My Sweet Desert Rose

“Desert Rose”

Would it be weird to have an obituary for a house plant? I mean people of course, and pets, but a house plant? Hell, I don't care, I mourn the loss of my favorite house plant. She didn't have a name though I know she was a "she" because she was just so pretty. Pretty in pink. Here's her story:

About ten years ago we were in Lowe's Garden Center in the fall, and I came across a shelf of plants that sadly did not sell. Rather like the "Land of Misfit Toys" from "Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer" claymation presentation. There on the middle shelf was a sad looking gal, all trunk and only a single green leave. Just one. Lots of little branches, but only one leaf. It was so sad looking...but hopeful. I have always been one to root for the underdog, so I checked the price, I think it was $1.50 or something like that. The pot was a cheap plastic one, but I liked the spirit she displayed and took her home.

Over the next few weeks I got her a bigger ceramic pot, fresh topsoil, and watered her and fertilized her, and lo and behold she popped out another leaf. Then another and another. I put her in the eat-in kitchen by the sliding glass door so she could get some sun and she really came back to life, her gray lumpy trunk resplendent with shiny green leaves.

Come summer, she got a place of honor on the back deck where she got lots of sun. One day I looked and there was a little pink flower, pink and white. That summer she had several flowers. She was moody and fragile. When cold weather came around, I moved her indoors, and she would shake, and shudder, and ALL her leaves would fall off. Then green shoots appeared and new shiny green leaves popped out for the winter days. Come spring, back outside....many of her leaves would fall again, only to return with green shoots followed by shiny leaves and more flowers. She didn't much like change, but she stuck with me just like I stuck with her. My mom was to identify it for me: "Desert Rose." A member of the cactus family. No mean old thorns, just a bulky trunk with delicate branches with leaves aplenty and flowers every summer.

This routine went on for years, the cycle of losing and reviving leaves and glorious flowers. Until this summer. On the back deck she got plenty of sun...but we were on the road and I neglected to dump the water out of her bottom tray and the rain just kept on coming. She LOST leaves in the summer, a first. Then this fall when she moved inside, she lost all her leaves....and nothing returned. She was gone. She is still there in her spot by the sliding glass door, but she is no longer alive. And I mourn her passing.


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