Outdoors in

I brought Mama this Pineapple Lilly as an early birthday gift, August 2014.

I brought Mama this Pineapple Lilly as an early birthday gift, August 2014.

“Bring the outdoors in. Plants make for a happy home.”Mr Jason Grant

There were a lot of ways my mother created a happy home for us, and one of them was the way she loved plants, indoors and out.  She was often joked about spoken of in regard to her composting and organic vegetable gardening, but she always liked plants of all kinds.  The longest words in her vocabulary that I can remember were those that were the names of plants.

I grew up hearing about (and enjoying the beauty of) azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias, to name just a few, but the names for the indoor plants were even more exotic: dieffenbachia, schefflera, caladiums, and others I can’t quite remember.  She sent me off to college with coleus and philodendron to adorn my dorm room and keep the air fresh.  While I was never as good at tending plants as she was, I did find that the plants added a note of cheer to brighten my days.

Recently we were able to make a quick trip to Atlanta, so I took the opportunity to give Mama an early birthday present I can’t usually manage because of the distance: a nice new houseplant that has the potential to live outdoors, if she decides to transplant it.  I chose one I had never seen before, but instantly liked: the pineapple lily pictured above.  I thought the purple color and unusual blooms would be a novelty among her other growing things.

Do you keep houseplants?  If so, what are your favorites?  If not, adding a plant to your life might be a great way to brighten your home and improve your health.  It may sound wacky, but a number of studies suggest there are measurable benefits in spending time with greenery, including happier moods and enhanced creativity.

Happy Birthday today to my mother, who taught me a lot about how to help all kinds of living things grow!

One year ago today:

A combination


  1. Good morning, Julia! What a lovely and interesting plant!
    I once worked for a floral company, and was delighted to learn a new long word: alstroemeria! While not my favorite flower, it’s respectably pretty, can be purchased in such a variety of shades as to match nearly any decor, and last nearly forever (or at least, a long time relative to other cut flowers). It’s probably the one that I buy most often.
    Happy birthday to Julia’s mom!

    • Susan, I LOVE those flowers! I only recently found out what they were called, and I just looked it up again to make sure I knew the ones you were talking about. They come in such pretty colors and last so long. When I get a mixed bouquet, they are among the last that have to be thrown away. I have often wondered whether they could be easily grown in a garden? I should read more about it. Thanks for the birthday wishes for Mom!

  2. Ann

    Happy Birthday to your mom😊😊.

    I love house plants and have many. When I plan to group the plants together, I buy ones that require similar light but have different leaves. The contrast in shape, size and color of leaves makes for an interesting array.

    Hope your internet connection returns to normal soon! That can be soooooo frustrating!


    • Hi Ann, I’m back home now where I have wifi. We were on the road (mostly in rural areas) and I couldn’t get any wifi for much of my time away, not even any cell phone service. So it’s great to be connected again! I hope to re-do the plants in our sun room this year and I’d like to get a variety. The ones we have are all overgrown for their pots and we can’t get any larger containers than the ones we already have. Which do you find easiest to grow? We get pretty good light year round since our sunroom has a five-sided outer shape, with windows all around. Thanks for the birthday wishes for Mama!

  3. What a wonderful memory Julia. A very Happy Birthday to your Mom. Today is my son’s Birthday as well.
    My mother was also wonderful with plants and flowers. I on the other hand have a black thumb, sad, however I love plants and flowers and wish I could keep them alive. However I do have a bamboo plant that was given to me quite some time ago and it is doing well. Ohhh, to have a green thumb. :o)

    • Thanks Patricia, Happy Birthday to your son too! Hey, maybe I should try bamboo. I love the way it looks and I’m not too good with plants either, so that might be a good one for me. Jeff is much more disciplined about watering them regularly than I am. I do wish I had a green thumb but maybe I will someday acquire one! Till then I have resolved that it’s better to keep trying and replace the plants now and then, than to be without them. 😀 I do a bit better with my outdoor plants, especially easy ones such as geraniums and begonias. But I’m not great at houseplants. I would love to have a house full of them.

  4. Rene

    Unfortunately, I’ve killed every plant that I’ve tried to add to my yard or been given as a gift. I do love to look at them though, and as the work on recreating our yard has begun, I’m looking forward to enjoying a lot of color and greenery from the safety of my porch.

    That IS a beautiful and unusual plant!

    • Thanks Rene, I am thinking of getting myself a plant like that one (the pineapple lily) if I can find one locally. I’m curious as to whether it would be easy to grow. Jeff and I find that it’s really hit or miss with plants we get for our yard. Sometimes a plant that is doing poorly in one location will do great if we move it only a short distance away, even when we cannot tell much difference in the light exposure or other factors. I have also come to the conclusion that plants are like people, and have different constitutions and sensitivities, even within the same variety. Maybe that’s just how I rationalize when we have one that dies on us. 😀

  5. Carolyn

    Enjoyed your blog today and I hope that your mom will have a wonderful birthday. That plant is beautiful. I hope you got my note,I think I used the right address. How is Jeff and love to all.

    • Hi Carolyn, we just got in from out of town but I’m sure your note will be in our held mail. I will look forward to it! Jeff seems to be doing OK. He got through the trip without any major problems and though I know he is exhausted, I know he is glad he got to visit his family. We had not been there for three years, since the year before he was diagnosed. Love to you and Terry.

