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May 6

Flower-Power

Posted on Sunday, May 6, 2007 in Jobs, Strange and Unusual

This post isn’t about flower-growing or gardening, it’s about patience and hope.

When me fella first started his window-cleaning business, I trawled around with him distributing business cards, and mucking in with a squeegie.  It was hard work, but there were perks.  We would celebrate our hard work with a pint of a sunny afternoon on occasion, for instance.  There is something about the taste of a pint that is earned through hard work that can’t be matched.  There were gifts from customers, too.  We’ve picked up many customer rejects… toys, furniture and a multitude of unwanted gizmos.  Elderly ladies figured me out as the gardening type, and would bestow plants and cuttings.  One of which is the subject of this post.

I was shammying this one lady’s kitchen window, when she appeared with a potted plant.  I’d never seen one like it before, it looked expensive.  I thanked her very much as she explained it’s basic care instructions.  I brought it home, and set it on a window-sill.  I watered it regularly, but after a week or two it began to turn brown.  I repotted it.  It’s leaves started to fall off.  I kept it barely alive, then one summer I threw it out into the back garden and forgot about it.  It survived for almost a year in the raw irish elements, until we moved house.  I gave it a new home in my bathroom. 

For five years, this unidentified plant (I’ve googled it, and know it’s a Bromeliad of some sort) sat it it’s pot.  It grew a leaf or two occasionally, but was otherwise kind of greeny-brown and boring.  I still took great care of it.  I showered it in warm water, and fed it.  I just knew it had potential in there somewhere.

Then, suddenly I noticed it changing.  It’s leaves grew greener, and a bud appeared.  I got so excited about this, I couldn’t stop visiting it every day to see it’s progress. 

plantbud.jpg

A week later, this happened:

plantflower.jpg

This plant is now my friend.  It has thanked me for years of patience and faith by producing this gorgeous display which has a subtle smell, something between a sweet-pea flower and a rose.  And it is my favourite colour.  How did it know?  Plants usually get very sick under my care, and rarely flower.  I couldn’t really understand my dad’s enthusiasm for flowering cactii until now.  I’m in awe of nature.

I read up on Bromeliads, and apparently a lot of these plants die after they flower.  If anyone can recognise this plant, please let me know what it is so that I can rest easy and not let my buddy die?

Bring on the comments

  1. While I hate to veer off your point, you mentioned a window-cleaning business.
    This is but one of many escape-from-normal-employment ideas I have had for the summer, albeit on a smaller scale than what you have, I’m sure.

    What’s it like?

  2. baino says:

    K8, she’d be a common Clivia . . . South African, drought resistant. We have loads here as roadside plantings as they’re pretty tough with heat and parched earth. When the middle bit dies off, trim her back and she’ll be back year after year. I think yours is a Miniata Belgian Hybrid!

    Shite. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

    Actually, my son is in his final year of a Horticulture degree – plant identification has become a necessity if I’m to finish his homework
    http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/1997/archives/27/in_the_garden/flowering_plants_and_shrubs/clivia__plant_of_the_week).

  3. Grandad says:

    ‘Tis a Bromeliad, all right, but I’m not sure what type.

    The trick with these yokes is not to water the roots. You water them by filling the ‘cup’ formed by the leaves. They also don’t like to be repotted.

    After flowering, they produce little baby plants at the base, which should be carefully removed and potted.

  4. K8 says:

    Dario: Window Cleaning is a pretty lucrative business, once it’s established. There is a bit of heavy-going leg work involved to gain business, and you’ll need to buy equipment… a safe two-storey ladder, mops, bucket, squeegie, shammy cloths and scraper blades. Once this is all done the rest is apple pie! You will need to be careful about robbing other WC’s territory though, as this is a mortal sin. Asking one or two people on your chosen road will give you answers. Feel free to email me if you want more info!!!

    Baino: She’s not common! She’s lovely. But you’re right, that’s the one… thank you very much, you’ve no idea how long I’ve been google-searching this plant!

    I’ll look out for dem baby plants, but there’s no sign yet… I did know about the watering in the middle bit though. She was belligerent when I repotted her but she got a lot bigger afterwards and she seems happy now. Tanks da!

  5. baino says:

    Apologies K8, not ‘common’ in your part of the world. Very pretty and hardy. Maybe when she has babies, you can plant a potted Clivia hedge on your window sill . . .they grow very well in the underground carpark at my local shops under fluorescent light. May you and your Clivia live happily ever after. I think she needs a name – Olivia the Clivia . . .Minnie the Miniata . . . Belinda the Belgian?

  6. K8 says:

    (Hee hee) Olivia the Clivia it is. She is Christened. Thank you for the blessing :)

  7. Granny says:

    Anyway, congratulations on your new arrival. She’s a beauty.
    [we had one a bit like that, but the wheels fell off]
    We hope you and Clamidia will be very happy.
    Love, Mammy

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