Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I know it seems like a silly thing to be excited about, but I was thrilled when I discovered the plant I cannot kill.
Called the elephant plant, it's a succulent that can survive long periods of drought, and it doesn't seem to require any special diet and bugs don't seem to eat it, either. Given my reckless spirit when it comes to anything green and living in my backyard, desert or otherwise, any plant that intends to go on living back there, needs to have a hardy soul like that.
The elephant plant definitely does.
I've tried other plants. I initially thought I'd have a colorful and flowering patio, but a lack of automatic watering system kept getting in my way. It was an obstacle I knew I could overcome without spending too much money. In other words, I didn't want to add an automatic watering system.
So I kept buying different kinds of plants. I'd search through books and copies of Sunset magazine to find out which plants should be able to withstand my neglect. I'd walk through the aisles of plants at Home Depot. I'd even ask the sales clerks at nurseries, "What should I buy that will survive the worst drought?"
I had ice plants with purple blooms in hanging baskets, but they didn't last. I had cactus plants, but they shriveled up on me. I even tried aloe vera. My mother used to grow that all the time. It always seemed to multiply at her house. At mine, it just wilted. Of course, hers were in the ground. I wanted mine in pots.
Then, I noticed that one of the plants I'd purchased still seemed to have some life in it. I'd forgotten about it for the longest time. I hadn't watered it. I didn't even remember what it was and had left it for dead.
But it wasn't.
With just a speck of green on its branches, I suspected I'd found the plant for me. So I watered it and left town. When I returned to see that it had survived half an Arizona summer without any further waterings, I knew I really did have my perfect plant. That was in 2007, the year I was on vacation from mid-June until some time in August. I was so impressed this guy could withstand the hottest time of the year. Another plant given to me by a friend, a floral something-or-other that I left indoors that same summer, did not; it suffered what I suspect was a quick death.
But the elephant plant? He held on.
Once I watered it again, his leaves perked up, color returned to what should have been a lifeless form, and new buds appeared.
And that is precisely why I went out immediately and purchased several more--along with new pots and potting soil. Now, my entire patio is decorated with the plant that will not die. I love it! I can be as forgetful and negligent as I truly am around plants, and this guy doesn't seem to mind.
I am inspired by its hardiness, its inability to give up and its willingness to put up with me. This is the plant God made specifically for traveling journalists like me, and I am forever thankful for discovering it. It's made my patio a place I can actually enjoy now. And I really like the look of uniformity. If I want color, I buy a colored pot. If I want more texture, I buy garden art. And if I want some kind of fragrance, I wear purfume. Obstacle no more. My patio is now an opportunity to see beyond the sameness.
If you have a plant that seems to suit you and your lifestyle well, what is it? What's your story behind the plant that inspires you?