Friday, March 16, 2012

Freaks of Nature

Well, I have just returned from my weekend in France, and my head is spinning with all the crazy stories I have to tell.  Regardless of where I travel, I seem to bring my own special brand of bad luck with me, and France was certainly not immune to my misadventures.

I have one small problem, though—every time I attempt to blog about my foreign foibles, my train of thought gets derailed by mental images of blossoming begonias and sprouting snapdragons.

See, I seem to have a strange affliction that hits me every spring; I become inexplicably obsessed with the overwhelming urge to plant stuff—lots of stuff.  I call it my "rooting" instinct, and after attempting to write several stalled blog posts about my disastrous plane ride overseas, I realized that I would simply not be able to write about Paris until I got some of this flower fixation out.

I suppose—if there were a term for my botanical dysfunction—I would be classified as an FSA: a Flora Shopping Addict.  My obsession begins every year in late winter when my urge to sprout overwhelms my already questionable sense of reason.  My compulsion drives me to stare endlessly at the glowing computer screen—well into the wee hours of the night—ordering seeds and consulting my flow charts to sort out critical issues like whether I should pot the lobelia with the petunias or with the impatiens.  Will that be too much sun?  Will the lobelia dry out?  Will they fail to thrive in a shady basket of impatiens? Would verbena be a more aesthetically pleasing pairing?  If so, which colors? Etc...etc...

I get a particular sense of triumph from buying hard-to-find seeds through the mail and sprouting them under grow-lights in my basement.  In fact, the rarer the plant and the more complicated the germination, the more likely I am to become absolutely obsessed with growing it.  Every spring, my basement ends up looking like Dr. Frankenstein's workshop—complete with eerie glowing lights and strange-looking, oddly-greenish living things.

But as luck would have it, there are some plants that are simply not available to grow from seed.  So it never fails that every year I become obsessed with some crazy, exotic plant that sounds like an absolutely brilliant idea on the internet but turns into a disaster once it's been installed in my home.

For example, two years ago I decided I simply could not go on living without having my very own weeping redbud tree.  What the heck is a weeping redbud? you ask.  Well, I would have asked the very same question until I stumbled upon a picture of one in some obscure forum for rabid gardeners.

I was immediately entranced.  The whimsical-looking branches and beautiful blossoms were so unique that I knew the tree would instantly become the centerpiece of my yard and the envy of my neighborhood!

Unfortunately, this is not what MINE ended up looking like.  I paid $130 for a tree about a third of this size.  Said tree nearly caused my husband and our neighbor irreparable spinal damage while being installed, and then it lived for about three weeks before drying up into a creepy pile of twisted sticks that could have starred in a Tim Burton film.

I called the nursery that sold me the plant and told them that my tree had long surpassed "weeping" and was now clearly in "inconsolable" territory.  A tree doctor made a house call.  After carefully placing a stethoscope on several spots of the trunk and holding a mirror over the various limbs to watch for condensation, the doctor confirmed that the tree was indeed not breathing.  He would not attempt mouth-to-trunk resuscitation due to the high probability of losing an eye to the sharp Edward Scissorhands-like branches that protruded haphazardly in all directions from the dead monstrosity.

Depressed over my expensive dead pile of sticks, I distracted myself by spending the rest of the summer fussing over getting my hands on an exotic breed of impatiens plant from Rwanda.  It was gorgeous, extremely rare, and I was in love.  After several months of non-stop internet searching and a few emails that bordered on stalker-ish behavior, I finally found someone who was willing to ship me one of these rare gems.

This is what the beautiful plant from Rwanda looked like when it arrived on my doorstep:

I was over the moon for my unusual little plant.  I fussed and fawned over it, moved it around for extra air flow and optimal humidity, and made sure it had a healthy level of self-esteem by telling it on a daily basis how absolutely gorgeous it was.  I ministered to its every need, experimented with different fertilizers and potting mixes when it seemed unhappy, and rehabilitated it over and over again by taking cuttings and rooting new plants when the originals drooped and shriveled.

But despite my tender care, after nearly a year of love and attention to every possible need this unique plant might have, this is what now adorns my windowsill:

 Not exactly an award-winning specimen. 

My husband's response to my heartbreak and frustration was, simply, "For God's sake, don't you think there might be a good reason it only grows in Rwanda?!"


My hubby tolerates my infatuation with bizarre and unusual plants with open distaste.  He can't possibly fathom why I'd want to get some exotic plant that requires me to worry, bother, and persistently fuss over it.  In his view, we already have two children who have those requirements, so why would we want to make our lives even more complicated?

