My Priceless Geranium

It looks like my beloved geranium plant may live to see another year! You see, I have a black thumb. Even fake plants turn brown, lose leaves, and wilt in my presence. It’s a bummer, too, because I love plants and have a sincere interest in filling my home with them (well, with cat-safe ones anyway), but every plant I buy eventually dies, some within a month! My husband and I bought an areca palm, which we were told was the easiest thing to keep alive, and it died in record time. I thought we did everything right, too. It baffles me!

So, when my dad gave me his beloved geranium plant for safe-keeping, I knew that come hell or high water, I was going to keep that plant alive!

Why my geranium plant is irreplaceable…

What’s so special about my geranium, you ask? Well, I shall tell you… In the 1800’s, my father’s grandmother’s father built three cottages in County Cork, Ireland, on the waterfront of Cobh (pronounced Cove). He lived in them in the late 1800’s, and my father’s grandmother was born in one of the cottages. In 1905, they sold the cottage to a family called the Hills.

In the early 1990’s, my dad’s older sister was visiting Ireland and contacted the Hill family, who still lived in the cottage, almost a century later. They were able to visit with the Hills and see the cottages that my dad’s great-grandfather had built. In 1993, my parents went over to Ireland and they also visited with the Hills*. A few years later, my dad’s other sister went over for a visit. She spent some time with the Hills, doing some exploring of the area. They visited a cemetery where Mr. Hill helped my aunt and uncle clean off a tombstone where some of my relatives are buried. When my aunt was leaving Ireland, the Hills went outside their cottage and dug up a geranium and gave it to my aunt. Upon receiving the plant in the U.S., my aunt split it and gave a plant to my dad and their other sister.

It’s a miracle we’ve kept one alive…

My dad did a great job with his geranium plant. His plant was healthy, and he took cuttings and made two new plants, and gave one to my brother and one to me. I can hardly keep track of what has happened to our plant since then, but it goes something like this: My dad’s plant died. Mine was doing well so I gave it to my dad to keep inside his house during the winter (geraniums are not cat-safe), and it did great. He took a cutting from it and made a new plant for himself. I took my plant back in the summer and killed it. 😦 My dad made another cutting and gave me a new little plant. Then his died.

Keeping it alive…

It turns out, I am in possession of the only remaining living geranium plant from the Hills. The irony, considering my aforementioned black thumb. Needless to say, I go to great lengths to keep it alive. I’ve had ups and downs over the last couple of years. One year I started the summer with three plants, which was awesome! But I am now back down to my one mama plant. I took a cutting in late fall and rooted it, which worked great, but it died as soon as I potted it. Ugh. So at the end of last fall, I had my mama plant, plus one smaller plant that was barely hanging on. I put them in the garage over the winter and just prayed they would live.

Today, I brought the two plants from the garage into the house. The larger one looks pretty good. Since I didn’t cut it back before storing it, it’s pretty scrawny. Once it’s warm enough to keep it outdoors, I’ll have to cut it back. But it has lots of new growth and seems healthy.

And here they are…

The smaller plant, which was quite unhealthy when I brought it indoors for the winter, is barely holding on. Even so, it has a bright green leaf growing on it, so there is hope.

So sad...

I'm not dead yet!

It’s a small world, after all… Shortly after returning to the U.S. from their trip to Ireland, my parents went out for a tapas dinner in Boston. Their waiter had a nice brogue, so they mentioned to him that they’d just been over to Cork. They got to chatting, and they were telling him how they’d visited the cottage in Cobh. He asked who they had visited. My parents said the Hills. The waiter says “Oh, the Hills! I know the Hills, they live in the waterfront cottage. Mrs. Hill sells ice cream out of her hallway in the summer to the beachgoers.” Umm, yeah, that’s her! Small world, eh?

What’s your best small world story?

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18 Responses to My Priceless Geranium

  1. It's not my story, but my dad and grandfather went to Germany last summer and were at a restaurant in the town that my grandfather's grandparents were from, and they started chatting up a guy that turned out to be my grandfather's cousin! So crazy!

  2. I LOVE small world stories! One time in Australia my roommate and I met a Canadian girl who randomly knew my roommates boyfriend. After talking for a while we realized she had slept over on our couch once – and was the mystery girl who left a mascara smudge on it! CRAZY!!

  3. That is such a great story! I'm actually going to Cork next month, i heard it's beautiful 🙂

  4. Kristina says:

    I want to go there, such a great story!

  5. Hannah says:

    Well done to you! I'm no good at plants-keeping either. I once kept a bonsai alive for two years… that was a proud moment for me, until it died.

  6. merf says:

    I'm so jealous. Have a great time!

  7. merf says:

    Haha, I hope you called her out on improper makeup removal techniques!

  8. merf says:

    Love when that happens!

  9. merf says:

    We kept a bonsai alive for about a year then it got some scale or mite or something and died. If we'd known better, we could have identified and treated it in time, but we didn't. 😦

  10. merf says:

    Me, too!

  11. What a beautiful story! And it's amazing how closely your geranium is tied to your family history! We have geraniums in the courtyard here, and until now they've survived every winter, so I know they're tough, but I didn't know they were *that* tough!

    A small world story I can share is that, during my first studies (cultural studies, in a small northern German town called Lüneburg), I became very good friends with a girl from two the year above myself. Later, it turned out that her boyfriend was the son of my mom's best schooltime friend. It was so funny to learn that! (By now, they've split up, though, and he's married to somebody else and has a little daughter. But this is how life goes.)

  12. aww, love this story! My husband and I never knew each other as kids, but we grew up only about 20 minutes away from each other. We had mutual friends & my hubbs-to-be was even friends with some of my brothers' best friends as a kid so they sometimes ran into each other. We didn't meet in our hometown though. We met when I was 18, he was 20, 6 hours away from home in a very random tiny city that we both just happened to move to. So crazy to find out we were from the same place & had overlapping groups of friends for literally our entire lives!

  13. merf says:

    I hear ya.

  14. merf says:

    How cute! My husband and I lived in the same apartment complex for a year at school but met here in DC many years later!

  15. merf says:

    It is so funny to find those connections!

  16. ahh i cannnot wait to start my little veggie garden. Your little geranium screams “I'm aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!” hehe! and I LOVE a good small world story 😉

    ohmygosh so im so excited you're moving on up to solids! how are you feeling? so much better? did you end up with an omelette?


  17. merf says:

    I didn't make the omelette because the only thing I had to put in it was spinach. Gonna save that one for another day! 🙂

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