Normally this time of year I’ve pretty much abandoned my outside garden. Yes, you can still garden in California this time of year. But is does get a bit cold and windy and the bones are a bit creaky. Staying inside where it is nice and warm seems much more appealing (even the dog agrees). Add to that the “to do” list for the holiday season and my garden pretty much gets neglected. It doesn’t mean, however, that I stop thinking about plants. Each time this year I start to indulge my desire for a new houseplant (or type of houseplant). Now, there is a good chance that once spring rolls around this poor plant will understand what it means to feel a bit of neglect, but for the next two months it will get more than enough loving care.
Recently I’ve started obsessing about gesneriads. (According to The Gesneriad Society you can pronounce it either “guessNARE-ee-ad” or “jez-NARE-ee-ad”). It has been years since I’ve had so much as an African violet and suddenly I’m fawning over Gloxinias, Lipstick Plants, and Flame Violets. Perhaps I’ve already grown tired of the warm red and orange that has blanketed the hillside of trees. Perhaps I need a bit of vibrant spring color. Gesneriads certainly fit the bill when it comes to color. Lush purple stretocarpus (oddly the spell check suggestion for streptocarpus is stretchmarks), bright pink african violets and deep velvety red gloxinias abound on Flickr. In fact I’ve been searching for photostreams of these prolific bloomers and falling asleep to their slideshows. No wonders visions of sugar plum purples are dancing through my head.
But it is more than that. There seems to be a freshness and nostalgia all at the same time about these fuzzy leaved plants. They remind me of a time of terrariums, cacti and tillandsias. They remind me of when I first became obsessed with all things plants. When I took the time to mist them daily and I brushed dust off their leaves with a soft paint brush. Most gesneriads are small and well behaved. I’ve always had great luck in placing them near an East facing window. Self-watering pots making hydration much easier, but I have succeeded with the soil touch test as well. Now it seems my biggest problem will simply be to choose.