I do my quarterly pass by Marie’s side garden and find the bamboo and the camellia in big pots looking dead from lack of water. Everything else along that side is droopy but reviveable. I check the system. The gizmo is dead. Nothing sparks it back into life. I water all the pots with a hose. Why when plants are dying in front of your eyes don’t you see something is amiss? I have come to the limit and will give up on this garden.
It’s a beautiful day. The corpse flower is in bloom and there’s a line outside the conservatory. Ordinarily Moi-Meme would not wait in such a long line but I told Anita I’d meet her here for a viewing. The line moves at a leisurely pace but it moves, and there are Anita and Deb with Anita’s friend Judy, a docent who gives us an enthusiast’s tour of the place. The place is full of gorgeous plants but the the star, the object of the pilgrimage, is at the end of the wing. Amorphophallus titanum. Roughly translated that means “humongous dick-looking thing.” It’s in full magnificent bloom, although coyly half-closed. At the moment this magnificence looks more feminine than the name implies. Eye of the beholder, I suppose. I do love those lilac pleats. As for the smell, the thing that gives it an over-the-top notoriety, a death smell that attracts pollinating flies, there isn’t any. Deb said her refrigerator smells worse. The Big Dipper will stink it up when it’s ready. Maybe tonight.
One day a decade ago I came outside into my garden and was filled with dread, knowing I was about to find the rotting corpse of Cindy, the semi-feral cat whose chaotic life suited mine. Soon I realized the stench came from the Amorphophallus that Tom had given me, in bloom. A smaller variety that I planted and forgot it. There it was with a hooded bloom, bruise violet. Living its life.