It’s true: I really should get out more. By that I don’t mean snagging a ride on the Orient Express or even going anywhere in the car. I mean I need to get out into the garden, out into the sun more. Here’s a story: Several weeks ago I was outside, checking on some recently trimmed agaves, when I noticed a car slowing down. I walked toward the car, thinking this would be yet another opportunity for me to practice my condensed directions to the Mt. Rubidoux hiking trail entrance. To my surprise the woman passenger had actually stopped to see me — had actually been hoping to see me for a while — because she wanted to offer me a plant. I asked her to describe it and she called it a “cactus”, but with branches that ended in leaves; she said she’d had it for about 10 years, was no longer sure she could care for it properly, and thought with my obvious love for succulents and cacti, that I might have a spot for it at the Rancho. Although her description made me think she was offering me a Madagascar palm, I said I’d like to see it. I took her name and phone number and said I’d call the next day. Then I forgot about the encounter completely. But don’t think it was because the woman was forgettable; her name was Aloha Smith, after all. There was just a lot going on at that time, what with my dad and all … Anyway, I finally remembered to call Aloha a couple days ago, and we stopped by to see the plant. I met her husband, a super guy with a name as plain as hers was awesome: Bob. We went into the the backyard and there it was: a Madagascar palm, or Pachypodium lamerei, my succulent nemesis. See, I’ve had this plant before, several times, and each time they gave up on life shortly after arrival. Still, I decided to accept the plant, since, as Paul pointed out, it was a much larger specimen than any I’d ever had before; perhaps this one would make it. We made a date to take it home and in the meantime I went in search of a pot to replace the plastic one it had inhabited for the last decade. A stop at a local nursery failed to inspire, so I decided to hit up my fave OOAK hotspot, namely Stephen Penn’s garden yard on Jurupa. It didn’t take me long to settle on what looked like an electrical canister of sorts, the kind that nestles atop a telephone pole; I couldn’t resist its slim profile and industrial features. We arrived back at Aloha’s for our palm, whereupon we learned more about she and Bob. Amazingly, they’re both retired Episcopalian clergy and very interesting and learned people … I’d noticed passing through the first time that their house brimmed with art, so as a thank you I gave them a framed print of one of my photos. We visited for a bit and vowed to get together soon. Helpfully, Bob transported the palm to the Rancho in his truck, where we promptly potted it. Looks fantastic, I must say! Here it is in the company of other plants on the deck …
Isn’t it good? And, to think: If I hadn’t been hanging out outside I would’ve missed my Aloha encounter, missed a chance at Mad palm redemption, missed meeting a very interesting couple living only about a mile away. I was out watering yesterday, and someone stopped, rolled down their window and said, “I just love your place!” … This used to happen all the time in the past when I was able to work outside all day. Over time, we met so many great people, the garden our initial connection. So, I’ve made the decision: I will get out more … and find ways to do simple, non pain-inducing tasks that will keep me in touch with my garden — and its fans.
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Here’s a bonus pic of the Rancho today, under blue skies. If you’re passing and see me out there watering or something, be sure to say hello … or aloha, if you prefer.