Monday, March 15, 2010

Gardenia - You are lovely!

Walking into the kitchen these past few mornings brings with it an extra special delight--the lovely fragrance of a gardenia blossoming. This isn't happening because I went out and bought a Glade air freshener. Rather, it's because my gardenia plants are actually blooming. Okay, so it's really only one bloom at the moment, but I do see more and more evidence of creamy-white petal tips peaking through their green envelopes with each day, making ready to open and send forth their fragrant greeting soon. However, it can't be too soon as far as I'm concerned!

Every year, it seems to be a goal of mine to grow a richly fragrant gardenia in the house and this year has been no exception. A visit to my local Home Depot always leads me into the the garden department where I can find a lovely little gardenia to take home and try. This year, a visit there produced two small standards with braided stems, each standing about 18 inches high. Who can resist a gardenia's waxy snow-white flowers resting among the beautiful dark green, shiny leaves of this shrubby houseplant? And when they bloom, their fragrance is truly intoxicating. Of course, I should add that it's hard for me to resist anything when I go into a nursery or garden department of any store. Gardenias do best in at least four hours of direct sunlight each day, so lately, I've been taking to putting these plants out on my front steps to soak up as much natural light as possible, especially during this dreary, rainy week we have been experiencing.

Gardenias also like it cool (ideally between 60 and 70 degrees) especially at night in order to bloom well. I could put them in the green house where there is already precious little space, but I would miss them and their delicious fragrance in my kitchen--they make me happy. So, I shall continue putting them on the front steps for a few hours each day in order that they receive their daily dose of natural light and fresh, cool springtime breezes. They also seem to prefer "wet feet" so keeping them well watered is another daily task for me to do in order to keep these little beauties happy.

Just like the Loreal commercials say, "They are worth it!" especially when gardenias are in bloom. In the language of flowers, the meaning of gardenias translates to "you are lovely." Someone may also send a gardenia to their "secret love" or to someone they may want to wish "good luck" to. When you get up close and personal with a gardenia, you can definitely understand why their meaning is such.

Gardenias are only hardy as outdoor shrubby plants to zone 8, so if you buy a gardenia and want it for your garden, put it in a pot for the spring into summer into early fall periods and then bring it indoors to a bright and sunny daytime window where it will stay cool at night. Of course, this is easy for me to say, but not so easy for me to do, since it seems I end up getting a new gardenia plant every spring as I've long forgotten the one from the previous year. (Hmmm--Where did I end up putting that anyway?) However, hope does "spring eternal" and I find myself, once more, happily surrounded by my "current-blooming" and 'ever-gracious" gardenias.

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