Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Your Moment of Georgia O'Keefe (And wordy asides.)

(Click for a larger version)
My orchid bloomed! My orchid bloomed!

Okay, so it's not that exciting.  Says YOU. 

But, still.


My clearance rack habit at Lowe's really paid off in this plant.  Bought last fall droopy and utterly without bloom prospects for $5 (they often try to sell the larger plants like this when in full regalia for $45), this phalaenopsis orchid cheerfully, if bloomlessly, inhabited my dining room window sill throughout the fall and winter.  I pruned off the withered twig that held the blossoms I never witnessed after watching a 10-minute YouTube video on the subject, and sealed the fresh cut with a paste of cinnamon and water as instructed. 

I'm telling you, we could probably perform a simple appendectomy after watching a 10-minute YouTube video on the subject, amIright?  Worked for Hemingway.


Anyway, as is usual, in my case, after said 10-minutes, I was a Phalaenopsis Expert. And an insufferable one at that.


Don't answer that.

Friends?! The phalaenopsis, despite its delicate appearance and exotic reputation, is quite a hardy plant. Found in nature often clinging precariously to moss in trees, the plant is surprisingly cold tolerant and requires very little fussing. Give it a good all over drenching only when the moss is fairly dry to the touch (root rot is a danger). I feed mine perhaps every fourth or fifth watering (and I'll step that up now that it's in full bloom) with an 11-35-15 mix of water soluble orchid food at 1 tablespoon: 1 gallon of water (and drench the leaves with it too). I submit that my Shasta daisies are FAR more finicky and way more whiny--God FORBID the Shastas go a day without a drink--they'll collapse weak as a post-partum Melanie Hamilton at the first hint of drought while the phalaenopsis, meanwhile, will be across the way on its perch, having not seen drop one of water for a week and yet looking hale and hardy as a greasy-chinned Kelly Clarkson on a Thanksgiving tryptophan high.     

The bloom you see here is as big as my hand (in other words ENORMOUS ask anybody) and has a twin on the other side of the vine directly opposite that is every bit as big and perfect as the one seen here.  And if that's not enough, you can see the next bud on the verge of blooming (there are at least six more?  Can you stand?).  I'm telling you, this plant is on the verge of slapping on a set of eye lashes and busting into a  chorus of, "Life is a cabaret ol' chum!  Come to the the cabareeeeeeet!"* Just don't, for God's SAKE, put an orchid in direct sunlight.  Indirect lighting only, please!  Much like Sally Bowles, it prefers the shady side of life. 

In conclusion I would only ask: What good is sitting alone in your room when you could be buying $5 Phalaenopsis?

Go hear the music play.

[As an aside, I stumbled upon a documentary called "Chris and Don" on Netflix recently and loved it.  It profiles the love story of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy. The two met on a California beach in the early 1950's and their nontraditional relationship would last the next 35 years despite the 30-year gap in their ages (Isherwood is the older man).  Perhaps these two and the film should have been the subject of this post rather than a side note because they are even more interesting (if you can imagine) than my orchid. Unfortunately, the post is written and spellchecked meaning it's too late to rethink the situation at this point. Alas!  Unbeknownst to me, Isherwood wrote the book "Cabaret" based on his own experiences in 1920s Berlin AS WELL AS the novel from which the film "A Single Man" is drawn. I'm a little boggled to learn both stories sprang from the same  mind. Isherwood, it turns out, is a brilliant writer and I of all people should have learned this years ago. I will be diving into his works ASAP. As an aside to my aside: Interestingly, Isherwood thought Liza Minelli "too good" to portray Sally Bowles. We can blame that on the !Fosse!, I'm sure.]   

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