[gardeners] a lesson in gift plant etiquette

Bob Kirk (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Sun, 1 Mar 1998 22:01:38 -0600 (CST)

   OK, so my mom's in the hospital. Blood infection from bungled care and
belated surgery on her big toe - nothing really scary, except she doesn't
drive anymore and the twice-a-day x 45-minute IV antibiotic infusion would
have had her baby brother spending half each day hauling her to and fro.
   After a week or so it seems like about time to go out and water the large
tubbed hibiscus and oleander in the southeast bedroom plus the two abutilons
and a few others here & there - which she basically just puts up with because 
she has room for them (in the house as well as on the back sidewalk over
summer) and I don't.

  Anyway, what've I got in the greenhouse that really isn't supposed to be
there and might be appropriate?   The freeform 7'W x 4'H red bougainvillea
espalier (in a 10" basket) is a bit much (wouldn't fit in the cab anyway).
'Maid of Orleans' jasmine is barely recovered from my having nearly killed
it outdoors last summer, and if a fiftieth of those buds open the whole
floor will have to break windows to breathe (even if they aren't - heh -
on a respirator... never thought about that).

   So I settle on a 'Texas Dawn' bougainvillea about the size of a 5-bushel
basket on a 3' trunk, so covered with bloom you can't see the leaves (also
in your basic beat-to-hell WalMart hanging basket, with an old fiberglass
arrow shaft for a stake). The ladies at the desk & nurses station cre^H^H^H
<vulgar expression for 'are impressed'>. A trail of shed bracts follows me
the length of the hall... over the next week the person who cleans the room
will come to hate this plant.
   The recipient attempts to hide her mortification by protesting that
there's nowhere to put it, but it fits nicely atop the shared dresser
overshadowing a modest pot of needlepoint ivy belonging to her former
co-worker (and former friend) in the other bed.

   To my credit, I did instantly realize that this innocent offering (hell,
it just _grew, it's not as though I even grew it) was about as tasteful as a
'57 Cadillac replica done in gold roses at The King's tomb.... but since I'm
going to plant this and the other one out there this summer and restart them
from cuttings, I wasn't about to haul it back to Manhattan, and made the
mistake of saying as much.


So now the 2900 people who stopped by to see it (in a town of about 3000)
think her son is doing his PhD on whether pink bougainvilleas are hardy in
central Kansas.... stay tuned for this and other startling new developments
in cutting-edge southern plains horticulture.