When I was younger, I never really understood sentimental gardening. Now it's one of my favorite things about gardening.
I love knowing the history of my plants. My Canna Tropicanna was a present from my singing teacher, Red, about 12 years ago. She thought it was lost when her cranky landlord got on his tractor and plowed her garden under. After my singing lesson one day a few months later I spied Tropicanna coming up in the field. We dug it up and split the rhizome so we could each have some. Recently, years after Red's passing, I split some Tropicanna off and gave it to my current singing teacher, who was also a student of Red's. Red's plant, like her teaching, lives on in our gardens.
You can see, then, how I kinda view one's plants as an extension of self, and how passing up a wizened Christmas cactus at an estate sale might be an impossibility for me. I like 'em near-dead and try to bring them back to life. I purchased my neighbors Max and Berniece's Christmas cactus at their estate sale last year. It was droopy and sad, but after my tender ministrations gave me pretty pale pink blooms this year. Grandpa, who I saw at an estate sale I passed on the way to a funeral, has perked up phenomenally and gave me many blooms in February.
I keep hoping to collect *different* types of Christmas cactus, that bloom in different colors, but in the state I find them in there's no way to tell what you're getting. And some day I will get what I really want, which is one that blooms red. But I don't believe in going down to Home Depot to do so. That would be wrong...
Anyhoo, I thought I had totally scored when I bought another cactus last year. If it lived. It was so dry that its legs (or whatever you call them) were crispy like potato chips. There was some new growth, and it looked like it was rosy red. I hoped that maybe my red-blooming cactus desires had been fulfilled. Instead I have a new friend with a different flower form, who blooms his little head off in May. Love him.
Here he is before I trimmed off the dead parts (it's worth clicking to see a bigger photo and appreciate how bad off he was:
and after cleanup:
and here he is three months later after a little shade and water:
and here he is this week:
It makes me so happy to see him come to life.
UPDATE: Turns out that he is actually an EASTER cactus. I love him even better, now!