It’s a virtue that in some ways I possess in spades. I mean, (cough, cough), I spend all day with toddlers and I almost never yell or lose my cool. Truly.
But sometimes I do NOT want to wait. Sometimes I am all about the instant gratification. Sometimes I am not at all patient.
Let me give you an example.
A couple of years ago my sister-in-law gave me a gorgeous orchid. I had never had one before, and I was head over heels in love with its tender beauty. I read the little card that came with my plant. It said to give the plant 1/4 of a cup of water every week.
I was a little bit perplexed, because that seemed like a pretty meager amount of water for a tropical plant. I asked my sister-in-law how to grow it, and she gave me the advice that I later found online. Add an ice cube once a week and the plant will flourish.
Really? Once again, that didn’t seem like much water for a jungle plant. Plus, it was really really really cold water. Wouldn’t jungle rain be warmer?
Still, I did what I was advised to do. Because I hate being cold, I skipped the ice and went with the 1/4 cup of cold water once a week.
My flowers stayed in bloom.
They stayed in bloom so long in fact, that when I went to visit my 87 year old Mom, and saw her orchid starting to wilt, I offered to take it home and save it.
I put both orchids in a sunny spot and watered them every 7-10 days with a little splash.
They both dropped their petals, lost some leaves and keeled over.
I was heartbroken.
I mean, I don’t have a lot of skills to brag about, but I thought I could at least keep a houseplant alive! One of the orchids turned totally brown and began to look more like a tumbleweed than a jungle creature. I sadly tossed her onto my compost pile and turned to her barely alive sister.
“Please tell me how to bring you back,” I whispered sadly to my spindly friend. “Look on Youtube,” she whispered back, her voice so weak that I could barely hear the faint hope it held out. “Google orchids….google….care for orchids…..”
I wiped the tears from eyes and followed her sage advice.
And there I learned that (AHEM) I was right all along. Orchids are tropical plants. Ergo, they will thrive in environments that mimic the tropics. As in: lots and lots of tepid water dumped on them all at once, then long periods of heat, then you repeat the process.
So I did as advised. I moved my weakened limp leafed friend away from the direct light of the window (forest canopy, anyone????) I let her roots rise up from the pot and hang outside like spindly spider legs (orchids grow outside of the soil) and I watered the crap out of her every time the wood chips and bark beneath her felt dry.
Lo and freakin’ behold. One fine day, a lovely, bright green shoot arose from her stem. Up, up, up it crept. It took a full month for me to be sure that it wasn’t just another root.
But at last, this courageous and intrepid plant, sentenced to life in a completely non-tropical New England home, sent up a gorgeous stem filled with buds.
I rejoiced! There was prosecco. (OK, fine, there’s always prosecco here, but still. I was very happy). There was music and dancing and as the formerly limp green leaves of the orchid rose up again in good health, there was much cheering of fabulous gardening Nonni.
Every day the buds grew larger. Every day, the purple and green stem arched it’s way toward the sunlight.
Every day Nonni waited to rejoice at the fact that she had brought this nearly dead exotic plant back to life. Nonni waited with gleeful anticipation for the first glorious flower.
She kept the orchid close to the sunlight, but not bathed in it. She turned it a couple of times a day. She watered it thoroughly with room temperature water every few days when the winter heat dried it out.
Nonni eventually started to sing to her lovely tropical guest. “Oh, beautiful plant, so full of life!!!!” she trilled, hoping to nudge it into bloom. “Where the heck are you, anyway?”
Each day the buds got bigger. And fuller. And more alive with promise.
But. The winter days passed. And nothing happened.
As in. No. Thing.
Nonni was losing her grip.
And Hannaford’s had pretty little orchid plants in full bloom for only a few bucks. Nonni bought one.
OK. So maybe it wasn’t entirely fair to bring home a sweet young thing, but I was getting a little bit short of patience. I won’t say that I was hoping to shame my recovering orchid into bloom. But I did think a little competition might be helpful.
Here I sit, in front of my not-cold-not-dry-not-too-sunny orchid. I am still singing to her lovely full buds.
But I’m almost out of patience. I mean, come on already!
Give me all the toddlers in the world. I am not sure I have the patience to deal with shy orchid blossoms.
Git out here already, before I replace you with some early daffodils!