Monday, July 31, 2006
AMBIVALENT ABOUT ABUTILON
I've put a lot of sweat equity into this Flowering Maple since I've owned it the last several years. Mainly hauling it in and out of the house each spring and fall in its heavy clay pot. And for what? A few bell-shaped flowers that hide under the leaves and are barely visible. Every spring I add another support post and it now looks like it's lashed to the stake awaiting a flaming torch. Why do I keep this plant? There's nothing really wrong with it, it's just so understated for such a big tree-looking thing. Now I hear I'm supposed to pinch the tip of each branch back 2 inches to give it more of a "hanging plant" structure. This is something lazy gardeners really don't want to know.
Its other name, Chinese lantern, sounds like something I have strung across my patio. I bought these at a garage sale last year for about 50 cents and wondered why they should be such a great deal since they came from Crate & Barrel and were unused. Once I put them together, I "got" it. Each requires 2 AA batteries which according to the instructions, will last in the lanterns for approximately 6 hours. Six hours! Let's see, that's about $5.19 for three lanterns for a couple of evenings. But I shouldn't worry because the unreplaceable made-in-China lightbulbs will only last 3 hours. So each evening I flick them on and off for a couple of seconds just to tease the moths drawn to the light. Or maybe I SHOULD torch the abutilon and then I'd have a real Chinese lantern.