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Rooted — Linda Contemplates Begonias And Angels

Rooted — Linda Contemplates Begonias And Angels

When Tim and I went into the second-hand shop just outside Richmond, Virginia, we were just browsing. My husband is a thrift shop — consignment shop — pawn shop junkie, so this is pretty normal behavior. He looks for random treasures among other people’s throw-aways, and sometimes he succeeds big time. This was not one of those times. 

But we got to talking to the woman who ran the shop and she took a liking to us. Or to Tim, anyway. He was struck by the wild array of green plants and flowers that led to the front door of this particular shop — especially the begonias. Lots of begonias, and some varieties we had never seen before. One stood out: a tall, gorgeous specimen with precise laser-cut leaves and subtle spotting. We inquired and were told it was an Angel Wing begonia. Tim and the proprietor talked for quite a while about the various species they had both come across; she could see he was fascinated and, a few minutes later, presented him with a six-inch shoot wrapped up in a moist paper towel. We took it home and Tim rooted they tiny thing. That was almost 20 years ago. Today, we are surrounded by plants, many of them begonias, some of them huge. A few continue to flower all winter long and I love the springs and summers they recall.

The Angel Wings are graceful, almost too tall to stand erect on their own; they will be seriously pruned this year. The ginger leaf ones are low and shiny and always look their best. The escargot patterned ones look other worldly. The deep red leaves of the painted-leaf begonias, the amusing polka dot begonias … we can’t get enough of them. 

Now, I can kill a plant as sure as look at it, but these beauties seem to thrive wherever we take them. I am particularly fond of the Angel Wings, thriving in spite of their odd stature — they seem to achieve more than is required. I am reminded of the tiny tinkling bell that sounds when the angels get their wings, according to Frank Capra in It’s a Wonderful Life. We mortals need more angels these days, more well-rooted folks who show up and do more than is required. And a lot more plants.