Anchored somehow by dirt

It’s been almost three months since I arrived in Bavaria, longer since I dismantled my deck garden and grow room and sent my favourite orchids and plants out for fostering. Needless to say, the move has been exciting, a wonderful opportunity to experience life across the pond. In a life marked by constant changes in scenery and geography, this is the “big one” — I don’t think I need to belabour that point. But something interesting happened to me yesterday…

I bought some houseplants. I’ve been resisting all summer, making do with the few plants left behind by the apartment’s previous occupant. We’re living a gypsy life in a home that came to us fully furnished, and it just didn’t make sense to add to the stuff that we’ll need to unload when we leave. This practicality has become a philosophy for me over long years of experience, but when it comes to green growing things and flowers, my resolve is non-existant. Happy though I am to be in Munich, I’ve been puzzled by the sheer envy I experience when I pass by the allotment gardens or read my sister-in-law’s latest report on her harvest from the vegetable patch. That funny little squeeze in my heart when I pick up a magazine and see pictures of bright little cottage gardens has me avoiding that part of the bookstore altogether. What IS that? Well, I think a new orchid and a couple of small tropicals may have answered the question.

A wanderer I may be, but everywhere I’ve gone, even if just for a little while, I’ve planted a garden. Not a bad legacy, but executed for purely selfish reasons. Yesterday, when I repotted the little plants, the feel of soil between my fingers was enormously soothing. The pretty blooms on the orchid (an unnamed variety that I would not ordinarily buy for that very reason) made me smile, smoothed out the little bump in my heart just a bit.

I can’t be a wanderer and not be a gardener too — it’s my way of coping with an irresistable urge to connect with a place, even if I can’t stay. I’ve lived in few buildings in my life that I would call home, but I’m always at home in the earth, in a garden of my own making. I prefer a real garden, of course, but when improvisation is required, a few pots on my windowsill will do.

Img_1979Meet my little unnamed orchid, which I bought at the hardware store and which I am quite sure is a Burrageara Stefan Isler ‘Lava Flow’

Compare it with this photo.

Fun indoor activities

We’re having a bit of a bug problem – roaches, actually. Ugh. I’ve caught a couple around the kitchen sink in the mornings, a nice way to start the day. So, I decided to make the best of a bad situation, and squeeze some entertainment value out of it while waiting for the roach traps to work. I decided to catch one, and feed it to my Venus Flytrap.

At the earliest opportunity, I lightly squished one under a paper tower, and then picked it up to inspect for signs of life; the flytrap won’t close unless there’s at least a little squirming action. I saw several legs wave in the air. Holding the paper towel in one hand, I retrieved an old pair of tweezers from the bathroom, and as I passed through the living room, I said, “Laird! Come see me feed a bug to my plant”.

Intrigued, he put the movie on pause, and left his chair in front of the TV to follow me into the grow room. I picked up the flytrap and held it close, then I opened the paper towel and applied tweezer to bug. Bug moved. I jumped. Bug and tweezers flew. Laird snorted in disgust and returned to his seat in the living room, muttering
something unflattering about me and bugs.

I may be squeamish, but I’m not easily deterred. A little while later, while watering my plants, I discovered some aphids on the buds of my phal-type dendrobium. I never get excited about buds on that plant, they exist just to irritate me by drying up and falling off before they ever bloom. I digress. There were some sizeable specimens of aphids there, so I rooted around on the floor under the pots, and retrieved my tweezers. I tried to pick an aphid up with the tweezers, but it fell
off. So I lined up the flytrap under the bud, and used one of the tongs to try to knock one into the jaws of the waiting plant. I assume the aphids must have had some awareness of the fate waiting for them below, because every one I nudged leaped off in a different direction, but never straight down.

Finally, I got one in. A little one. I must have been heavy handed with the tweezer, ‘cause it was lifeless. The jaws stayed open. So I took the end of the tweezer, and tapped the pad a couple of times. It shut with a resounding clap. Well, it was soundless, really, but I’m sure it clapped. Applauding my efforts
maybe. I know I had no credibility with my audience in the living room.

Blooming at my house today…

This is a Phrag. Sedenii ‘Blush’, otherwise known as a Phragmipedium. I bought this one in bloom from John Marcotte, it has a second spike that is about to bust out another set of flowers any day now.
Phrags are my favourite orchids — I love the slipper lip on the blooms, and they seem to grow well for me. They need lots and lots of water, so they don’t have any objections to my heavy-handed watering ways. I like a flower that likes me back.

This is Mtdm. Bartley Schwarz ‘Highland’ AM/AOS. “Mtdm.” stands for Miltonidium, which is a Miltonia crossed with an Oncidium. I guess if you don’t know what a Miltonia or an Oncidium look like, that’s not much help. But, it’s a pretty flower, there are several on the spike, and they’re a deep burgundy red with a creamy white lip. I can take full credit for this one, it’s the first time it has bloomed for me.

This little cutie isn’t an orchid, it’s an air plant of some kind. I think it’s really a Tribble from an old Star Trek episode.

Begone, miserable African Violets!

I’m finally fed up with the african violets — after all this time, they still haven’t shown any spark of recovery. The leaves were tiny and deformed with red streaks through them, the flowers (what few there were) super small and twisted, and there was just no sign of new growth anywhere, no matter what I did to coax and prod and plead. I think they have a virus. So, this morning I swept them all off the shelf and into the garbage, except for one that looks perfectly fine and is one tough customer. My light stand in the front hall is bare… and ready to be loaded up with orchids!