I understand where he's coming from―I really do.  Yet for some odd reason, the weirder the plant, the more likely I am to go nuts over it.

This year I have taken a fancy to the idea of getting something called a "Three-in-One Angel Trumpet Tree."  Now, the fact that the photo on the website looks like it may have been heavily Photoshopped should be a clue that this could turn out to be a truly terrible idea—especially since I live in a zone in which said Trumpet Tree would need to be brought indoors for the winter.

But, as I said before, all rational thought goes out the window when my rooting instincts are in heat.  I mean, just look how gorgeous it is!  I want it!  I want it now!  And the website says (and I quote)... "There is no sensation more unforgettable than that of an Angel Trumpet heavy with blossoms releasing its intoxicating scent." 

I mean, heck, people...according to the internet there's a good chance this tree will be better than SEX! 

Of course, there's also the distinct possibility that when the tree comes in for the winter, I will be put outside in its place.  Especially since my plants have been getting more "action" than my hubby lately.

 He's not too thrilled about it, either.

But all is not lost—after much consideration, I now have a fool-proof plan:  The next time my husband gets worked up over some crazy specimen I'm ogling, I will lift his spirits by appealing to his sense of practicality.  After all, he is an engineer, and he sees little value in things that are pretty just for pretty's sake.  He likes things in our home to have multiple uses, so I've come up with the perfect solution―I will propose the purchase of the following rarity:

This freak of nature is called the Stinking Corpse Lily.  It's the largest known flower in the world; it's very rare, hard to locate, it smells like a decaying/rotting carcass, and—here's the kicker—I think it might just make for the perfect "time-out" chair for when our kids misbehave!

Sitting on a dining room chair for five minutes will be a thing of the past—we'll just duct tape our kids' butts to the Stinking Corpse Lily!

As an added bonus—according to internet sources—the reservoir in the middle of this monstrosity can hold seven to eight gallons of water.  So there will be no more cries of "I need to get out of time-out to go potty!"  This "giant stinker" will be the perfect place on which to plop our little stinkers, for it will serve as a time-out chair and potty seat all in one!  Now, if that's not practical, I don't know what is! 

Of course, I suppose it would probably be a wise idea to make sure it's not carnivorous first. 

It's brilliant!  What could possibly go wrong?

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  1. Oh My Gosh!!! You made me laugh so hard! I, too, am an avid gardener and have been known to import from far away lands, so I empathize...COMPLETELY!

    Currently, I am in love with the Tahiti daffodils I imported from Holland. They are show stoppers! I will begin working on my tuberous begonias next week! :)

    Can't wait to hear about France!

  2. Oh my goodness! You must link this up tonight or tomorrow! Is the tree really better than sex- sign me up for that tree! Oh, France- LOVE IT!!! And I am jealous! I am also moving to wordpress next week- so I hope you will follow via rss and/or email to see my posts. Hope to see you on the laughs- this post certainly needs to be there!

  3. Never in my entire adult life did I think I'd laugh this hard over plants. made my night!


  4. Guess what? I have actually seen a real stinking corpse lily (originally named "rafflesia" after its discoverer) while on a hike in Penang, an island of Malaysia, one of the countries in which it grows!
    I never would've thought of all those ideas for its use, ha!
    I love plants, esp flowers, but have an exceptionally black thumb--iow, I can't grow them to save my life. Maybe I will try a raised bed garden this year, just to shake things up a bit around here (you know, things can get pretty slow-moving with 8 kids in the house! Heh heh) Also, this is my first time living in the US in 39 years, so I am still getting used to the climate, plants, etc.
    Anyways, have a great weekend!

  5. I used to do all that, then I got the internet. One year I was sure I was going to grow prize winning humongoid strawberries and blueberries! I'm still waiting. What I did plant the squirrels feasted on. The blueberry bush is still the yard and looks like a giant weed. Those delicious grapes! The vine along the privacy fence, growing and growing and the kids can pick their own food and snack while in the yard (and one less thing I'd have to fetch for them). We'd plant and eat of the earth! Like the amish or our ancestors! I was so very excited. Still waiting for grapes 4 years later, but that vine is green during the summer.

  6. Man. I don't even fool myself with plants anymore. They shirk away from me when they see me coming 'cause they know I'll just kill them. I just let them grow naturally in the ground, wherever they are.....

    I never want to encounter that stinky lily. That flower looks scary. I heard they only bloom every few years or something?

  7. You and I have bonded previously over our mutual lack of cooking skills, but I can honestly say that I have NO gardening skills whatsoever! The Rwandan plant was gorgeous--I'm sorry for your loss. ;) I have a plant-eating (then plant-barfing) cat, so even bouquets from my hubby have to be hidden away where the dumb feline can't get them. So we don't even have houseplants, for now. Some day!

