There certain instances in life that simply have to be accepted as they enter your life, or leave, without any explanation or scientific reasoning possible. It just is. With such a precept, I would normally write about people who pass through my life, journey with me, and then follow their own path. This is a fact of life that I have come to accept, surrendered to, and ceased to question. The reason will eventually be revealed later on. This time it is a plant.
Ever since I laid eyes on the Medinilla Magnifica over 20 years ago, it secretly became my goal life to own one, but all attempts to find one – an affordable one, that is – failed.
The story isn’t even an extraordinary one. I was in the my favourite plant supply shop hunting for pots and potting soil to prepared my outdoor plants for the relocation into the winter garden. Now that the temperatures have dropped to a frosty 4c in the mornings, the summer plants are no longer happy outside. As always in the plant shop, I set out to purchase one item, and six or seven others jump into my cart.
Known elsewhere around the world as the rose grape, pink lantern, or chandelier tree, the most common name is the Philippine Orchid and is native to Luzon. The flowers are the size of a small grapefruit or a large orange, take your pick, and they have a peculiar feature beneath the petals that resemble grapes, which is where the name comes from. Believe me when I tell you that the plant is a stunner in every way possible, not just for the colour, but the manner in which the blossoms cascade.
I couldn’t stop staring at the single pot in the shop from the moment I entered. It was like an apparition, and I wondered what on earth this exotic plant was doing in cold Europe. Well, it seems that the cultivation and propagation of the Medinilla Magnifica has taken flight successfully in non-tropical countries such as Canada and The Netherlands, and there are several large greenhouses dedicated only to this plant. But back to my story… as I approached the plant and stood in silent awe before it, a strange connection developed between us. Like I said, I can’t explain it. All I knew was that this plant and I were destined to be together.
Yes, of course it came home with me. The reconfiguration of the conservatory and the Feng Shui corner that ensued thereafter had the cats staring at me in bewilderment and utter discontent, but one can never tell with Persians and their flat grimaces… In the end, the Pink Lantern has found its place of honour and I somehow feel at peace. One of my long-forgotten and suppressed dreams has come true, and I choose to believe that this is an auspicious sign of great things to come.