I have two gardenia plants. Unremarkable until you learn that one is about 15 years old, and the other is about five years old. Both are cuttings from a gardenia which was given to my mother more than 45 years ago. That plant has been carried outside at Easter and inside at Thanksgiving to keep it alive and growing. I continue to do the same with mine because these plants won’t tolerate our cold Maryland winters, even though we kept the original one in an unheated but sunny room for several winters.
Mine have suffered over the past year due to a botched pruning job and a winter outbreak of aphids. Many of the leaves fell off and those that remained were not the deep green associated with gardenias. I had very few blossoms on either plant, although one was at my former office, and one was at the house. As soon as the weather looked like we were past any hard freezes, in early April, I lugged both plants outside and let the sun and the rain work on revitalizing them. Clearly this has worked better than I even anticipated, since both plants are covered in buds. I found the first open blossom when I let Connor into the back garden, and could smell the its gorgeous peppery scent in the morning air. I picked it, put it in a little silver pitcher and took it into the office.
When I got home from work, several more buds had bloomed into beautiful white blossoms, and I picked those as well, and brought them in to bask in their scent and their beauty. I love gardenias for the same reason I love magnolias – the amazingly white flowers against the glossy dark green leaves. I love these plants for their long history and for the unbroken chain of life that they represent.