Welcome to the Jungle

plants 1118Somewhere early in our relationship, I gave Lynn a little Norfolk pine. I don’t recall it, although I think Lynn does; she’s not here to recount it for me. She has already gone to work, four hours before I’ll go.

Anyway, if it’s an exciting story I’ll tell you about it later, but suffice it to say: I gave Lynn a little Norfolk pine. We used it for several years as our Christmas tree, draping one tiny strand of lights over its malleable branches and hanging ornaments off the pot, since the plant wouldn’t support that weight. Then it got too heavy to haul down the stairs from Lynn’s craft/sunroom, so we went without a tree, although she did occasionally light up the sheffleras (more on them in a moment). A couple years ago I bought a small LED artificial tree from Ace, which is too gaudy but which has one advantage over the Norfolk pine: it isn’t going to get any bigger.

We live in a land of megafauna, and Lynn (I believe we’ve established I’m the sentimental one) is already trying to divest us of our gargantuan green household members while I am trying to make provision for each and every one in our new bigger house with less space (see House Math).

The Norfolk pine, for instance, is seven and a half feet tall with a diameter of over five feet. It now owns the room it lives in, and I’m not 100 percent sure how we’re getting it out of there, through the hall, down the stairs, out the door and along our porch when it comes time to move.

But it’s only one of our big plants. We also have two sheffleras, a majestic palm and some sort of other palm that Lynn planted outside as a little spiky plant that sometime last year hit the ceiling.

Then there are the lucky bamboo (not so lucky — they barely survived my attempts to minister to them first at work and then at two locations in the house before we found one that worked for the remaining stalks), the airport rescue poinsettia-gone-wild, the fuschia I was gifted by the middle school secretaries when I left my job at the newspaper in 1995, the sticky wildflowers seeded at our wedding, the 10-foot-plus vine we received as a small cutting for our wedding . . . Lynn thinks we should be leaving some behind, while I think they should all come with us.

She gets exasperated with me when I rescue plants she is trying to kill. That ceiling-bound palm, for instance, was one of her summer plantings that she was just going to let go, but I brought it inside. A second one was banned from our house, so I took it to work, where it kept growing until Gilly started making noises about how much of her retail space it was taking up. It went to co-worker Ben’s new house, where his cats enjoy it and I haven’t shown his wife pictures of what will become of it as it grows toward the ceiling.

Lynn left the majestic palm outside one late fall to finish it off, and I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention, but I looked out one blustery, sleeting day and saw this poor little palm being lashed by this awful wintry moisture and suddenly there it was, in my car heading to work where Lynn wouldn’t see it. Space is always at a premium at work, however, and soon enough it came back home, where it still lives safely indoors and I believe has already been earmarked for a slot in one of the Someday bathrooms.

But we don’t have a spot in mind for the Norfolk pine. Twenty-five square feet of plant that is approaching eight feet in height. Dusty, our contractor, counseled against putting too many plants along the southern exposure, because apparently they suck up all the heat, not to mention blocking the view, but it’s likely to have to live somewhere in the living area, along with the ceiling palm, because that’s where the ceiling will peak at 14 feet.

It would be great if the pine could be transplanted outside, and its knotted roots would probably like that as well — but only until the temperature dropped. And if we thought seeing the majestic palm struggle in that blustery sleet got to my heartstrings — well, this was a gift I gave Lynn, even though I don’t remember the gifting. I do remember watching it grow, and the effort I put into re-potting it a couple months ago (taking on megafauna is an all-day affair, and I still have the sheffleras awaiting their turn at new and bigger homes), which just gives it room to grow even more . . . I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors, I know what ultimately happens.

But I can’t help myself. So I keep plunking broken cuttings in water, and making impulse purchases of sad little ivy plants at True Value, Lynn will keep rolling her eyes — and I remain determined to find a place in our new house for this giant of a sentimental tree.

norfolk pine 1118

I don’t know how to do captions, so I’ll just say here: sorry for the backlighting.

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