Jennifer Knighton, Orchid Slayer

We bought this house from a man whose hobby was growing and propagating orchids. His greenhouse (now mine, obviously) contained over a hundred of these lovely plants, about a quarter of which were in bloom, along with a handful of bromeliads, ferns, and plumeria.

Part of the agreement in the sale of the house was that he would leave a selection of orchids for me to learn The Art of Orchid Keeping for myself. On the day we took possession of the house, I was pleased to discover nearly 20 specimens waiting for me in the greenhouse. I. Was. So. Excited.

And…I have been a miserable failure.

In my own defense, it should be noted that I actually have a bit of a green thumb. The kitchen of our last house was practically a jungle. I’ve had the same ivies, ficus trees, ferns, etcetera for nearly fifteen years. They’re all thriving and happy and loving the new place.

And yet…the orchids.

Between my incompetence and the severe drought and heat of the Summer of 2011, I managed to kill all but one of his prized orchids. And even that one looked pathetic – wrinkled and wilting.

Also, in my own defense, I’m a boss with bromeliads (he left me half a dozen.) They are flourishing and blooming and beautiful. I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

But the orchid. (Singular. Sadly.)

I had given up hope, though I continued to water it. Avoiding the leaves lest they turn yellow and fall off, as all the others had. I kept it in the same spot, on the same shelf, in the bright filtered light of the greenhouse. I bought a swamp cooler and a wireless heat & humidity monitor, so I could cool down that poorly constructed outbuilding during the often brutal Texas heat.

And what do you know, but the damn thing is about to bloom. Exhibit A:

There is hope for me yet.

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