  6. Happy birthday to your mother, Julia. What a loving tribute, both this post and that over the top gorgeous plant. I’ve always had houseplants. My parents had them too, and of course since Daddy was a horticulturist, giving flowers and plants has always seemed like a wonderful gift, both giving and receiving.

    I have a miniature yellow rose growing outside, a housewarming gift from 18 years ago. Many of my houseplants go back 25 years. I take it personally if I lose one. It’s wonderful bringing the outdoors in.

    Great post.

    • Thanks Alys! I figured you would be good at houseplants since you are such a wonderful gardener. I didn’t realize (or maybe had just forgotten) that your father was a horticulturist. It must be a genetic talent! When we lived in northern CA, a friend brought me a miniature rose (mine was pink) and it too did very well outside. I used to have miniature yellow roses in our yard when we lived on the central coast, at Vandenberg AFB. Roses seem to LOVE California! They are everywhere there, and so beautiful. I’d have to say, though, that 18 years is quite impressive! My mother has a couple of shrubs that came from plants at their old homes or parents’ homes. I love it when they have stories to go with them. I’m happy you liked the post!

      • Julia, I’m never sure who knows what. I’m either guilty of repeating a story three times, or surprised when someone doesn’t know some detail that I was sure I shared. I could blame it on menopause, but honestly I think I’ve done that my whole life.

        Sometimes I think things, then wonder if I actually said it out loud or just thought I did.

        Roses do like it here. People grow them effortlessly.

        • Alys, I do the same thing. In fact, I even imagine doing something (such as packing an item or mailing a note) and then later wonder whether I did it, or just thought about doing it. I recently read that this is “normal,” whatever normal means, but I suppose it’s a sign of how distracted and overwhelmed I get sometimes. Or maybe it shows just how vivid my imagination can be. All the more reason to simplify, which doesn’t come easily for a person such as I who find almost everything interesting.

          • Here is another idea: Create a private (unpublished) blog that only you can see. Write a story, poem, or collect a quote for things you find interesting and log them on your private blog. Then, if it is an item you can let go, let it go. You can also scan special letters or documents, or send them to be scanned via Scan Cafe. Something to think about.


            • Thanks Alys, I like these ideas. One nice thing about scanning old letters and so on is that copies can be made for anyone who might find them interesting (such as letters from my grandmother whose grandchildren all remember her fondly and would probably love to read her sweet homey observations). Long ago I read a good hint that taking a photo of larger mementos (such as kids’ science fair projects) makes it easier to throw them away.

              • Exactly! It’s a great way to keep the memory alive without storing those fragile, dust-gathering projects.

  7. Beautiful plant. A pineapple lily…first time to see one. Thanks for sharing. I know your Mom loves it. 🙂

    • Thanks Merry, that’s the only time I’ve seen one too. I am going to start looking around and see if I can find one here in Virginia.

  8. Happy Birthday to your Mama, Sybil. I’m hoping that she had a lovely birthday. I’m sure Mr. Carlyle saw to that! 🙂 I needed to add some house plants several months ago so I went to my favorite florist in Myrtle Beach, picked out 3 containers, multiple small plants, they arranged them and I have enjoyed them all summer. When I was growing up, I can remember the ladies called them “dish gardens”. We had a magnificent double rainbow this evening at sunset. 🙂 Thinking of the Denton clan.

    • Sheila, I’ve always wanted to buy or put together a dish garden. I think they are lovely and a great way to have some variety. Do they grow well indoors? Most of the ones I’ve seen ready-made are with outdoor bedding plants. I can’t remember when I’ve seen a double rainbow; maybe not since we left Hawaii! Thanks for your birthday wishes for Mama, and for your thoughts for us. It’s great to be home and catching up. Happy Sunday tomorrow!

      • Julia, I came back to admire the Pineapple Lilly that is so beautiful. The dish gardens are so easy, watered once a week, growing and may have to be transplanted. I’ll just pick out larger containers and have my florist gals do it. One tip is the plants are not planted directly in the container but left in their individual plastic pots, positioned, then use florist Spanish moss as the filler around the edges to cover and complete. They use a plastic pot liner inside the container. Hope this makes perfectly good sense to you. 🙂

        • Sheila, that makes PERFECT sense, and it’s a lot less intimidating to think of leaving the plants in their individual pots. Not sure why, but it seems quicker that way. I may have to try it this spring. If so I will send you a photo!

  9. LB

    Your mama and mine sure could talk indoor gardening!
    I have lots of indoor plants but no variety. Philodendron, “Christmas” cactuses, and a few others. Ah well … lack of variety still affords for pretty plants!

    • Talking about plants and gardens is one of the few topics my mother really enjoys. I remember knowing someone who had a beautiful plant that they told me was a Christmas cactus, but I have forgotten what it looked like; I’ll have to look it up. I was always crazy about philodendron because they were so easy to grow. I read they are very good for the air indoors, too. I just love cactus flowers, so bright and pretty.

  10. raynard

    Julia my mom had these tall plants that she grew from pieces of other plants. They almost look like rubber plants and our next door neighbor has some on her patio.I guess ( you can throw that hint again about my wife and I going to The Dupont Mansion and Gardens lol

    • Do they grow indoors? I need to get some big tall ones for our sunroom. I love to grow plants from other plants. It’s like recycling, only better, since you get to keep the one you started with!

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