Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter boarder

I swiped a cutting of this plant from a neighbor last fall (over a year ago). It was late October or early November, and I was out trolling for last-minute snippings of tender annuals to coddle indoors over the long winter. In the planter, the original plant (or "mother plant," as we gardeners call it) had bloomed delightfully all summer and fall, and I'd admired it enough to covet one. One night, when a particularly bitter cold snap was forecast and the neighbor had decided (or neglected) to drag in (or cover) his plantings, I knew it was now or never. I think I actually pinched two cuttings. Stuck them in water on the kitchen windowsill and hoped for the best.

They took months to root. I hadn't expected such a delay, but maybe the cold had already shut down some survival mechanism; I don't know. In fact, only one cutting survived. I coddled it along and put it outside in a small pot on the patio table when spring rolled around. It slowly grew, but never bloomed. In late summer, I repotted it. Still no blooms. I brought it inside anyway in the fall and gave it half a shelf in the sunny window of the laundry room, where it continued to grow and sprawl and, finally, this winter, to bloom.

I'd tell you what it is, but I can't remember its name. I've thumbed through my mental catalog of blue-flowering annuals (Browallia? Streptocarpus?), but nothing sounds right. For now, it remains a gorgeous stranger.

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