Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Say Hello to the Savannah Plant

My office plant is 21 years old.  I know this because it is the same age as my oldest daughter Savannah, with whom it shares a name.  My daughter had the name first of course, and I didn't name the plant until a few months later.

When my wife had our first child, I did not want to bring flowers to her room because at the time I was worried about her allergies.  Instead I brought a baby plant in a very small container.  The drive home with the human baby in the back of the car was nerve racking to me and like first time fathers, I was a bit overprotective.

Not so with the plant.  It came home with us along with the balloons and flowers and other well wishing items in a box or possibly even in the trunk of the car.  It sat in our home for a while before I eventually took it with me to my office in Pioneer Square, Seattle.  There is sat by my desk, in many ways ignored.  It started to grow its trunk, a spindly little thing.  Then one day I came back from lunch and found it doubled over, unable to stand up due to dehydration.

I was going to toss it.  I had more pressing concerns like running a company then worrying about being an abusive plant owner.  Erin, one of the project managers would occasionally tsk tsk me and water it, but that was about the only care it got.

So I was about to chuck it when the irrational me stopped me.  "This is the plant you brought your wife when you had your first born child!  This is "The Savannah Plant!".

Don't name your plants.

Someone in the office had gone for Chinese food and had brought back some chopsticks.  I took a string, propped up the plant and tied the chopsticks to the trunk to stabilize it.  Then I watered it thoroughly.  I was impressed with how after only a couple of days of care it began to show some strength. 

I kept that plant with me and it began to grow taller than I expected it.  For goodness sake it started to look more like a tree.  The closest thing I have found to identifying it is a ponytail palm.  Pretty soon it was about three feet tall and took up a bit of space in my office.  I had to change the container to a bigger more accommodating size twice over.

Then I took it back home with me when the company was sold and I moved on.  I placed it in my home office where it continued to grow, but with an uneven amount of sun and a lot of bulk.

I would keep turning it as it grew toward the window light, and it lost many of the lower branches.  I knew I couldn't plant it outside but it was looking pathetic with only a few palm leaves on the top.  It had reached around seven feet in height.  The final straw came when someone noticed the spiders making there home in the few branches at the top and even in the trunk below.

That Fall, around ten years ago I lost the argument with myself.  Savannah plant or not, it had to go.  Like ripping off a band aid, I jumped from my desk and grabbed it by the trunk (avoiding the spiders).  I roughly carried it out with me out through the back yard.  I swung it hard enough to dislodge the current pot it resided in, I broke it in half and chucked it onto the pile of yard waste, trimmings and broken tree branches that would wait until Spring before being hauled off.

I stayed away from the bone yard by the side of the house that Winter, and it wasn't until Spring that I borrowed the truck to haul the materials away.

When I turned the corner of the house with the intent of cleaning out the side yard I had to stop and look for a few minutes.  The broken trunk of the tree remained bare, but from the root ball the plant had continued to grow.  It looked a bit like it did when I first brought it to the hospital on Oct 15th, 1993.

I went into the garage and found a suitable pot for it's size.  I replanted it and took it to my first office at the University of Washington Tacoma.  It has had two transplants since then.

It is back to four feet tall and probably needs a new pot.

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