Friday, April 22, 2011

Pretty in Pink!

It's almost Easter and a late one at that. Did you know that in some years Easter occurs as early as March 22? I heard Easter described as a "moveable feast day in the Christian church year". However, the explanation for this is really complex and deeply rooted in church history so I won't go into it here. A nice thing about a later Easter Sunday is that in most places in the Northern Hemisphere the weather has begun to improve. Warmer weather means Easter egg hunts outside on the lawn, and little girls in bright pastels. (Can't you just picture the little white purses we carried to church and our shiny patent leather shoes?) Unfortunately I cannot say that Northwest Washington will be blessed with warmer weather. We will likely top out at 50 degrees and the chances of sun at a sunrise service are only moderate. I will still be dressed in a series of warm layers when I attend our Easter church service. However, God knows that it is spring even here in Skagit County, Washington and therefore we have acres and acres of brightly colored bulbs, flowering trees, and even azaleas and rhododendrons to delight our eye and lift our spirits. It may not be warm but it will be beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, pictured above is a bright pink kalanchoe which was given to me as a hostess gift by a close guy friend of ours. Did you know that this plant is actually pronounced kal-an-ko-ee? I learned this about a year ago when I attended a very informative lecture at our local library about gardening with succulents in containers. Anyway, I don't use a lot of pink in my house but at Easter time bright pinks and robin egg blue seem so appropriate.

I actually received this kalanchoe at Christmas. It was blooming then as profusely as it is now. I assumed at the time that it had been forced in a greenhouse and that I would likely get one showing and that was it. I didn't even position it in a sunny location but rather stationed it in an unlighted spot in the dining room for optimal viewing while seated. And then I proceeded to ignore it... I even forgot to water it! A few weeks back I decided to do a little indoor plant maintenance so I gave it a good soaking and clipped the spent blossoms. Next, without even transplanting (I was too lazy), I set the little plastic container in this very cool clay pot and moved it to the living room. Look at it now! It's robust and covered with blossoms.

Well my friends, this little story is not just about the plant but it's about a bargain; and I love to write about bargains. While recently in Tucson visiting my parents, my mom and I took a walk through Home Goods. I really didn't expect to find anything below my spending limit, which on this given day was $20. However, above is proof positive that it never hurts to have a look. As you can see I scored this amazing cloche, (French for bell), for $14.99! It is a lovely hand-blown treasure from Poland. I didn't know what I was going to do with it but I had to have it. We've all been there, right? Well, my adorable little kalanchoe seems to be thriving beneath it. The bell added additional structure and dimension to the plant-in-pot and thus very appropriately anchors my coffee tabletop arrangement. And because the table is low, relative to other pieces of furniture in our house, the bell doesn't obstruct conversation.

At the aforementioned lecture regarding succulents the speaker affectionately referred to this classification of succulents as, "the lowly kalanchoe". We all laughed about how common they are in the floral departments at supermarkets and how given husbands are to grabbing them to bring home as love-tokens. A close friend was furious at her husband several year ago for giving her a most-enormous kalnchoe (with orange blossoms) on their anniversary. She was hoping for a new sewing machine!

Guess what? Just in the past few years this historic wall flower has been paid much more attention by growers. Perhaps in response to the outcry of wives everywhere, a wide array of new colors has been cultivated. Attention guys! You can redeem yourselves because you now have a choice other than orange! And not only are there new and brilliant colors for you to choose from but there are exotic new blossom shapes as well. This proverbial Plain Jane suddenly burst forth!

Maybe I have given you reason to rethink this humble little succulent. They are still very low maintenance (as my Gramma would say, they 'thrive on neglect'). There are beautiful colors available, they are prettier than they've ever been and they are more highly esteemed by housewives. Husbands rejoice! Just as an aside, a new sewing machine (or a gift at that level) is still the better choice.

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Wishing you a most blessed Easter!

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