Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Philodendrons to a Ficus

Sunday was a pretty productive day. I ended up at Lowe's and bought a smattering of impatiens, other assorted flowers, creeping plants like sweet pea and English ivy, hanging pots, and soil to begin finally finishing off this deck for the summer. I always plot what to do each week so that by end of June I will have everything completed. The list gets chucked by mid June with a muttered "Eff it" under my breath. I then play catch up until the Fall. By that time, all the plants that were planted in May have either died or become overgrown and it is time to start thinking about mums, pumpkins, and dried corn stalks.
 
I had a bunch of dirt left over and needed to repot some house plants so I figured I would complete that task as I already had the blackened fingernails of a seasoned day-gardener. I grabbed four houseplants and carried them out to my staging area in the driveway. By staging area, I mean cracked open cans of beer, a cassette player playing Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits, and cicadas periodically using my back as a landing strip. 
 
As I carefully pulled each root-laden plant out of its ceramic pot of a prison, my mind wandered (as usual) back to the 70's thinking about the houseplants my Mom and Nana each had.  As an adult, I have mirrored what they had in their homes. John's Mom apparently has had an influence on what I now have growing in my home as well.
 
My Very Young Snake Plant
John's Mom loves primroses and African violets. I now have those on my window sill in the kitchen. One Christmas Eve three years ago, John and I had our families up for the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. As a little gift, I bought each of the women a small African violet. Since one couple did not show up, I had one left over. After three years, it sits in the kitchen blooming it's flowers throughout the year.  The primrose has survived despite repeated mauling from the two cats.  It is an embarrassing and shocking example of a stripped down primrose.
 
My Nana grew several pots of tall snake plants. I remember seeing them all over her 60's style rancher while growing up. My sister and brother each share an affinity for this type of plant. They are easy to grow but more importantly, remind us constantly of our grandparents. Mine is no where near as tall as Nana's was. It is the stunted version of my Nana's.  I wonder what ever happened to hers?
 
Growing up in Wenonah, NJ, Mom had philodendrons all over the house. She insisted they were the easiest house plants to grow and were incredibly hardy. Was she ever right! During my college years in the late 80's early 90's, Mom gave me a philodendron for my apartment in college. This philo came from our living room in Wenonah and dates back to the early 80's. It has survived ever since but not without coming close to biting it.
 
Over the years, the plant began to lose leaves, becoming smaller. It went from a vibrant bushy jungle of tendrils to a smaller, older wizened version of its former self, the stem thick with age. I almost lost it a couples months ago. One day the cats had a field day with it and knocked it over, breaking the pot and main stem. They pretty much tore it "limb from limb." I was heartbroken over this stupid plant because it was a gift for my 1st apartment from my mother. When Mom gave it to me, it was as if she was saying, "You are an adult now. Take care of this plant and all will be fine."
 
Primrose, Philodendron with 5 leaves, and African Violet
 
I gingerly picked up the remains of the broken philo and tried to replant it but over the next couple days, it just got worse. The remaining dozen leaves started yellowing and wilting. I made the decision to take several sections and try to promote the root growth by rerooting them in a vase of water. I couldn't give up. This plant was around 30 years old. Three sections ended up dying but the last section, with one remaining leaf suddenly started growing roots in the water!
 
This is a fake orange tree, not a ficus.
I transferred the philodendron to a small pot and over the last couple weeks, four additional leaves have sprouted.  It has one big leaf and four smaller ones. I know I obsess over this plant but after Mom's passing, it grew to become a living connection to her.  It will rest on the kitchen window sill now, protected and away from the claws of the cats.
 
Nana also had a ficus tree which she grew indoors. For years, I would play with my toys all over it. I fascinated by this miniature tree … until Mom informed me it was plastic. And then I found out it was actually a plastic ORANGE tree, not ficus. That would explain the small plastic oranges at the end of each branch.
 


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