Do your houseplants tell stories?

Before I begin, I apologize for my long absence.  Life challenges and a problem with my website kept me away for quite awhile, but I’m happy to be back and sharing the beauty of our world again!  I also apologize if the quality of this blog’s photos isn’t the best.  Other than Bob Duke’s wonderful drone photo of our property, I used my phone camera for these pictures rather than my Canon.  Next blog will be back to “normal” – whatever that means! (laughing).  Thanks to all of you who are still with me and those of you who have recently subscribed!  I really appreciate you.  And now, on with the blog!

Photo credit: Bob Duke

My parents were avid gardeners.   I grew up helping in the vegetable gardens and my mom always had a beautiful flower garden wherever we lived.  She is still gardening! That love was passed on to me in a passion for landscaping and flower gardening. I also grew up with houseplants in the living room. Most of the plants in our house growing up had a history, a story of some sort that I fondly remember. There was the Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors plant, Purple Crown, and a Shamrock plant that all came from my grandma – my mom’s mother. Mom still tends those same plants today in her 80s!

My mom also had a philodendron vine, planted in a distinctive black ceramic planter shaped like a whale.  The philodendron also came from my grandmother, while the planter (which we called “Willie the whale”) was a gift to my mom while attending a spring formal for the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity my dad belonged to in college while my parents were still dating. The ball had been a Hawaiian theme and all the ladies had received an orchid lei and Willie the whale planters.  Over sixty three years later, Willie still has a special place in Mom’s home, and a very special place in all our hearts.

My wonderful grandma also had a way with African violets.  I remember 8 or 10 of them sitting on a table in a south facing window of the farmhouse that seemed to always smell like fresh baked bread, always blooming in various shades of purples, pinks, blues and white. My mom says she doesn’t have much luck with violets, but for some reason, I have several African violets that I’ve been growing for 18 years next month.  I can’t explain why I have luck with them, but my African violets are doing well for me in both an east and south facing window of our home. So what is their story?  I got them in a basket from my husband for our 11th wedding anniversary.  I remember that year because our anniversary is in September and the year was 2001.  It was the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks.  I remember staring at that beautiful basket and thinking how many people would never get to see another anniversary.


Some of my plants have names. A plant that both my mother and I have in our homes is an unruly grape Ivy named Cleo. Cleo’s story is that she was given to me as a get well gift after I broke my leg when I was 4 years old.  This year Cleo turned 54 years old!  (Yes, I know you can do the math!)  She came to our house in a cute little planter shaped like a puppy.

My mom has the original plant but I still have the planter and a “start” from the original Cleo that has been traveling with me across the country for the past 37 years.  I don’t know when or why I decided to name the plant Cleo, but she’s had that name for as long as I can remember.  Cleo is family.  I worry when she looks droopy or dull, I am happy when she looks bright and healthy. And laugh if you like, but she is in my will!

The last plant and its story I want to share with you is what my husband and I lovingly call our “relationship” plant.  It’s a huge Schefflera that sits in the corner of our living room.  My husband gave me that plant as a tiny sprig start when we were only dating.  I was living in a rundown one bedroom rental house and the landlord had given me permission to paint the walls and put some stick tile flooring down in the kitchen.  My husband, then boyfriend, helped me with much of the make over and when we were through, he brought me the sprig of Schefflera to place on a table in the tiny entry way as a kind of celebration gift.  After almost 29 years of marriage, he is still such a thoughtful, wonderful man.

The relationship plant has moved with us 6 times.  During one move, it sat in the hot trailer too long and part of it died off.  I remember feeling terribly guilty! We cut it back and it healed with vigor in the new house.  Our last move brought it to where we currently live in a house that has floor to ceiling windows in a living room with a 12 ft ceiling.  We have loved living in this home and our relationship plant has thrived here beyond our wildest expectations.  In fact, it grew to the height of the ceiling and then bent and started growing outward across the ceiling!  The top grew thick and sprawling, while the bottom dropped leaves and made the plant look like a weird, winding double helix.  We finally decided it needed to be cut back, but my husband would only agree to do it if he could root the cuttings.  So we cut the plant back to roughly 6 feet, repotted it into new soil and rooted the cuttings.  The plant thickened up at the base and began growing anew.  The cuttings all rooted nicely and have been given to new homes. Those who took them heard the original story and now begin to give those “children” new family stories.Plant stories are life stories.  They have heart and history.  I hope those of you reading this have many wonderful plants with stories of their own!





This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do your houseplants tell stories?

  1. Peggy Frye says:

    All my plants have stories as well, they are as much family as our hounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *