By Stephanie Cavanaugh
A YEAR AGO, Baby gave me an offshoot of one of her philodendrons, a fine Monstera with several glossy leaves and a tangle of roots just beginning at its base.
I stuck it in a tall, vividly colored Chinese vase and set it on the drum table in a corner of the living room, figuring at some point I’d pot it up, but other things, I don’t recall what, were more urgent.
There it sat, happy in the vase, a handsome thing and, fortuitously, one of few that do not leak. Soon, a new leaf appeared, and then another. The roots grew thicker. Sometimes I’d add a branch of something from my greenhouse, an elephant ear or palm frond, or I’d splurge on a bunch of flowers to shove among the leaves to add a little extra oomph. The philodendron forms a fine base for such floral flourishes. The only effort required was to change the water every week or so (the cut stems begin to rot, and the stink is a handy reminder to do so).
In late spring, the sago palm, a cold-averse tropical, moved from its pedestal on the hall chest to a grander pedestal on the front porch, and the vase took its place in the hal, the plant still thriving in water. Summer flowers from the garden looked charming tucked among the greens: sweet-smelling mock orange with its tiny white flowers, caladium leaves with their dramatic sunset streaks.
The vase looks good in the hallway, brightening the dark green walls. I was going for something Sherlockian, deep and velvety, but slightly missed. It looks more like a British police station on some BBC crime show; Vera, Endeavor, or Lewis. Flowers help. Anyway, repainting would distract My Prince from the already lengthy list of Honey Do projects lined up.
Specifically, that would be replacing my second-floor greenhouse, which he tore down in a burst of energy last April, with a master plan in hand for expansion and . . . and . . . so I have a helluva crowd of cold-fearing plants to deal with this fall and nowhere to put them. That’s an aside.
Anyway, it’s getting to be time to move the sago palm back to the hallway from its porch perch, which means the philodendron, still in its vase, will return to the drum table in the living room. Why mess with success, even if it’s inadvertent.
I’m thinking that an explosion of orange berries and sunflowers stuffed among the leaves would be quite nice amid the exotica cluttering the tabletop.
But that’s another story.