Small delights

Right at the cusp of a season full of overwhelming delights, I discovered a teeny-tiny one. It’s a very small thing but for me, it was kind of huge. Ever since I found out that Aspidistra elatior, the famously boring Victorian houseplant, also known as cast-iron plant, has a flower, I’ve wanted to see it for myself. But I was never sure of the timing, and most days poor Uncle is way off my radar. It hardly ever even wants watering, for goodness sake. So just try to imagine the moment when I went to evict a pair from their pots (to use the containers in a Christmas display), and noticed the flowers! Picture me, all alone in the greenhouse, doing a little dance.

The flowers, right at soil level and mostly such a dark purple they practically match the soil, are completely incognito. Also since they open so close to the surface, the flower cups were full of bits of soil and perlite. It’s really no wonder I’ve been missing them all these years. But they’re so pretty. And while you might think that I’d leave them be and find a different pair of pots, I wanted a closer look at their full structure. (Click on pictures for a closer look yourself.)

I understand that this particular delight might not provide the same kind of thrill for anyone else but if you happen to visit the greenhouse – or for that matter wherever your travels take you throughout the holidays, I offer you the challenge of finding at least one small surprise to be delighted by. Maybe it will be these very same flowers…