A Rose by Another Name : 90 second read by Farriz Mashudi 18/01/2021
My desert rose plant may as well be the crystalline kind compressed from rock-hard sand for all the flowering it wasn’t doing.
Is it over-watering if the soil is hard and all the moisture I’m pouring so earnestly runs straight through? No, there’s no leaf-rot on the foliage, I’ve checked … Its leaves aren’t yellowing (anymore) and aren’t dropping now that it’s out from under the porch. With the less shade, does it still want more sun?
Mocking me, I chance upon a pair with an abundance of flowers framed by manifold clusters of shiny paddle-shaped leaves. Standing guard and doing their house proud, they’re stunning in a giddy fuchsia and the most intense green. (I’m meant to collect my child from a playdate, but have completely forgotten now why I’m here). —Bonsai only in shape, these two are giants! It’s me who’s stumped.
Camel dung, horse manure pellets, organic drops … I’m still searching for the right plant food. Seems everyone’s got a special formula their babies like. What more can I do?
Next stop, on our way home, at my friend V’s: with their fat bulbous roots, hers, I have to say, are even more amazing. There must be a secret to this. She smiles, knowingly.
“Come,” she calls, “But be quiet.” Her gardener speaks no English, V adds, as if to make a point.
Only allowed to watch, at first, I’m mystified, then enthralled. Seems there is a magic going on. —Smiling enchantingly, singing softly at times, never raising his voice, he was tenderly chatting … with the plants. But also caressing and patting, blowing sweet nothings, even kissing them.
“Why not?” V says. “You’ve tried everything else.”
She was right. My painfully suffering Adenium at home all those years ago couldn’t get much worse— and happily, soon showed signs of appreciating the cheering up.