Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Aloha Aloe Vera


I probably would not be sharing this, if my sister had not encouraged it! So here goes. It was Sunday morning. I was getting ready for church, and, as usual, after the treadmill, I took my steamy mug-o-coffee out on my greenhouse porch to hang out with my lounging cats and look at my plants. Then, I saw it. I almost dropped my mug of coffee. My glorious aloe vera plant--several years old--looked like it had been through the French revolution and sent to the guillotine. Many of its fat, succulent stems were laying all over the floor around it, with their precious aloe extracts smashed into the greenhouse floor. I heard someone screaming. It was me.

I had to sit down and think for a minute, because I just couldn't imagine what had happened. It wasn't like the whole plant had been knocked over by the cats, and nobody at my house would have decided to trim my precious aloe plant, at least not the vibrant green healthy stems. Then it hit me. My precious little nephews had visited the day before, and they had been running around the house and the greenhouse.

Now, these are two very sweet boys, and yes, they are also very active. But, they are kind little souls, and would not do anything to purposely hurt their Aunt Sandy's feelings. Yet, you could look at Marie Antoinette (that's what I've renamed her) and see the work of little hands breaking off her stems, one by one. Sometimes, I let these kinds of things go. But I truly felt upset, and I let my sister know that I thought the boys had done this mischief.

As it happens, the boys admitted to it. I don't think they realized they were destroying a plant. They were running around, playing, and this plant got in their way (the five-year-old told me it was "scratching his arm" every time he went by it). Once they decided to prune it, they just went all the way. It must have been really fun breaking off those juicy stems and seeing that aloe vera extract go everywhere. The boys are even smart enough to know that it's a medicinal plant! It just didn't occur to them that this was a bad choice--they always help in the garden, and this was like gardening!

Many hours later, after church, after lunch, and after my daughter and I were busy planning her birthday party, the boys showed up. They had spent the afternoon writing "I'm Sorry" cards to Aunt Sandy, emptying their piggie banks and shopping for a new aloe vera plant. They even bought me special cactus soil and the cutest little cactus plant in a self-watering pot!

Of course, I didn't want them to spend their money, but their mother felt like this was an important part of the lesson they were learning. They were very proud to help me plant the new aloe vera, and make sure it was in a safe spot on the greenhouse. Their sweet, remorseful little faces said it all. They are both budding gardeners, and I know being around the garden teaches them a lot. This aloe vera incident taught us all lessons: patience, understanding, and that a hug can fix many things--even Marie Antoinette. It was not the end of the world, (as we had heard the day before), just the end of a vera.


  1. Oh I loved reading this story! It took me back to the day my now 27 year-old son wacked the budding heads off several of my agapanthus plants. I was devastated! I can imagine your pain but you've got some sweet nephews and I know you're doing better by now.

  2. Oh Sandy had to stop and read this when I saw it on your sidebar.. how gorgeous it is and very wise mumma (sis) too .. love little ones they are precious but can image how you felt as aloe vera are slow to grow!
    Shaz in oz.x