Bougainvillea

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

At my sister’s farm in Kenya, bougainvillea drapes over the fence, the stone wall and even the wash line. What fun it is to hang dripping wash amidst the brilliant hues of bougainvillea. The saturated color of the flowers remind me of lipstick displays that show every shade of red imaginable to the customer.

In February, when I was visiting Kenya while snow piled up on my driveway back home, I decided to pick a bouquet of all the different shades of bougainvillea blossoms. I filled a jar with them, set it on stool outside on the veranda and spent the afternoon sketching the exuberant bouquet.

The dogs were sleeping at my feet, content in the warm equatorial sun. I worked away enjoying the warm breezes, listening to the songs of birds at the birdbath. But then, I began to notice something happening. My bouquet had started to change its shape.

The stems were drooping. The flowers were wilting even though there was fresh, clean water in the jar. By the time I heard the bells of the cows returning home from foraging in the near-by forest, my bouquet was a shadow of its former, exuberant self.

Bougainvillea, it turns out, does not like to leave home. It likes to bloom where it is planted. And that is where I will enjoy it.

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A Garden’s Legacy