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Hello, Aloha!

January 28, 2014

outsidexIt’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.

° ° ° ° °

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.


18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2014 1:57 pm

    It looks fantastic and I LOVE the pot you found! I have never owned one of these plants, although they have always piqued my interest. Now, copy cat that I am, I’m going to have to have one:)

    • January 28, 2014 5:07 pm

      Good luck, WF, I have to admit I’m a tiny bit worried about our new Mad palm’s future … but I’m going to do my best! I love the pot, too … I ALWAYS find what I’m looking for at Stephen’s place. 😉

  2. January 28, 2014 3:05 pm

    Thanks for the nice story……… doesn’t have to just work in the garden…..sitting in the garden is nice too….xo

    • January 28, 2014 5:09 pm

      Very true, Guida … and it’s not like I don’t have a bench out there. Thanks! 😉

  3. January 28, 2014 4:24 pm

    Nice score! I saw that Pachypodium at a new museum 2 weeks ago in Borrego Spgs, and they staff fully expected their row of them to die…nope, they grew over 1′, but now they are contemplating moving them from under the 10′ eaves…

    • January 28, 2014 5:11 pm

      Very interesting, David, Paul and I were thinking of moving our new Mad palm under the eaves of our house, too. Thanks for commenting.

  4. January 28, 2014 4:34 pm

    What a wonderful story and I’m glad to hear of your intent to get out more. I can’t help but think it will do you good. (lovely specimen and the container you found is just perfect)

    • January 28, 2014 5:13 pm

      Thanks, Loree, I’ve found it frustrating and immobilizing not being able to do what I used to, so this is a breakthrough of sorts. I think it’ll be good for me as well.

  5. January 28, 2014 5:48 pm

    what a generous gift…it is amazing!!

    • January 28, 2014 5:51 pm

      Hi, Sharon … A truly generous gift, I just hope I can keep it alive! Thanks for commenting 😉

  6. January 30, 2014 5:34 pm

    I have done all sorts of things in my front yard and nothing has brought out the neighbors for conversations like when I tore out the lawn and put in a garden. This is such a great story and that palm looks like it’s always been there.

    • January 30, 2014 5:38 pm

      Thanks, Heather … isn’t it fun being noticed for something so positive?! 😉

  7. Vickie Perez permalink
    January 31, 2014 7:33 am

    What surprises our gardens can give us. I’m so glad to know that you’re making the way back outside. I remember when I finally drug myself out. The palm and pot are great. It looks like the spot was just waiting for it. One positive will encourage others to come to you.
    You and Paul so deserve them.

    • January 31, 2014 4:38 pm

      You’re so right, Vickie … it feels great to be outside again, especially after the last few weeks. Let me know when you and Tom are up for a visit, I need some Vickie inspiration! 😉

  8. Vickie Perez permalink
    February 2, 2014 6:57 am

    You guys are always welcome!! Just give us a call.

  9. Val Rubida permalink
    February 3, 2014 2:43 pm

    Welcome back Reuben. So happy to see your blog after all you’ve been through.
    I love your place too, even though I’m not able to see it in person.
    How in the world did you transplant the Mad Palm to another pot. That must have been quite a feat. BTW that pot is just what the palm needed..

    • February 3, 2014 4:42 pm

      Thanks, Val, it’s good to be back … Thankfully Paul is hale and hearty; he did the transplanting while I stood and watched — It wasn’t easy either since the trunk is crazy-spiny. I love the pot, too! 😉

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