pot and l brought it in and it bloomed magnificently on Halloween.

Christmas Cactus, Gaga's Garden Indoors
Christmas Cactus, Gaga's Garden Indoors