Channeling Betty

I am decidedly channeling my mother, Betty Bori Koerner.

The gifts that people give you take many forms, some of them are spiritual, some of them are physical, and some of them are within.

My mom was an inveterate plant snipper. She was embarrassing to be with whenever you would be in a place of botany or horticulture, or just plants. She would look around, snip off a bit of plant with her fingers, and put it in her purse. Places of note where she scared me to death doing that were Kew Gardens in England and the Chicago Botanic Garden. She almost got caught at the latter.

When asked about her ‘habit,’ she would always respond, “I am actually helping this plant grow better, removing this bit will force growth elsewhere.” I would remind her that if everyone had her ‘habit’ that the plants would be snipped to the ground level.

She had a green thumb.

My mom was far from perfect. She had a tough upbringing that bordered on abusive, and was actually abused at times. One time she went home from school for lunch in elementary school and upon preparation to return to school, her father asked her to go to the store for him. She refused since she wanted to get to school and he beat her and ended up knocking her head against the wall. I am guessing concussion. She went to school and I am also guessing that since she was from an immigrant family (she did not know how to speak English when she went to school), that she was treated differently and not properly attended to.

She was always somewhat cold and distant with me and my sister. I can rationalize that and give her a pass on that although it hurt. Materially and physically, she always provided for us very well, despite having the salary of a bookkeeper. She had to fight with her parents to stay in school and actually get a high school diploma and was the first girl in the family to do so.

She gave me a green thumb, probably taken from her farmer’s daughter mother. I channeled this the other day on a Stewie walk. I was at a nearby corner, the site of a McMansion, and saw the blooming bush I look forward to seeing every year. No one knows about it, not even the owners, of that I am sure. The fragrance of the white blooms is heavenly. I snipped several pieces and brought them home. I am trying to root it in several ways: one is in water with my bamboo plant, hoping the hormones in the water help, the other is in an old ‘Betty standard,’ stem stripped, treated with rooting hormone, placed in soil, and a jar over it to maintain humidity. My mother could take an inch of plant and make it grow, something I cannot do.

We shall see.

The Mock Orange bush is in the family of Hydrangeaceae. My cuttings are the single petal flower (I really prefer the double but the smell is the same) and there is also a double, Philadelphus Belle Etoile and Philadelphus Virginal are two varieties. As far as I know, they are not well known these days, are not in fashion, and are considered to be a part of ‘Granny’s garden.’ That is fine with me. The bush is native to North and Central America, Asia, and southeastern Europe. I want to make it a part of Papi’s garden and if this method does not work for me, I am going to purchase it, although it is a little tricky to find.

I hope it grows for me. If not, there are two bushes at the corner, seemingly unfound and unappreciated, and there is always next year for cuttings.

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
This entry was posted in Botanic Garden, Horticulture, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

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