January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Back east, where I lived for most of my life, jade plants were delicate things in small pots. Even the one I gave to my mother, gardener par excellence, remained bonsai-size, never taller than 7 or 8 inches.

At a North Shore Chicago florist, where I worked in graduate school, we marveled at a splendiferous jade plant brought in for repotting. It must have been a couple feet across–a veritable tree!

Then I moved to Southern California and discovered that jade plants grow like weeds here. One of my neighbors has a 20-foot-wide thicket of jade plants along the perimeter of her property. Every year in the dry season, the plant’s thumb-like leaves shrivel into desiccated remnants of their former selves, and I think, “Surely this time they’re dead.” And every year when the rains come, the leaves plump up again in a remarkable display of regeneration.

In a region where seasonal changes are subtle, I admire the jade’s blatant surprise.


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