  8. Thank you for linking up with the Planet Weidknecht Weekend Hop!

  9. ah
    what indeed?

    i too
    have that strange
    rooting addiction
    but i tend to stick
    to plants that are a little more

    in fact
    my favorite plant source
    is my lovely neighbor down the street
    who calls me each spring and fall
    when she is de-clumping
    to trundle my wheel barrow down the block
    and take what i want

    you have a delightful blog
    and a witty way with words

    and france?
    you went to france?

    in the words of Napoleon Dynamite


    i linked up
    on your LF linky
    and am now following you
    via LF and GFC
    cause i'm thorough like that

    thanks for stopping by
    Stuff and Nonsense!


  10. and one more thing

    we have a version
    of that trumpet flower shrub thing
    and we hate it
    with the white hot passion of a thousand burning suns

    it is like a weed
    and takes over everything in its path

    just my two cents!


  11. Oh my. What would we do with our time and money if not for our obsessions! LOL I love gardening too, but my obsession runs more in the 'making it as low maintenance, environmentally friendly and sustainable, while also pretty' realm. Challenging, but rewarding indeed! Good luck with that Stinking Corpse Lily! That oughta cut down on bad behaviour in a hurry!!

  12. You are so funny on this! My favorite plants are cacti, because you can just leave them on their own. My hubby has white hair, so I got him this "old man" cactus that sits outside his car workshop in a pot, and it looks like a white haired head. I only have to water it about twice a month. It looks like cousin It. I like the function of that last flower, although explaining that smell to guests who come to your house might be tricky;)

  13. I suffer from the same affliction, Jenn. I can't tell you how many exotic plants I thought I could make thrive in the baking Oklahoma sun. That stinky flower though...not so much! LOL!
    Take pics of your yard this spring and share them with us!
    Love ya, sister!

  14. It looks like you have the same kind of luck with plants/trees that I do. I dream of having a beautiful yard & every Spring I think "I'm going to do it this year", but I hate the heat, the sweat...maybe next year.

    Visiting from VoiceZBoks!

  15. Loving the timeout idea ;)

    Newest follower :) You can follow me back here

  16. I had my time where I was obsessed with Antique Roses. I did so much research my husband thought I was crazy. I bought all the roses I wanted online and planted them and loved them for like two years. Then I got bored with gardening and they kinda went to pot. My husband just pulled them out last week cause he's a rose hater. Oh well - I do get obsessive about things sometimes. Loved this post.

  17. I wish I could go to France (I need to add that to my Bucket List:)... Really enjoyed this post:)I am one of your newest followers. Following you from Winky Linky Weekend Hop on your blog. Would love for you to become a follower of mine:).

  18. That Corpse Lily will run off anyone with 5 is FOUL.
    I do have a tangerine colored trumpet vine that's about 7 years old. I love it, but it grows towards the sun on the other side of our back fence, so the best blooms are seen when I drive by on the way home. They are invasive, but mine has never been a problem. I'd like it to invade the other side of the fence! It survived the hurricane that ripped up trees and the entire fence, so you may have success with one. : )
    I bought mine in the ever exotic land of Costco.
    You are hilarious!

  19. I found you on the blog hop and I'm curious about your misadventures in France. My wife and I were there this summer and we had a few misadventures of our own. If you're interested, the links tell the story.

  20. Ohh God... Hilarious...!!

    Once upon a time I loved gardening and I use to spend a lot of time in gardening.. But I have never had laugh like this over a 'gardening story'.. Thank you!

    Princess Liya

  21. Jenn... I too go crazy in the springtime! For me it's fresh herb! I have been waiting and waiting for herb and their seeds to come in! Blessings! Can't wait to hear about France!

  22. I have the spring planting fever too and I'm praying I'll be able to keep whatever I decide to plant, alive! Hope you had a fabulous time in France! Lucky girl! And as always...thanks for the giggles! :)


  23. I loved this post and I'm thinking our husbands could start a support group for spouses of obsessed plant ladies!! Although, my dad is worse than I am. I have gone nuts over antique roses have fussed over them to the same extent that I have over my children. I knew something was wrong when after many attempts to get the stupids aphids from eating my beloved roses I bought ladybugs and waited till the appointed time to let them go. My kids looked at me like it was time to look into homes for crazy plant people!! By the way my dad had grown the Angel Flower plant, we live in New York, and it was gorgeous, yes they brought it in, I think it did not survive after a season or two, but it was breathtaking and really worth it. I realize I just enabled you! Sorry! Great post!!

