Plant Parenthood: Rescue and rehabilitation

August 2021

Soon after we moved back in July of 2021, I’d been slowly taking over some of the plants from Oneal’s Dad’s garden. He was terribly amused when I asked if I could get some of the plants that were in the garden, if I could repot them, maybe bring some life back into them.

I think it made him happy when one of the philodendrons, a Green Emerald, I repotted came back to the lanai happy and healthy, lush and vibrant. I put it in a nice big white pot, and we put it on the ledge in the lanai.

September 2021

Now it’s so tall and lush that I needed to put a stick in the soil so that the plant wouldn’t topple over. It seems like every day I find new leaves sprouting, and it doesn’t even need fertilizer.

Another plant of Dad’s, also a philodendron, looked so sad when I first rescued it. But I put it in a new pot with new soil, and now it’s climbing!

Since Dad’s strokes late last year, he hadn’t been able to take care of his garden, and I’m sure that made him sad. We didn’t have the energy to look after them while he was sick, while he was bedridden, and even more so after he passed away. Since December, we’d been doing a lot of cleaning, fixing, throwing away stuff, having other stuff repaired. It’s been tough and tiring, and it’s emotionally draining.

It was only a few weeks ago that I found the energy to go through his plants, to see what could be saved, to move them around or repot.

Perhaps one of the biggest struggles was that I didn’t know what most of them were. I knew Dad had a lot of palms and spider plants. A lot of the palms were so big that I couldn’t really do anything except prune the dead leaves off, and water the ones that survived neglect. Some of the spider plants died. A few I gave away to friends, as I knew I couldn’t possibly take care of everything myself. It took me a while to figure everything out.

Dad’s bougainvillea plants were so dry. Their thorny stems stabbed me every time I walked past them, and I was sorely tempted to give up on them. But after a week or two of diligent daily watering, I noticed new leaves on one, and soon, bright pink flowers! Hopefully the other two catch up soon.

One of the biggest surprises was the aglaonema moonlight bay. I used to joke with Dad that it looked like pechay, and I didn’t really pay attention to it. A few weeks back, I finally took a closer look, and I realized they were aglaonema, similar to the aglao red lipstick I adore. I took them from their spot in the garden, checked on them, and moved them around. I am happy to report that I’ve seen new leaves sprouting here and there. 

One of the most beautiful plants in Dad’s garden is the elephant ear. It looks like those plants you see in fancy resorts and hotels, as it grows giant leaves.

I didn’t really bother looking it up until my friend MR saw them and said, “Ang ganda! Mahal yan di ba?” I looked it up, and now I’m trying to take better care of it.

There’s much more: the plants I repotted, the ones I relocated, the ones I couldn’t save. There’s the regular struggle of watering all the plants outside the house, and sweeping the dead leaves, and sawing off dead branches before they fall and hurt someone or scratch a neighbor’s car. There’s the forest on the balcony, and the calamansi tree in the garden.

I’ve come to spend weekends and holidays in the garden, my feet and hands covered in soil. Lucas helps by watering the plants. Oneal helps with adding holes to plastic bottles, and with moving around heavy terracotta pots. I hope it cheers Dad to see us working in his garden and taking care of his plants.

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