Last year while Craig and I toured the canopy of a rainforest in Costa Rica, during a thunderstorm, our guide answered my endless questions about plants. I am the annoying tourist who won’t cease battering the guide with queries, and others may think I should just put my nose in a book and save everyone’s peace of mind. I’ve never lived any where tropical so I saw living things which sprouted continuous wonderings, and I just had to know. I was like a small child at a petting zoo for the first time. I wanted to touch everything, know what it is, how it grows, what conditions it likes best and how long it flowers. And I was in extraordinary bliss.
I’d ask, “oo what’s that?” He could answer as though it were another blade of grass in somewhat of a bored tone suggesting I ought to know “it’s an orchid.” Really? I’d inspect more closely. They were living in the bark of trees a hundred feet up in the canopy. They are cling-ons, parasites, with the growing qualities in those conditions of weeds. I had never tried to grow an orchid before then, but after seeing their natural habitat I knew a few would make their way into my home.
They have some interesting growing requirements: they like regular light fertilizing so I use osmocote four times a year, diffused bright light, weekly watering and most curious of all they like to be root bound. I am the sort of gardener who looks at a plant and promises a big wide bowl of dirt for all the roots to spread happy and seek nourishment. I am always buying pots three times as big as a plant might need, just in case they want to do something for me rather spectacular. But orchids prefer years in tight pants. I definitely don’t want to have that in common with them.
What has drawn my enduring love is that when they flower, the blooms last for months…if they are happy where they live. Months. I personally would like to bloom for months at a time. Their blossom strength and sturdiness is something I would like to follow as an example for living one day at a time through the ups and downs of life. It is as if they remind me, “enjoy the colors and the beauty right now, and when it’s gone, just know it comes back”. That’s reassuring.
So, Craig is not surprised when I arrive at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and make my first stop in the orchid corner. I snap photos while I ask questions, soak in answers, select, and exchange money for the pleasure of carrying a new friend home. It makes me feel quite happy. Just looking at their cheerful faces jiggling atop slender stems gives me reason to smile. Isn’t that worth something? I think so. I assure the new arrival, “I know how to take care of you, and you have friends at home waiting to include you in the blooming party.” Everyone is welcome.