(Host) Spring is a time for celebrating all things green and growing. And for writer, historian
and commentator Edith Hunter, it’s also a time for remembering.
One of the wonderful old books in this house is titled Window and
Parlor Gardening. A guide for the Selection, Propagation and Care of
Houseplants by N. Jonsson-Rose with illustrations by the author. It was
published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1895.
wrote that a plant, "when unfolding leaf after leaf and blossom after
blossom is not merely a beautiful object, it is a living being replete
with interest; for it is not only the form we admire or the color, but
more than anything the mystery of life, the wonderful and constant
changes working beneath our eyes."
"The mystery of life" and what a mystery it is!
my son Graham died a year ago last March, I was given a small pot of
flowers. It was about eight inches by four inches and rectangular in
shape. In it were an African violet, a philodendron, a Boston fern, an
umbrella plant and something I have not been able to identify. They were
a rich green, small, and all very much alive.
After about a
month, they had grown so steadily that I decided they were crowding each
other too much. I asked my daughter-in-law April, who has a way with
plants, to separate them and put each one in a separate pot. She did
this and now they are a handsome mass of greenery growing on a table by
the window in my kitchen.
I have got to figure out something for
the philodendron to climb up on. And the umbrella plant is now almost
two feet tall. What does the future hold for it? I have never housed one
In describing the best climate for houseplants, the
author of my houseplant guide suggests that the house should be
"sufficiently warm" but that "an occasional low degree of heat above the
freezing point does not injure any plants, provided the mean annual
temperature is sufficient."
I heat only with wood. I have a
soapstone stove in the kitchen and I don’t get up in the night to feed
it. As a result, the kitchen can be pretty chilly by the time I come
down at 7 o’clock . One night in January it went down to -8º outside and
when I came down in the morning it was 42º in the kitchen near the
plants which are on the opposite side of the room from the stove. Like
me, the plants must have found it stimulating, although they may have
breathed a sigh of relief after I got my faithful soapstone stove
roaring. Before long I had the kitchen up to 60º.
I don’t yet
know what I will do with these plants when summer comes. But they are
certainly a lovely living reminder of my son Graham.