Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Green Thumb?   Leave a comment

I just received some very high praise from a plant woman I respect and admire. She said I must have a very green thumb. She said that it is very, very unusual for a plant to have bloomed three times this season.
I thank Marina Whelan, and have provided a link to her wonderful website, The Amateur’s Digest which I learned about from Carol Williams, author of Bringing a Garden to Life, a book I highly recommend.

But it’s not me, after all,  it’s the plant. And beyond that, it’s the creative force streaming through her. Something larger than us both. I am a mostly attentive caretaker trying to learn the best way to be around the beautiful Blanca.

Still, I feel no particular talent toward the plants, but a love and enjoyment of them. I’m a lazy gardener especially by mid-July when it’s too hot to do much. I fear I neglected Blanca this hot dry summer by not watering her enough. Nevertheless she produced three wonderful cycles of blooms lasting several nights running.

She got me through a few rough patches…intense times this summer when the anticipation of her blooms kept me looking forward. Then the reward of her glorious opening, when time slowed down again and there was nothing else to do but sit and observe, wait a bit more, and be amazed.


Posted September 9, 2010 by Canio's in gardening, Uncategorized

Planning a party around an Epi   Leave a comment

What should the host or hostess wear when receiving guests to see the blooming of a beloved night blooming cereus? White, of course, something simple so as not to compete with the bride, as they say of mothers-in-law.  Alternately, you might wear black so as to slip into the nighttime landscape. Pastels are suitable; plaids should be avoided (sorry Kat). Never wear perfume or cologne when throwing an epi party. You want guests to sense the full effect of her rich and heady odor. Bug spray is optional; citronella a judgment call.

All eyes should be on the flower, so try to place her in the center of your gathering, perhaps on a small but sturdy accent table. Take care to protect her from party-goers who might peer too close after having too much bubbly. Gently request that guests not fondle the flower too aggressively.  They will likely be tempted to touch her silky petals. Again it’s a judgment call. Guests will be astounded by the sheer delicacy of these petals.  Some, if they are particularly thick-skinned,  may not feel anything at all.  Such is the ethereal nature of this exotic creature.
What to serve? Since open bloom time is later evening, decide whether to prepare a proper supper, or provide snacks, cheese and crackers, and dessert. Consider how many guests to invite, and how long you think they can tolerate watching a plant bloom. The snacks and dessert option allows guests to come and go with ease. Otherwise, the leisurely supper works best when you’ve taken care to invite those who  show some interest in events botanical.

In any case, lighter fare would be in keeping with the spirit of the night. Blanca is a feast for the eyes and nose, so keep the food a pleasant but not over-powering second. Champagne is a natural choice. Proseco is nice, too. Adventurous chefs might go in for regional specialties that recall Epi’s native home: serve Sri Lankan dishes or Mexican, or Central American. Fruit is always a good choice, grapes, berries, pineapple, melon.

Don’t forget to provide music for the grand opening. Maybe you have a sound track from a tropical rain forest? Perfect!  Otherwise consider something quiet and melodic.  Susan Graham’s La Belle Epoque: The Songs of Reynaldo Hahn is a favorite of mine when Blanca is blooming.

And it’s always fun to include a bit of flower lore to further intrigue your guests. More on that in another post.

We’ve had many gatherings over the past two years, and we’re always refining what we do. I’d love to hear your party suggestions, successes and missteps, too.

Posted September 9, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized

Tropical   1 comment

You can take the girl out of the tropics, but can you really take the tropics out of the girl? Today, the tropics, via Hurricane Earl have arrived in Sag Harbor and have showered Blanca, her lovely tassels swaying in the still gentle winds, with soaking rains. Perhaps she feels right at home. After blooming magnificently earlier this week (eight eye-popping flowers on Monday night; one more, the post-script on Tuesday, singularly gorgeous), Blanca is at rest. What perfect timing for this long soaking rain to bathe her, slake what must be a long deep thirst after three blooming cycles this hot, dry summer.

Posted September 3, 2010 by Canio's in environment, Uncategorized

First candle   Leave a comment

One of the derivations of “cereus,” from the Latin  is said to be “candle (from its shape), from cera, wax,” according to my beloved American Heritage Dictionary. So then, we may have the first candle lighting up tonight, a cool night when the sweet fragrance of Blanca may be most enjoyable. It appears the point-guard bud, the largest of the nine is nearing twelve inches, that magic length at which point, after dark, that bud will open for all.

Posted August 27, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized

Stop Time   Leave a comment

Robert’s watch has always run a bit fast, about five minutes. Lately it’s been expediting, running twelve hours, 24 ahead of where we are in this time zone, Eastern, daylight saving. I pull the stem out and stop its relentless race forward. I set the watch, a Perry Ellis with Roman numerals, black leather strap in a ceramic dish and wait a day until the time and date catch up, meridians matched. We recalibrate. That’s how Robert lived, worried there wasn’t enough time, running too fast, moving too far ahead of himself. So he died too soon, five minutes before midnight.

Blanca is another kind of time clock. The white face of her blooms mark a kind of midnight or noon of her day when meridians line up and the elaborate flowers punctuate a kind of urgency. Procreate. Pollinate. Propagate.

“The creative process is overcoming the doubt,” one young novelist recently said. Robert worked against the clock, rising early before his day job to write chapters of DeKooning’s Bicycle. A year after it was published, he died.  Yet it’s one way he’s still around. His words on the page. His voice still audible.

I’ve not yet seen the fruits of the night-bloomer. Apparently they are edible but take almost a year to ripen! Such a rare fruit must taste very sweet, yet I read they can sometimes taste bitter. All that waiting.  They are said to be reddish or yellow, or even green. Elusive flesh.

Still Blanca keeps trying. Perhaps one day a seed will set,  an “egg” will take within her ovary. And once that fruit begins to swell, she will begin to die. Her work completed.

Posted August 23, 2010 by Canio's in about time, on writing, Uncategorized

Only White   Leave a comment

One of the effects of living with Blanca these several years and of only lately seeing her bloom, is that my visual color preference has simplified.  I find  white flowers mesmerizing. I have developed a devotion to them and hope one day to create a small white garden. Who needs color when white contains them all? Color  seems excessive, over-much, as if the natural harmony of all-colors has tilted out of balance. There are varieties of white, of course.  The deep purity and creamy richness of the gardenia is incomparable. A priest friend recently explained these are “St. Anthony’s flowers” associated with the saint of lost causes, origin unknown. So be it. We lose things in the depths of white, we suffer snow-blindness, and squint in white summer sunshine at noon when it’s just too bright to see. The simplicity of the lily-of-the-valley, Emily Dickinson’s white cotton dress; the extravagance of the Casablanca, even the elegance of an egret in golden-green marsh grass show us white is Everything. I’m fond of an old jasmine vine, its fragrant white whirls the perfect complement to its shiny dark green leaves. A friend gave me seeds of  white campion.  It’s classic contrast of simple white with silvery leaves seems to harken back to antiquity.  The whiteness of our night bloomer is a sheer white, some petals translucent, silken, delicate. One gets lost looking deeply within. One thereby enters eternity. For just  one night.

Posted July 1, 2010 by Canio's in Uncategorized