A Flower for Allison

February 16, 2010 | By | Comments (6)

The Grump misses Allison.

For years, Allison wrote for the “Healthy Living” section of Southern Living and sat just a short distance from my office. She was always upbeat and positive, loved to laugh, and her smile could light up a cavern. On those days when the Grump was feeling even grumpier than usual, Allison could turn the darkest skies blue.

At least, if you were a co-worker. Unfortunately, when it came to plants, she was the Princess of Death. She could kill anything and it didn’t matter how tough it was. Snake plant? Dead. Cast iron plant? Dead. Pothos? Dead. Spider plant? Muerto.Tomato plant? Don’t even ask.

Plants knew about Allison too. Every time someone dropped off a plant on her desk, a blood-curdling scream of terror immediately ensued. The plant understood what was coming.

Allison doesn’t work here anymore. An innocent victim of corporate downsizing, she left last December. Before she did, she asked me to take care of her Christmas cactus. It was the sorriest looking specimen I’d ever seen.

It’d been growing under dim, fluorescent lights with very little water. My first instinct was to put it out of its misery. But I took pity, parked it on my office windowsill, and started watering it.

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a tiny, pink bud swelling at the end of one stem. Surely, that thing will dry up and fall off, I thought. But it just kept getting bigger and bigger. This morning it surprised me with a beautiful pink flower.

Xmas cactus

Allison, I know you sometimes read the Grumpy Gardener, so I want you to know your Christmas cactus is in good hands. Its bloom lights up my office, just like your smile used to do.


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Thanks a lot, Annie. Good info.

    February 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm
  2. Annie in Austin

    Nice to know a sweet surprise flower that reminds you of a friend can make even ol’ Grumpy kinda sentimental. I’m sorry about your friend Allison and hope she landed somewhere good.
    Gardenbloggers Kathy Purdy at Cold Climate Gardening and Craig at Ellis Hollow have written quite a lot about snowdrops and visits via their chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society.
    They toured the Temple Nursery garden which was also written up in the NYTimes:
    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    February 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm
  3. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    I would call Winterthur Museum & Gardens in Winterthur, Delaware. Try this number: (302) 888-4743.

    February 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm
  4. Charlotte

    Grumpy Gardener … can you help?? Where will I find snowdrops in the US? Are there any gardens that have good displays?

    February 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm
  5. Jean

    Awww sorry about your friend but you can call this a Valentine cactus?

    February 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm
  6. Cameron (Defining Your Home)

    A lovely bloom on a plant that can be really persnickety. A nice photo for your friend in this cold winter.

    February 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

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