HEIRLOOM GARDENER

Readers share tales of treasured family plants.

Send Us Your Stories We’re looking for readers’ stories about special plants passed down and shared for generations. We pay $25 for each story we publish and $25 for each photo we use. Please send your story and high-resolution photos, if available, to Letters@HeirloomGardener.com for a chance to be included in a future issue.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS

This was a part of my husband’s late grandmother’s collection. Grandma and her family moved cactus for Grandma. In 1943, the family moved to Montana. Grandma’s plants sat on a board in the back seat of a ‘37 Chevy, the cactus among them. Apparently, it survived tipping over several times on the trip to Montana! They moved again in 1947 back to the Wyoming ranch house, where she and her cactus lived until she passed. The ’s home was her sunroom. She had several Thanksgiving and Christmas cactuses hanging there, and they were always a welcome sight when guests entered her home through this cheery room. When she passed away, I received one of her beloved plants. I didn’t have much of a green thumb in the mid-‘90s, but I managed to keep it alive. My husband and I traveled for his job from 2001 to 2010, and I asked a friend to care for it while we were gone. She kept it alive as well, but it didn’t flourish. When we bought a home in 2011, I got it back from her. With full custody of my and a better understanding of plants, I’ve repotted her twice, and I feed her every three months. She loves her west-facing window, and she’s watered every Friday. Last winter, my husband made a plant stand for our , complete with a tile top to prevent ruining any wood when accidentally overwatering. Since 2012, she’s bloomed a week or so before Thanksgiving and displayed her gorgeous fuchsia blooms for 5 to 6 months. Not too shabby, considering she’s over 80 years old! Each time I water her, I remember Grandma: her garden, her chickens, and most of all, her love of plants.

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