Gardens are full of surprises and mine is no exception, despite it’s tiny scale. In the last few days, after a walk around the estate (picture tongue firmly in cheek here), I noticed some exciting changes. Plants I’d forgotten I had, were emerging from their winter slumber while others were beginning to bloom.

One bromeliad in particular sent my heart racing. Never had a plant induce a racing heart? Well, you’re obviously missing out. As if its beautiful foliage wasn’t enough, it sent out a long spike with a developing bud at its tip; the very first one for this ‘pup’ from my friend’s original plant.


Rozzie’s birthday bromeliad

I wish I could tell you the name of this spectacular specimen but it’s been called ‘Rozzie’s Birthday Bromeliad’ for so long that I’ve forgotten its (lesser important) botanical moniker. I watch with bated breath as its bud unfolds.


Rozzie’s bromeliad bud promises more surprises as it unfolds

My gingers are equally surprising. Is my failing memory the reason the flower pictured below is such a surprise? Or perhaps it’s the first flower produced by this ginger plant? My random eye-level encounters usually involve spiders, but in this case I was surprised when I came face to face with the bud and a flash of pink caught my eye. Pink? I remember I had orange, red, green  and even yellow ginger flowers to look forward to, but this pink is definitely new.


Pink ginger flower

I’m grateful that life continues to surprise me. Sometimes from previously un-visited random quarters; other times because I have looked at the familiar more closely or with new eyes.

A recent training day for a voluntary position helping patients with cancer brought that thought home to roost. In my last post I mused how entrenched in human nature our propensity to pass judgement is. Our brains use schemas or templates for thinking about things. It makes sense. Otherwise every time we saw a bromeliad we’d have to go through a lengthy process of evaluating its elements to come up with exactly what we were viewing. Okay, spiky leaves, probably epiphytic, pretty flowers, South American origins … ummm, looks, smells, feels like …? and so on.

Thinking in terms of human evolution, quick evaluation could be seen as a survival necessity. Imagine if as a cave-woman (I know, but suspend disbelief), I’d had to go through that lengthy process. By the time I’d made my evaluation from scratch without the help of a bromeliad schema, the plant might have shambled up, swallowed me whole and spat out the bones. Stereotypes fill the same shortcut function.

But I’m off track here. The thing is, people at the training seminar didn’t conform to my idea or schema of cancer volunteers. Although they had compassion in common, they came from all walks of life, age groups, motivations, and religious and political persuasions. It was a surprise to me and a pleasant one given the state of our seemingly ‘all-about-me’ world and the relentless 24 hour news-cycle bombardment of disaster.

Beautiful flowers bloom in the garden of humanity, although most probably aren’t considered newsworthy enough to report. And they don’t always align with my expectations of who they should be.

Now that’s a lovely surprise.

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.

Alice Walker

For further reading on schema see:

15 responses to “Surprise!

  1. you are so correct about the news bombardment of bad things. Really mostly news is composed of bad and sad things, while beauty , good and truth get no mention. There are more good and wonderful people who live quiet lives in the service of others. well done for helping out by volunteering.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rozzie’s Birthday Bromeliad is making very exciting progress. Even a non-botanist (for example, me!) can see that.

    As for the volunteering, I’m heartened to hear you met such great people. There are lot of nice souls out there. Unfortunately, it often seems to be the loud, obnoxious or dangerous ones that turn up on our TV screens, for some reason.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. People and plants can pleasantly surprise us. It was lovely to read about Rossie’s Bromeliad. I’ll have to see if we have one here in our Botanical Gardens. I have a little verse book set in the gardens about a baby pitcher plant that decides one day to become a vegetarian. It’s entitled Carnivore Conundrum and I’ve someone working on the book cover right now.
    It’s wonderful that you are part of a group of advocates for cancer patients. When we are at Johns Hopkins, I often say to Charley, “What do people do who have no one to help them through this?” I worry about them. It is so good some of them have people like you to be there when they need it most. Have a peaceful week, Robyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many people offered us support it only seems right to give something back Clare. I love the sound of your verse book. Pitcher plants are fascinating. Some of them are huge. In Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay they have a wonderful collection. Some I’ve never seen before. All the best for the book. Please write a post about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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