Thursday, February 8, 2007
Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory - Ft. Wayne, IN
I have seen it. I have smelled it.
The Amorphophallus rivieri was in bloom at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Gardens in Ft. Wayne, for only the second time in twenty years. Today, the temperatures reached a balmy 17°, so Mom and I drove to The City to see it. And smell it.
The day didn't start off very well on my end. All in a matter of about fifteen minutes, I tried to get the dog into the garage (she didn't wanna), tried to find either Max or Boo who were both hiding somewhere under a bed or sofa to put one of them out (because having them both in the house for very long is a very bad idea - I'm not sure who doesn't like whom), bumped up against the dirty garbage can and got my freshly-laundered off-white coat more 'off' than white, got stuck in the driveway, tried to shovel myself out and in the process accidentally hit the corner of the snow shovel on the front bumper of The Beetle and put a big scratch in it, tried to call my mom to let her know I was going to be late and she wasn't answering either of her phones, and when I went back in the house, the dog went in, too. She's not allowed in there, because she weighs 65 pounds and is like a bull in a china shop and this morning she had muddy paws. I finally got her out of the house, tried to shovel myself out again and realized there was too much snow packed up under The Beetle. I needed a push to get out and of course the neighbors weren't home, so I had to call Romie at work. By this time, I was so frustrated that I don't know if that water falling down the front of my face was from the cold or if they were real tears. Whatever it was, it had now messed up my makeup. And Romie laughed at me.
But he did come home and got me out by shoving The Beetle from behind with his car and I was on my way. God, I love this man.
We ate lunch at Club Soda - Mom's first visit there. The decor and ambience makes you feel like you're in New York and not the rural midwest. We ate in the loft and it was obvious that several business lunches were going on and I was definitely dressed in the wrong color. I was wearing color. Shades of black, gray, and blue were the couleurs du jour and I had on red. But we were not about business today, and by the time we left, I felt right at home because they were decorating for Valentine's Day. Mom had to be happy just having cream of broccoli soup because she still has one week left of her all-liquid diet, due to her surgery last week. I had French onion soup and spinach salad. Yummy.
We drove over to the conservatory and from the moment we stepped in the front door, we left winter behind us. The organic aroma of leaves and soil had me almost salivating. We took a quick walk through The Tulip Tree gift shop, where I spied a mature jade plant that didn't have a bad anything on it. Mom talked me into buying it, not that I needed much convincing. It was relatively inexpensive, as are all the nice healthy plants for sale there. I picked up a beautiful Rex begonia and English primrose, too. We both passed up the nice Ponytail palms that were selling for a dollar each and later regretted it.
On to the stinky plant. We had to ask for directions to it, even after several people said, "Just follow your nose." We didn't actually smell it until we were about six feet away, and then the fishy odor was very obvious. It wasn't as offensive as I'd expected, but I wouldn't want it blooming in my house, either. My cat's breath smells similar. We can now say we have been there and done that, a thing which was quite satisfying to Mom, since she is sure she won't be around to see it the next time it blooms. Whatever.
We took a look around at the other flowerage (yes, it's a word; I looked it up). The Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia) was clothed in all its peachy loveliness and we had us a few up-close sniffs of that. Mmmmmm. Smells like Florida. The Glory Bower (Clerodendrum) and many orchids were also blooming. I fell in love with a peachy-rose orchid that I'm not sure of its name, but that's a good thing, because I'd want to try to find it and buy it, even though I don't have the best of luck with orchids. I'll just visit the conservatory whenever I need an orchid fix.
We ran into a nice young man named Zach, who works there and I remembered that I'd spoken with him last October, when my friend Kat and I were enjoying the rainforest. He is into bonsai culture and is trying to get bonsai displayed at the conservatory. It seems a no-brainer to me, especially when they've got someone who is passionate about them and experienced working right there. He's got the mayor interested, so maybe it will happen one of these days.
The main room had oodles of azaleas, cyclamen and primroses of various colors planted along every pathway and most of the pathways had been turned into a nine-hole miniature golf course! We were compelled to play a round, just so we could say we played golf in February. Mom, who is an avid golfer on the full-size course, tried to inflict regular golf rules on me, but I wouldn't have it. Still, she was the winner by a stroke, and had a hole-in-one on the second hole. That was good for a free pass to the conservatory, but we forgot to pick it up at the desk when we were finished. We get in free because of our membership in the American Horticulture Society, but someone else could have used it.
We went back to the gift shop and gathered our purchases. We dropped mine off at home, where I was met by Romie rolling his eyes at me once again, when he saw I had bought more plants. He was sure we had no place whatsoever to put them, but plants are like Jell-O®. There's always room.
The day ended with the Evergreen Garden Club's meeting at Wassenberg Art Center, where a representative of Galbraith's Nursery in Ft. Wayne spoke about roses. I learned a few things, mostly good, but one downer - he said due to the extreme temperatures we have experienced this winter, we are certain to lose bushes, trees, and plants. Mom says with a smile, "We can buy more plants!" See, there's always a silver lining...