25 Sep
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Ficus Benjamina Finds a Good Home-You Can Grow That!

 

Whenever new people come into my life, I warn them. Whereas some will state, “I hope you like dogs or cats,” in the spirit of full disclosure I must be honest, so I say, “I hope you like plants. Especially trees.” 

 

Big trees, little trees, flowering trees, full, lush trees and spindlier ones. I love them all. Especially those trees that thrive indoors—like Ficus benjamina. So when Davey Tree Expert Company recently gave me a F. benjamina at the end of an exhibition they participated in at the Garden Writers Association’s Annual Symposium, which I also attended, I jumped at the chance to bring the beauty home with me.

 

First, however, I had a few logistical challenges to overcome. Like how to get an 8-foot-tall ficus from point A, the convention center, to point B, my home an hour away. To complicate matters, I didn’t have a vehicle with me, and even if I did, my car wouldn’t be big enough. I left the convention center for an evening to attend my mother’s birthday party, however, and my son, Danny, who owns a small SUV, was bringing me back to the convention.

 

 

Ficus Benjamina-Davey Tree-edited-resized

 (Photo, Julie Bawden-Davis, HealthyHouseplants.com)

 

I waited until the end of the birthday party when good will and cheer flowed to mention to Danny: “Oh, by the way, we need to pick up a little tree when we get back to the convention. I need you to bring it back to the house.”

 

“A tree?” my son asked, his eyes narrowing. “And how big is this ‘little’ tree?”

 

“Just 8 feet tall,” I mumbled.

 

“What?”

 

“She said 8 feet tall,” offered my son-in-law, Jeremy, putting himself on thin ice that cracked when he asked, “Where are you going to put the tree when you get it home?”

 

“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” I quipped, and as another garden writer affirmed when I shared my story later, where I put it was entirely irrelevant at that point.

 

“Now about getting my new tree friend home,” I continued, as I spied family members ensnared in my past plant retrievals and rescues slink off to their cars.

 

Danny and I were left standing all alone in the parking lot and he asked, “What kind of tree?”

 

“It’s a lovely Ficus benjamina,” I proclaimed.

 

“Those are really nice trees,” conceded Danny, who works at M & M Nursery when he’s not at college studying to be a computer programmer. “But I don’t know if my car is long enough.”

 

“Oh, it will be fine!” I assured him with more bravado than I felt as we got into his car. You see, I had just realized the first of several wrinkles. Danny had elbow surgery three weeks before and couldn’t lift anything, so it would be me in my evening gown retrieving the tree and getting it into the car. No problem, I assured myself. This would run as smooth as …. (The fact that I couldn’t think of an analogy troubled me, but off we headed for the tree.)

 

The folks at Davey Tree left the tree outside of the convention center in the bushes where it would blend in and not attract attention prior to my swooping in at midnight to spirit it off.

  

“I hope the ficus doesn’t make a mess of my car,” said Danny. “You brought plastic, right?”

 

Another mumble from me.

 

“You don’t have any plastic?”

 

I had managed to get a big plastic bag at the restaurant that I assured him would protect his car. “Besides, it’s going to be dry—so as long as we cover the pot part up, it’s all good.”

 

Infamous last words.

 

When Danny dropped me off to get the tree and I clomped up in my high heels, my evening gown billowing in the warm night breeze, the sprinklers had just finished soaking the mighty ficus. Water droplets flew here and there as I pulled it out of the muddy planting bed and began dragging it down the walkway towards his car waiting curbside. As I moved the ficus, I hoped that no one would think I was stealing convention center property, or even worse, another garden writer saw me and taped the performance for posterity on YouTube.

 

At long last, I got the tree to Danny’s SUV and at my insistence he protected his elbow by simply guiding the tree in as I hoisted and pushed it forward. The top of the tree filled his front passenger seat and spilled over onto Danny in the driver’s seat, but what a trooper. All that green training as a parent paid off! He said goodbye; brushed the foliage out of the way, put the car in drive and hurtled off into the night tree in tow.

 

An hour later I could rest easy when I received word that the tree had arrived safe and sound. I knew that the rest of my trees were happy to add a new member to the clan.

Julie Bawden-Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based garden writer and master gardener, who has written more than 2,000 articles for publications like Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Wildflower and The Los Angeles Times. She is a garden columnist with Parade.com, and is the author of 7 books, including Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, The Strawberry Story series and Fairy Gardening.

Website: www.healthyhouseplants.com

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