It was the day of our 20th anniversary, but I COULD NOT miss the annual Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society sale at the Toronto Botanical Garden (a different account of this story appears over here). Davin entertained my desire to go — an anniversary gift of sorts and one that he has been generously giving over and over through the years. So we rented an expensive, pay-by-the-minute Smart Car and made our way well across town. We took a different route than usual and got lost. I swear, I can’t imagine how I would have learned to drive 20 some years ago without the aid of technologies such as GPS maps and smart phones. When we arrived the place was packed. We drove around in circles endlessly, mentally watching the rental fee rise before a plan was hatched that I would run inside and try to buy my plants as quickly as possible while Davin continued playing musical chairs in the parking lot.
With flat and fleshy, bluish/silver/green leaves that reach out horizontally as if the plant may take flight, Propeller Plant (Crassula perfoliata var. falcata) is an aptly named South African succulent that I think you’ll love. For those who are curious, according to “Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners,” the Latin “falcata” or “falcate” means sickle-shaped and indeed they do resemble a series of sickles stacked up a stem. How’s that for a little Botanical Latin learning on a Thursday afternoon?
I probably should have waited to post this until it was doing something more exciting than simply being alive in a pot, but the fact that it is alive at all is one reason why I find this euphorbia so thrilling in the first place.
Euphorbia platyclada is a living succulent plant that looks dead, or at the very least like a zombified plant taking imperceptible micro-steps forward with its leafless arms* splayed out and fingers dangling like dead weights. It is yet another oddity in my growing collection of alien euphorbias from outer space, and was also a gift from my friend and fellow Euphorbia enthusiast Uli.
The voodoo lily’s (Amorphophallus bulbifer) reputation as a real stinker precedes it, and I have to admit that I have always been a bit hesitant about introducing something that smells badly to my home. Still, as the bulb drew closer to blooming, it was curiosity, and the worry that I would miss the event that made me bring it right up to my kitchen door.
On the morning that it opened, Davin woke up before me (as he does) and opened the kitchen window to let in a breeze. He says he was instantly whacked in the face by a terrible smell. Within an hour it had permeated the entire house!
Last Friday, I took a trip out of the city with some friends to buy herbs, and came home with something unexpected. Pig’s Ear (Cotyledon orbiculata) is a pretty grey-blue-green succulent with big, fleshy leaves and orange flowers. According to my favourite go-to succulent identification book, “Succulents: The Illustrated Dictionary” by Maurizio Sajeva and Mariangela Costanzo, it’s from South Africa and not hardy in my zone so I’ll be keeping it in a pot and it will go outside in another month or so with my other tender succulents. Those of you in zones 7 and up will have the good fortune of keeping it outside year-round and may even be able to put it in the soil if you have lots of sun and a dry spot that drains well. It’s look and spreading growth habit reminds me of Flapjack (Kalanchoe thyrsifolia), but with pointier leaves.