Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hardly a Bonsai

I was shopping in Walmart, and idly wandered into the garden section. Sure, It's February and we still get below zero readings regularly, but, hey, I needed a dose of green.  If one were available, that is.

It was. There was a whole table of houseplants. Some actually qualified for that designation. But an unusual color and pattern caught my eye, and I rolled closer for a look. It was a very grey blue with a spot of pink. It turned out to be a selection of grafted cactus in a pot. The bottom part was a straight stalk with a "V" wedge, and nestled into that wedge was something very odd. My best guess, since these things never come with any information, is that the top is some kind of prickly pear pad, minus the sharp spines, just fleshy protruberances, but thoroughly infected by that virus that causes the monstrosa deformation. It was wavy, with pink all along the top margin.

I bought the one with the strongest pink.

But while I was sorting through those, my eye was caught by a much more familiar form: ponytail palms. Or if you prefer, elephant's foot palms. I bought my first one back in 1978, when we had just moved to Georgia and I went to a garden center to see what was new- to me. I kept that alive for nearly 35 years, moving it to Sun City last fall and planting it in the front yard. Unfortunately, it got exposed to a bit of colder air than it's used to last fall and the jury is still out on whether it may recover. I'll reserve final judgement until next fall, giving it a chance to come back. There was still green under the bark when it went in the ground. Steve waters it when he waters the pines.

I had kept repotting it every few years, finally winding up with a galvanized washtub for a pot. When it got too tall I cut it off, letting it resprout with 5 new main stems of greenery. At the time it got moved, it weighed about a hundred pounds and took both my sons to put it out for the summer and bring it in for the winter. I had tried to sell it once, but had no takers, so determined to keep it and plant it in Arizona. Done, but had it survived? I decided I was in the market for replacements, just in case. Or even, perhaps, companions.

Now here they were. The bulbs were fist sized, and these had been trimmed as well, with 7-8 sprouts coming out around the top on each.  I noticed after bringing a pair of them home that the small pots were explained by the claim that they were bonsais. Yeah, sure.

Until April, maybe. Then they're traveling south with me and getting a chance to stretch their roots out in front of the house where the green leafy bushes were pulled out. They'll become part of the desert landscaping then, in company with aloes and agaves, to be planted later. The cactus will come along as well, going way out in front near the address number sign. We'll see how it does there.

Meanwhile my green fix is sitting in the dining room in front of the big south window.

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