  24. You crack me up. I look forward to your blogs because I know they will guarantee a laugh!

  25. I LOVED this! I'm a novice gardener, have been for almost 5 years now. My husband wonders why I haven't just given in to my "black thumb" yet. I can't explain it, there's something exciting about creating life! lol I'm so glad I hopped by, I'll definitely be back for more! Desiree' with

  26. OMG that seems to be all I have for you. Been there done that, I guess that's why I try to keep it simple but, like you I love all things ODD. Great story.

  27. Oh my gosh Jenn, that captcha video was hilarious!! Thank you for posting that ;)

  28. That trumpet tree looks gorgeous, Jenn! And those stinkers, from what I know, are here in Asia. They call it 'Rafflesia' here, after the man who discovered that plant. Unlucky guy, lol! :D

  29. Visiting you from my hop Mompreneur need to visit my house I have many weeping plants and I'm pretty positive they are not suppose to be weeping LOL they need help!

  30. I have had my share of FSA and a few of the same results!!

  31. Hahaha that is the perfect time out chair!! I wish I had your enthusiasm for plants. Every year I mean to plant flowers and even buy the seeds and then those seeds sit in a pile that gets bigger and bigger every year! oops ;)

  32. Thanks for visiting my blog today! Yes you need some venus fly traps and pitcher plants! They are good for ant control. They can't eat them all but eventually the ants stay away from them. They are a little finicky though. They need lots of sun and very poor soil, like peat moss, high humidity, very moist soil, but not too moist... like I said they are picky so we'll see if it survives.

  33. Found you through blog hop. Glad I did! Newest follower...please follow back!

  34. I don't have a green thumb at all, the only plant that I've manage to keep alive is my bamboo house plants. Suprisingly easy to take care of for me anyways. :) That's awesome, I usually use a big spoon, this looks simpler...I'm a new follower from the hop! Hope to see you at my blog soon!

  35. What a great post! With regard to the rare impatiens, my husband remarked "at least you have a stem and it is still green" - forever the optimist. That lily scares me!!!

  36. This was truly LOL and LOL again. My husband is bewildered by my finding humor in the survival by cannibalism show he's watching right now.

    Thanks for joining Flock Together this week. I am now your happy LF follower.

  37. Hi Jenn! I am happy to tell you that I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Please visit my blog for all the details!

    Have a great day!
    Addicted to Recipes

  38. LOL - glad I'm not the only one that has the urge to plant everything under the sun! or in the shade :) Most of my plantings don't survive but I'll blame it on the dogs - even though they don't bother the things I plant in the front yard! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!! Great post!
    BTW - TAG - you're it... details here:

  39. Found you on Welcome Wednesday, looking forward to your posts


  40. Very funny. I don't think I've ever met anyone with FSA. :-) Thanks for hopping by my place yesterday. I'm following you here.

  41. Oh my, this made me giggle hardcore! Found you through the blog hop and wanted to show you some blog love & another follow! I tried to sign up through your link, but it's not working :(

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Angel! A couple of other people said it was down too...hmmm... I removed some wonky code and hope that fixed it! Heading over to your blog now to say hello!

  42. Your linky isn't working. I tried it on crome, yahoo and fire fox. Let me know when it's fixed.

    1. Wow, Natalie, thanks for being so intrepid! I found some extra code and got rid of it...I'm hoping that fixed the problem. Let me know if you're able to link up! And THANK YOU!!

  43. Very funny post---I'm not much of a grower, but I do love looking at plants--I like the TIMEOUT plant idea =)

  44. wowowo fantastic post dear
    i love reading your posts
    nice blog

    do check my latest posts

  45. a tree that's better than sex!! plant!!!
    i'm so sorry the plant didn't work out.
    i was laughing so hard at your ideas for the stinking corpse lilly. like duct taping your children to it. HAHAHA! you should have a reality show...i would watch it obsessively!! :)
    have a sweet weekend! <3

  46. I can relate to your story. Right now I have all sorts of contraptions and deer "repentant" trying to protect my plants. I have asking my husband for night vision goggles for Christmas the past 4 years so I can "catch" the creatures who think my gardens are the midnight buffet.

  47. Hi Jenn! I found you through Blog Hops Everyday and am now following you through Linky!
    I'm loving your blog already and can't wait to read more.

  48. Oh, Jenn. You never fail to make me laugh! That HIDEOUS Stinking Corpse Lily... wow. Didn't know there was such a thing!

  49. That's hilarious. Does your husband ever come to help you? I'm envy of your indoor garden prep! co2 for plants


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