I know gardeners can be an excitable bunch when it comes to flowers and vegetables, soil and pests. Seed catalogs on a snowy day, bulbs poking up with the first warm breath of spring, an enormous sunflower, and fifty shades of green — all these things and more can get a gardener’s pulse racing.
Still, I thought my neighbor’s excitement over a small bloom was a bit overdone.
It all began when said neighbor — an avid gardener and propagator — offered me some free plants, a full tray’s worth to be exact. In the mix were some cacti, one of which had a small blossom that the neighbor was excited to point out to me.
I’m the first one to admit that I’m very much an even kind of a person. I don’t work well with extreme emotions — but there are those moments when a particular color or a flower or a flower of that particular color can get me revved. It may not appear that way to the outside world, but inside I’m positively giddy.
Still, I thought my neighbor’s reaction to this small bud was a bit much. The bloom size to excitement ratio just didn’t add up.
Perhaps, I thought, it’s because I’m not a cactus fan. Yes, I love the flowers and various structures — I’m just not sure I want to garden with a cactus. It’s stressful enough to worry about bugs that sting, but a plant as well?
Besides, I take a daily dose of aspirin and blood thinning medication, so the idea of being pricked and jabbed and stuck is often a concern. I know gardening requires a lot of blood, sweat, and tears — I just don’t think it should risk me losing all of my blood.
Once home, I planted the cactus in a small terracotta pot and waited and waited and waited. With each passing day of waiting, though, the blossom grew larger — and within me, I felt the bubbling surge of excitement. Is this, I wondered, how it began for my neighbor?
I tried to keep myself in check, but the size of the blossom soon rivaled the size of the 7” cactus tower! Each day, I squatted in front of the potted cactus and marveled at the lantern-shaped blossom. I so badly wanted to pop the thing with a pin — as if it were an over-inflated balloon — so that I could somehow accelerate its opening.
Patience won out, until one morning, when I stepped outside . . .
And I thought a starfish had somehow crawled its way out of the ocean, across highways and parking lots, and wrapped itself around the terracotta pot holding the cactus.
I called Joe from the house immediately. I took photos of it from every conceivable angle. I even alerted the neighbors — who then, in turn, brought their friends over to look at my star.
We, each and every one of us, were enthralled by this big thing on a small package. None of us had ever seen anything like it — and we couldn’t get enough of it before it withered away.
Now there’s another small bud, and with each day, it’s growing and I can feel myself skipping inside. I know what’s coming and I now understand my neighbor’s overly enthusiastic reaction to the small bud’s appearance.
In fact, the ratio of his excitement to the size of the blossom was perfect because he knew what he was giving me: a cactus, a bloom, a thrill.