Weekly Writing Challenge: From Mundane to Meaningful

On August 6th, WordPress announced a new series of Weekly Writing Challenges.  The debut topic, entitled “Mundane to Meaningful,” is designed to promote creativity by finding a deeper, universal meaning in the facts of your story.  Let’s begin!

The Mundane:
Yesterday, I saw a shopping cart of deeply discounted orchids at Winn-Dixie.  Most looked BAD, but one had a new 6″ spike.  I noticed it was severely potbound. After a cursory look at the info-tag, I decided to buy it.  I watered it thoroughly when I got home, then set about googling the info-tag. Had to work from memory because I somehow left the tag in the cart!?! Bottom-line: Wierd plant from an even wierder nursery.

The Meaningful:
Yesterday, I made a rather unusual purchase at the Winn-Dixie:

Phalaenopsis Lila Mystique

Although glaringly obvious when I snapped this outdoor picture, the strange blue splotches weren’t visible under the store’s florescent lights!  At the time, I was FAR more concerned with the plant’s severely potbound roots:

Potbound Phalaenopsis roots

The info-tag listed it as a Phalaenopsis Lila Mystique, and since I’m a sucker for anything with a flower spike, (and have successfully grown phals before)  I decided to buy it…and remember ➡ I had yet to notice the strange blue tint!

But I was about to!

Upon returning home, I took Lila to the spigot for a proper watering and realized my hands looked like a pen had burst all over them!  Annoyed, I searched for more than 20 minutes for the dang plant tag before assuming I’d lost it somewhere between checkout and the car! 🙄 Time to wash my hands and start Googling what little I remembered!

Turns out Lila Mystique is the latest creation of Silver Vase Nurseries, a Florida company with a patented technique for colorizing orchids!  When buds form during the spiking process, the stalk of a white phalaenopsis is injected with dye. The color is absorbed by the orchid’s vascular system and Voilá—petals soon open in shades nature never intended!

According to the company’s literature “the intervention is performed in an environment that keeps the infection risk for the plant at a minimum.” The non-toxic dye is not available to the public, nor is the exact procedure published anywhere online that I could find. The Silver Vase greenhouse is fully robotized and environmentally friendly, producing more than 2 million units for year-round distribution. Welcome to the brave new world!

As you might imagine, there’s been a fair amount of controversy since colorized orchids debuted at the 2011 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition. Initially, many consumers assumed they were purchasing hybrids and were shocked when subsequent bloom cycles revealed white flowers!  Not to mention the HUGE price disparity between dye-infused and “garden variety” phals!!! Imagine paying 29.99 for the former and discovering a year later what you’ve actually bought is nothing but an overpriced 10.00 plant!?  😮

I’m pleased to say I only spent 9.99, so a huge “Thank You”  to Winn-Dixie!  As the old adage claims, “you get what you pay for”…in this case  a spiking orchid and the chance to learn something new!

Until next time!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

Quite some time ago, I transplanted a madagascar palm, and while so doing, caught sight of a tiny plant emerging nearby.  It didn’t look like anything I’d sown, but it also didn’t appear “weed-like.”  After a few seconds consideration, I decided to let it be…then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward 6 weeks, to the day my orchids bloomed. I was searching Google to round out my knowledge of these beautiful flowers, when i read a description that reminded me of something I’d seen before:  “A small terrestrial plant 4-25cm (1-1/2 to 10 in.) tall, with five to twelve lanceolate leaves that are green with purple and/or tan pigmentation, 1-8cm( 3/8 to 3 in.) long and up to 1 cm (~3/8 in.) wide.  The flowers are white with a yellow lip narrowing at the base.  There are five to fifty flowers in a terminal spike.”

I grabbed my camera and ran out to look for it:

Zeuxine strateumatica

Yup, I'm the plant she let be...and I just bloomed!

Sure enough…right where I’d left it, with one big exception…it developed a flower!

Say hello to Zeuxine strateumatica, a lawn orchid with a very interesting history!   Native to Southeast Asian rainforests, this little plant was first seen in the USA right here in Indian River County!  Horticulturists theorize it arrived in 1936 via seedbags of centipede grass imported from China and spread quickly in our hot humid climate. It was said to “soldier on” resulting in a nickname  “Soldier Orchid” for this completely non-threatening flower!  😉

In my research, I learned Z. strateumatica appears haphazardly, for reasons ill defined and less understood.  Just because it grew this year, doesn’t mean it will return next, or any year, hereafter!  I’m so glad I didn’t pluck it and chuck it in my overzealous desire to be weed free. How easily I might have missed my one and only chance to see something special.

So the moral of the story is this: Sometimes looking DOWN, requires a great deal of “looking up” to make sense of what you’ve seen.  🙂

Until next time….Soldier on! 😉 🙂