Hip hip eastrum!

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I hardly know a plant as forgiving as my hippeastrum. I can treat it as meanly as I please, and yet it will still bear the most beautiful blooms year after year. It’s rather like a pet dog: never a trace of resentment, no matter how cross you are or how much it is ignored. If only all plants were this magnanimous!

After my hippeastrum has flowered, I cut back the stalk and continue to water and feed it, and on the first of June I put it outside into the garden along with all my other houseplants for their summer holiday.

This is where the bad times begin for this poor neglected plant. While my other house plants revel for four months in the warm sun and gentle rain, this poor hippeastrum has a miserable time. Beloved by slugs and snails, the first thing that happens is that all its leaves are instantly eaten off. It then spends a great deal of energy fruitlessly trying to grow new leaves only for them to be attacked as they emerge from the bulb, rather like Banksy’s Girl With Balloon being slowly shredded as it exited the frame. Therefore it has to go in the cold frame, where there are fewer molluscs around, though still enough to do  damage. The cold frame is not in such a sunny position, and it tends to get rather forgotten in there, especially on my watering rounds. By September, when it is supposed to go into its rest period, it is has already been as dry as dust for three months and has no leaves to speak of.

At the end of October, all the houseplants come indoors again. Except that last autumn I forgot to bring the hippeastrum indoors, as it was in the cold frame. I recall that I didn’t bring it indoors until mid-December (gasp). But did it hold a grudge, this tropical beauty? No! It immediately began producing its fresh green strappy leaves, followed a couple of months later by its fabulous bloom.

So my apologies for your rough treatment, dear hippeastrum, and three cheers for your beautiful blooms.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I do recommend visiting her page to see what she and many other garden bloggers across the world have put in a vase for today. Although this clay pot is most definitely not a vase, I am sure that Cathy will as forgiving as my hippeastrum and allow me to pretend that it is.

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A flash of winter light

I was trying to leave the house. I roved back and forth from room to room to recruit hat, gloves, rucksack, keys, coat, a large box of recycling to dispose of on my way up the street. Sometimes I have nightmares about not being able to leave the house, stuck in an endless gathering of things and keys and clothing. Anyway, on this day in my real, awake life, right at the point of triumph, just as I’d heaved the rucksack onto my back, the gloves onto my hands, the hat onto my head, the recycling into my arms, the keys in my hand, just as I thought that the wicked old universe had finally aligned its ambitions to mine, a sly slant of winter light flashed through the window and lit up an old metal jug that contained a spray of dried seedheads.

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Down went the recycling, the gloves, the keys, the ambition to leave on time. Winter light never stays long, and it never comes back to the same place again.

My camera was nearby (occasionally it pays to be untidy). Already the light started to fade. I took my pictures, and then watched the light disappear. In no time at all it had gone.

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I put down the camera. I retrieved keys, coat, gloves, recycling. I finally left the house.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I recommend visiting her page to see what she and many other garden bloggers across the globe have found to put in a vase today.

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