It looks like my beloved geranium plant may live to see another year! You see, I have a black thumb. Even fake plants turn brown, lose leaves, and wilt in my presence. It’s a bummer, too, because I love plants and have a sincere interest in filling my home with them (well, with cat-safe ones anyway), but every plant I buy eventually dies, some within a month! My husband and I bought an areca palm, which we were told was the easiest thing to keep alive, and it died in record time. I thought we did everything right, too. It baffles me!
So, when my dad gave me his beloved geranium plant for safe-keeping, I knew that come hell or high water, I was going to keep that plant alive!
Why my geranium plant is irreplaceable…
What’s so special about my geranium, you ask? Well, I shall tell you… In the 1800’s, my father’s grandmother’s father built three cottages in County Cork, Ireland, on the waterfront of Cobh (pronounced Cove). He lived in them in the late 1800’s, and my father’s grandmother was born in one of the cottages. In 1905, they sold the cottage to a family called the Hills.
In the early 1990’s, my dad’s older sister was visiting Ireland and contacted the Hill family, who still lived in the cottage, almost a century later. They were able to visit with the Hills and see the cottages that my dad’s great-grandfather had built. In 1993, my parents went over to Ireland and they also visited with the Hills*. A few years later, my dad’s other sister went over for a visit. She spent some time with the Hills, doing some exploring of the area. They visited a cemetery where Mr. Hill helped my aunt and uncle clean off a tombstone where some of my relatives are buried. When my aunt was leaving Ireland, the Hills went outside their cottage and dug up a geranium and gave it to my aunt. Upon receiving the plant in the U.S., my aunt split it and gave a plant to my dad and their other sister.
It’s a miracle we’ve kept one alive…
My dad did a great job with his geranium plant. His plant was healthy, and he took cuttings and made two new plants, and gave one to my brother and one to me. I can hardly keep track of what has happened to our plant since then, but it goes something like this: My dad’s plant died. Mine was doing well so I gave it to my dad to keep inside his house during the winter (geraniums are not cat-safe), and it did great. He took a cutting from it and made a new plant for himself. I took my plant back in the summer and killed it. 😦 My dad made another cutting and gave me a new little plant. Then his died.
Keeping it alive…
It turns out, I am in possession of the only remaining living geranium plant from the Hills. The irony, considering my aforementioned black thumb. Needless to say, I go to great lengths to keep it alive. I’ve had ups and downs over the last couple of years. One year I started the summer with three plants, which was awesome! But I am now back down to my one mama plant. I took a cutting in late fall and rooted it, which worked great, but it died as soon as I potted it. Ugh. So at the end of last fall, I had my mama plant, plus one smaller plant that was barely hanging on. I put them in the garage over the winter and just prayed they would live.
Today, I brought the two plants from the garage into the house. The larger one looks pretty good. Since I didn’t cut it back before storing it, it’s pretty scrawny. Once it’s warm enough to keep it outdoors, I’ll have to cut it back. But it has lots of new growth and seems healthy.
And here they are…
The smaller plant, which was quite unhealthy when I brought it indoors for the winter, is barely holding on. Even so, it has a bright green leaf growing on it, so there is hope.
It’s a small world, after all… Shortly after returning to the U.S. from their trip to Ireland, my parents went out for a tapas dinner in Boston. Their waiter had a nice brogue, so they mentioned to him that they’d just been over to Cork. They got to chatting, and they were telling him how they’d visited the cottage in Cobh. He asked who they had visited. My parents said the Hills. The waiter says “Oh, the Hills! I know the Hills, they live in the waterfront cottage. Mrs. Hill sells ice cream out of her hallway in the summer to the beachgoers.” Umm, yeah, that’s her! Small world, eh?
What’s your best small world story?