August 3rd, 2007
Kindness of Friends

I fell under the enchantment of this mystery flower.

Friday a week ago, I was feeling rather frazzled and just needed to get out of the house. I sought solace in the Zilker Botanical Garden. It’s just down the street from my house and I can’t think why I don’t visit it more often. The crowds, probably. But last Friday was a rainy day in a week of rainy days. The gardens were almost empty.

I wended my way through the butterfly garden and slipped in the back way to the Hartman Prehistoric Garden. I’ve never seen it look so lush. The waterfall was flowing well and it looked like I had walked onto the set of some jungle movie…complete with surprises lurking around the bend.

Zilker Park Hartman Prehistoric Garden
I went back and snapped this photo today which was sunny and hot. It’s much more mysterious and evocative in mist and rain. I regret not carrying my camera with me always.

What attracted my attention most was this large white flower with an intoxicating scent. I couldn’t get enough of it. Whatever it was I wanted it for the bog garden-to-be next to my new pond.

I grew up in the desert and don’t have any experience with tropical or pond plants. A week passed and I stopped in at Emerald Garden to see if I could find it. I think I saw the plant but it wasn’t in flower so I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t find a label or anyone to help me, so I left.

Then yesterday, I visited Annie in Austin because her new Adirondack chair has inspired me to paint our outdoor table the same bright yellow…and I wanted to see what the color looked like in real life. Of course, the first thing we did was sniff around her garden. Everything is in bloom and looks lovely. And there it was. The mystery flower. It’s a ginger. And she gave me one! I’m so excited.

We also had a lovely conversation which ended up lasting all afternoon long. Both Annie and Pam/Digging have graciously acted as sounding boards this week for a decision I’ve been toying with. They allowed me to toss ideas around and provided tons of encouragement. I hope they know how much I appreciate it.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Kindness of Friends”

  1. From Pam/Digging:

    That’s a great photo of the dinosaur sculpture in the Hartman Prehistoric Garden. I really need to go over there and do a “tour” someday.

    And as for providing a sounding board, I was happy to do it.

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    Visiting your blog is always a treat, MSS, but seeing you in person has its own wonderfulness. It was pretty thrilling to be able to act as Fairy Godmother, and hand you the ginger.

    We watched the Hartman being built, have been in love with it from the beginning and take our out-of-town visitors there. I’m jealous that you live so close to Zilker Botanical Gardens.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. From Lou:

    I think this is your mystery flower: Ginger

    They do smell wonderful. My mother had them in her garden in Louisiana.

  4. From LostRoses:

    MSS, how fortunate to find out so quickly what your mystery plant is. That Annie has a diverse garden! Ginger was never on my radar until I noticed it in Mexico this year and I had to look it up when I got home.

    Love the dinosaur garden, I’ve never seen anything like that!

    Annie grows so many plants I don’t; I grow some she doesn’t. Over time, as we share back and forth, I suspect our plant list will become more and more aligned. — mss

  5. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    When I lived near a botanical garden I sought solace there often. As a rule it was never very crowded, which was great.

    Growing up in a desert is very different from how I grew up. We have rain most of the year, usually too much rather than too little.

    What fun that you found your mystery plant at Annie’s! Enjoy your new ginger plant!

    What serendipity! Seeing the all gardens on the pond tour flourishing in this unusually rainy year, it’s easy to come come under the spell of tropical plants I’ve never considered before. What happens when Austin gets back to normal or drought-like conditions…well, I don’t want to think about it. — mss

  6. From Dawn:

    I love the Japanese Gardens at Zilker, but I’ve never been to the Hartman Prehistoric Garden. Must put that on my “to do” list. My son would love it!

    Congrats on getting the ginger. Gift plants are a double blessing. 🙂

  7. From Angelina:

    Obviously I am now intrigued with the what your ideas might be, is it something you might reveal at a later date here on this blog?

    Now I’m curious to locate some ginger to smell it for myself. That’s one of the things I love about gardening though, finding mysterious plants to fall in love with and the hunt that inevitably ensues to name it, find it, and plant it.

    I love the mystery and the hunt, too. What amazed me about this ginger is that I fell in love with it one Friday, and Annie was pressing a gift of it on me the next. How lucky is that? — mss

  8. From kate (Canada):

    This was a wonderful post. I loved that you found your mystery plant at Annie’s. You are fortunate to have Annie and Pam living nearby!

    I am! And I’d never met them if the three of us hadn’t started garden blogging. — mss