Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that make me Happy - Part 3

Widow's Tears (Achimenes)

These flowers leave me speechless. They date back to the early 1900’s, and belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Mae Gulley. My mom, who is 82, remembers them in flower pots and some in hanging baskets on the big long front porch (and the screened in back porch) of the old white farmhouse where she was raised in southeast Oklahoma. When my grandmother, Jodie Elizabeth Ingram, went to be with Jesus in 1968, and my parents were cleaning out the old house to sell it, my Dad found one dried up old flower pot stuck behind a door like a door stop, in the dining room. Dad, a horticulture major at Oklahoma A & M (now OSU) thought he knew what they were, and decided to take them home and give it a try…


Every spring and summer they bloom profusely. Every winter they die back and spend the cold weather months reproducing in the garage. So every spring, we have to re-pot them, and there are more and more baskets to give away. My family has probably given away hundreds of baskets of Widows Tears to friends throughout the years.

These flowers are a part of our lives now. When our kids were each about seven months old, I dressed them up in the same little yellow Feltman Brothers bubble, and took a picture of them in the same little children's rocking chair at my parents house, with the same big pot of widows tears growing in the background. One Christmas my sweet husband went to a lot of creative trouble, found the photos, and had them framed together for the best present ever.

My friend, Marjorie, said she remembers these growing wild in her native Jamaica, so I gave her a hanging basket last year. No one else I know has ever seen them.

My widow’s tears never look as good as Dad’s did, being that he not only had a green thumb, but a green arm as well. But this was the best year ever for them. Aren’t they amazing?


Joy said...

So this is the same plant from your grandmother's house or cuttings. What a treasure.
I'm just amazed. It is beautiful.

Such a great story behind it.

P.S. What a sweet gift Duane thought of. I know you love those pictures all framed together.

becky marshall said...

Well, it technically is the same plant. It grows from little tiny pinecone looking bulbs or "corms". The corms multiply during the winter when they are dormant, so there are many more in the pot every spring and it is easy to seperate them and make more pots/hanging baskets. It's pretty remarkable.

If you are a "plant person" i would love to give you a basket. People who aren't "plant people" usually let them die after one season, because they don't get the whole dormant and reproducing thing.