The definition of Irony

Aloe plicatilis-00309
Aloe plicatilis, from the Western Cape in South Africa, growing in a pot.
Neglected Aloe millii growing in a pot in the shade.

Several years ago, Richard, Tracy, Michele, and I went to a famous succulent garden in Bolinas (garden is maybe misleading, it was three big greenhouses and about a half-acre of planting beds with various species of succulents, mostly Euphorbias and famous is a relative word here, famous in the succulent community). The owner was a doctor and this garden was his hobby and, he explained, most of the plants were planted in the ground because they grew much faster (and they could be heavily fertilized). He more than explained it actually, he was an evangelist on planting specimens in the ground and dragged us around the garden showing us, “Look, this Aloe maculata grows OK in a pot but when I plant it in the ground, it goes crazy, and, look, look at this Euphorbia millii, it won’t even grow in a pot – well, it grows, but just barely – but put it in the ground and it grows everywhere. You’ve got to start growing plants in the ground, they go crazy.” And on and on.

He was a nice guy and interesting but he was obsessed with getting the plants to grow as fast as possible; obsessed with growth. When we left, the doctor gave us a cutting of a delightful little Aloe ciliaris which I put in a pot where it grew very well. When it got large enough, we took cuttings and planted them in the ground. Now, maybe 15 years later, the Aloe ciliaris in the pot is doing great and the cuttings we put in the ground are barely hanging on.

Oh! and the doctor is an oncologist.

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