November 3, 2018
In our back hedgerow, flanking a run of boxwoods, are twinned ornamental pots. Were I to tell you how many plants I have failed to grow in them, well… So the other day, having ripped out the latest disheveled remnants, I had an idea. I have these two statues, you see, replicas of creatures. So I made plinths of concrete paving stones and gave the squirrel and the cat a new purpose in life. I think they look rather fetching.
Fetching, but I began to think they might want softening around the margins. With something easy care, and tough. See, there I go again with the plants! The triumph of hope over experience. So I commenced a ramble around the backyard, open to inspiration. What should I spy growing where it’s grown for twenty years between a concrete slab and the back of the house but an airplane plant? How many times I’ve pulled it up, for the sake of neatness. It always comes creeping cautiously back. And here it is again. So I divided it and sprigged it around the statues. But there wasn’t enough. So I eased over to the backyard next door. For thirty years I’ve had visiting rights there, and I feel that the owners, now of blessed memory, are keeping the invitation open. If I have an airplane plant volunteer, maybe they do, too. Why yes, they do! Or, they did. Not the same variety as mine, but I made it work. Or I hope I have. Time will tell.
So then I went inside and for the sake of science looked up airplane plant and found that its Latin name is Chorophytum comosum. “Chloro” made me think of my chemical engineer friend, of blessed memory, who wanted people to be more aware of the miracle of green. But he didn’t quite know how. Perhaps I’ve helped.
And then I found that another common name for airplane plant is St. Bernard’s lily. So I looked up the good saint and found that one of the poems he wrote during his doctor of the church work in 12thcentury France lives on. Perhaps you know it:
“Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills the breast; but sweeter still thy face to see, and in thy presence rest.”
Perhaps my new yard art is bringing St. Bernard a smile. And the One he describes as “hope of every contrite heart, the joy of all the meek”? Perhaps he too likes my project. He who loved creatures and green things and people. Be that as it may, the thought fills my breast with sweetness. May it do likewise for you.