A THIRD ORCHID AND STILL EXCITED ABOUT FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

ORCHIDS – PLANT OF THE DAY

I’ve been watching for a new orchid. Every day I check. Did another bud open yet? Today, there it was. The third flower is in bloom.

I got all excited. I was going to go take pictures, but it turned out to be four o’clock which is the dog’s dinner time, so I had to stop and feed them. As soon as they finished choking down the food — they really eat as if no one ever feeds them — I grabbed two cameras. First, the OMD with the macro lens and the tiny Pentax Q with its fast “normal lens.

It was a bright day and I hoped I’d have enough light to get clean shots with the macro. The Pentax Q was my fallback position.

“I’m so excited,” I told Garry. “I didn’t use to get excited about plants.”I stopped when I said that because I realized I was lying. When I lived in New York, my whole first floor looked like a greenhouse. I had hundreds of plants. Hanging and standing. Tall and flat. And they were literally everywhere you looked.

I had special stands made on which to put the plants in which I could put water so the heat from the radiators would turn to mist and keep them from drying out. People I didn’t know would leave me cuttings on my porch. I was, in fact, know as “The Plant Lady” unless it was someone to whom I had given a cat or dog, in which case I was the cat or dog lady.

To say I didn’t get excited about plants was an out-and-out lie. No one who doesn’t get excited about plants grows a few hundred of them indoors.

“Okay,” I said, having rethought my original statement. “I guess I do get excited about plants.”

Garry remembers the house on Dikeman Street. I didn’t have curtains. The plants covered the windows in every room on the ground floor. I had a miniature hose which attached to my kitchen faucet so I could water them in a couple of hours.

I had started out with maybe three plants, but there were clippings and the arboretum had a sale. And people gave me plants. Cuttings. Ferns.

And all I did was water them when they got dry and make sure they got a reasonable amount of light. When I left for Israel, I had to give away my plants. I had one hanging fern that was about five feet around. I gave to friends as a wedding present. They looked puzzled. A fern? A gigantic fern?

“Water it when it gets dry and be sure it gets light. It doesn’t need full sun, just light.” I have no idea what happened to it because the next day, I was on a plane to Israel where I had to rethink my plant choices. The balcony on which I grew my plants, was on the south side of the house. It got hot, semi-tropical sun from mid-morning until dark. Most plants fried in that kind of sunshine.

It turned out the only plants that could cope with it were petunias, hanging geraniums — which have simply got to be the most versatile plants available — and cactus. Everything else burned to a crisp.

So here I am, 41 years later. I still get excited about plants. I don’t have as many of them — indoors, just a half-dozen. I don’t have the energy to maintain a huge indoor greenhouse. Moreover, we don’t have enough light to grow most of the plants I grew in those less golden olden days.

If Renoir lived here …

I did get a third blossom on the orchids, though. That makes up for a lot, even if my outdoor garden is a terrible mess.

I am expecting one more flower in about a week.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

11 thoughts on “A THIRD ORCHID AND STILL EXCITED ABOUT FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. It’s always at least partly luck. Having the right light in a room that’s the right temperature — all luck. The rest is not over-watering the plant, but first and foremost, having the right light in the right room. Which is why even if I had the energy, this house would never grow plants like I did in New York. I don’t have the light.

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        1. They are very sturdy flowers, too. They almost feel like some kind of plastic molding. Quite solid. I suspect part of their value is how long they last – they bloom for weeks at a time. I wish they had a scent, but they essentially have no scent at all.

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  1. You have good reason to be excited, Marilyn, I would be too if my orchids bloomed. Still waiting for the one plant to get going. BTW my nick name was “Madame Cheddar” when we lived in Paris.
    Leslie

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