Sunday, April 1, 2012

Heirloom Plants

We all know that trees can live for decades or more, but flowers and other plants can as well.
I am fortunate to have several plants and flowers that are very old,
passed on to me from family members. I treasure those plants more than the rest.
Here are just a few that I am fortunate to have:

Violets are said to symbolize love and fidelity. These violets belonged to my parents
who were married for sixty years before my father passed.
I have these violets  planted in a window box and they grow very well there.

This is a very old peppermint that was growing next to my parents' house
when they bought it in 1953.
It would have been planted sometime between 1906 and 1953,
 making it at least 60 years old, maybe even 106 years old. The scent and taste are delightful
and much stronger than that of  newer plants.

Here is a fern that belonged to my great grandmother Margaret, nicknamed Gretel.
I don't know when she acquired it, but she passed away in the 1930s,
so it is close to 80 years old or more.
My brothers and sisters and I are the 4th generation to care for this plant
which has been divided many times. It just keeps on growing.
Unlike current versions of the plant, this one is very thorny
and gets red berries and tiny white flowers on it.
The fronds are softer than on today's variety.

There are other heirloom plants I treasure.
I still have the Joseph's Coat (alternantherea) 
my grandmother potted for me to take to college nearly 40 years ago
 and the "baby carnations" (dianthus or pinks)
that my mother-in-law gave my husband and me more than 30 years ago.
I'll close with a story about a plant my parents' acquired many years ago.
It was a common tree philodendron, probably purchased at a department store.
They expected to have it for only a short time, sure it would die eventually.
But it didn't. And it got bigger and bigger.
So big that Dad planted it in a large aluminum tub and placed it on a roller
so he could move it outside in the summer and to the walk-in basement in the winter.
When he passed away a couple of years ago following a short illness,
the philodendron was in his garage, but unwatered and  in pretty bad shape.

My nephew took it and like his grandfather before him,
he puts it outside in summer and brings it in to his basement in the winter. Here it is:

Plants loved and tended over generations. I like the continuity of that.

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