Re: [gardeners] a lesson in gift plant etiquette

George Shirley (
Mon, 02 Mar 1998 12:20:51

At 10:01 PM 3/1/98 -0600, you wrote:
>   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
>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.
>   BK---
>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.
Hope your mom is doing better by now, regardless of the Giant Mutant
Bougainvillea. When my mom was ill once I took her a blooming amaryllis in
a porcelain pot. She had always loved them when I was a kid. This time she
decided to be hard-nosed and tossed it out a third-story window at the
hospital. Damn near crowned the administrator. Look out for flying pink and
red things next time you visit.