Friends, Flowers and Foliage

I spent a couple of happy hours today in the company of good friends. My friend Cynthia, another result of time spent on the AOL Gardening Boards some years back, and I headed out to southwest Houston to meet up with our "Mom*", Jan, also a friend made through AOL. We've had some wonderful times together over the years and taken some memorable trips together ... but not enough of them in the last few years. In 2008 Jan was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. Her recovery was fraught with difficulty and she's not been up to doing any trips.

Early this year, the symptoms that had her in and out of the ER were finally correctly diagnosed and open heart surgery was necessary. She's also had a rough recovery from that and this is the first time we've seen her this year. She was in town for her granddaughter's graduation festivities, so on her way out, she and her wonderful husband Ron stopped to meet us at Houston Garden Center. Since I have an HGC near me, I bought no plants but was pleased to find Consan Triple Action 20, which I've been needing to clean the fountain out front. Once we were done, we trekked out to Caldwell's Nursery in Rosenberg, hoping to find some botanical treasures. Unfortunately, their hours have changed and the gates were closed. So we said our goodbyes and agreed that Cynthia and I will find a way to visit Jan in Corpus Christi in the next couple of months.

Since we were in the area anyway, Cynthia and I headed over to Enchanted Forest to see what we could find there. It was their Tropicals Festival so while we shopped, we enjoyed the sounds of a steel band and admired some absolutely gorgeous tropicals. Our favorite was this Sun Parasols Mandevilla, Stars and Stripes. Look at that bloom!

Since today was Foliage FollowUp for Garden Bloggers, I celebrated by buying a sun Coleus, Indian Summer, pictured at top and above. Isn't it gorgeous? I suspect I'll be buying a lot more Coleus and other heat lovers soon, to fill in the bare spots out front this summer. It's already too warm to plant most shrubs and perennials ... well, I could do it but the level of care required to keep them alive and thriving in the summer heat is more than I want to take on! In addition to the Coleus, I came home with some Mussaenda luteola (Summer Poinsettia) and white Turnera alnifolia (Fluttermills). I also found a Rangoon Creeper as a farewell present for my neighbors, who have moved to the country and put their house here in Katy on the market.

As I was strolling the back path when I got home that afternoon, I was delighted to discover that one Calliandra (Fairy Duster) is growing like gangbusters after seemingly having succumbed to the cold temperatures this winter. I'll leave you with that image and say that it reminds me of Jan, who's been through some tough times and is on her way back to better days!

*Oh, yeah, and that Mom thing? On our first trip together, after having gone separate ways in one part of Butchart Gardens, we came face to face and I greeted her with "Mom! At last I've found you! After all these years! Why did you do it, Mom? Why did you give me up for adoption?" We embraced as she exclaimed "I didn't think I had any choice ... I was young ... can you ever forgive me?" Yes, there were other people in the area, people unconnected with us who had no idea what to make of this. She's been Mom to Cynthia, our friend Emily and me ever since. None of us in any way resemble each other, which makes it even more fun to mess with unsuspecting victims ... er, shopkeepers, waiters, whoever. Yep, if we come your way, be afraid. Be very afraid.