June 13, 2011


Vigna caracalla "Corkscrew Flower"

I have loved flowers almost as long as I’ve loved fairies. Sometime in the spring of 2004, I was looking through a flower catalogue for reference images for a fairy sketch, and found this flower.  I immediately knew I had to try growing one myself. Seven years later, and with over $200 wasted on various plant soils, seeds, seedlings, containers, plant food, fertilizers, etc. I have finally succeeded.

 Summer 2004- I ordered three plants. The plants that arrived were miserable and died shortly after. I called the company to put their 100% satisfaction guarantee to the test. They told me it was too late in the growing season for them to send me that plant again and I’d have to wait a whole year before they’d send me some new plants.

Spring 2005 (9 months later)- The new plants arrived. They died, again.

Summer 2005- I order some more plants through another company. These died too.

Winter 2005- I get married and move from California to Texas. I order a plant start from someone on Ebay. This dies a week after we move to Colorado in the summer of 2006. I’m blaming the altitude.

Summer 2006- Another Ebay plant. It dies indoors, over the winter.

Vigna caracalla "Snail Vine"
Spring 2007- By now I’m sick of buying plants that keep dying. I order a bunch of seeds through another catalogue so that I can be growing three at once. I buy a plant light and keep the seedlings protected over the winter.

Spring 2008- The plant  blooms and… It’s the snail flower, not the corkscrew flower. (They are different cultivars of the same plant species.) I complain to the seed company for misrepresenting their product.

I hope it gave you indigestion.

Spring 2008- I order seeds online from an Ebay seller for the correct flower. The plant  survives the winter, but not the freezing temperatures which continue through the spring.

Summer 2009-Another plant. The cat eats this one.

Spring 2010- I move with my husband to North Carolina. I start another seed.

Summer 2010- Another move, this time to Florida. My husband tells me, “Hey, at least your plant should do well.”

The vine looks very good through the fall, except it goes without water for two weeks over the winter holidays and looks pathetic when I get home.

Spring 2011- I move it outside because I feel guilty when I see it in the house.
It takes over the trellis and blooms the first week of June. I think this flower is just so gorgeous, and I'm sorry I can't share its fragrance. It's sweet, like honey suckle, lilies, and sweat pea.

I can't think of any other experience that has taught me patience more than this...

...except maybe querying my novel. (I don't have any children yet.)

And after seven years, I’m sitting at my computer, looking at the pictures and all I can think is, “Now what?”

Tacca chantrieri
Feel free to share your own stories of perseverance in the comments--whether it's writing a novel, graduating school, or growing a silly flower.

Or post the longest time you've waited in a line for a particular event. (EX: The premier of a new movie, a ride at a theme park, or waiting at the DMV.)


  1. oh wow! Those flowers are awesome! And go you for sticking with it!
    I've recently decided i want to get into terrariums. I'm just waiting for a book to arrive

  2. This doesn't even look real! Absolutely ethereal. I've tried for three years to get a passion flower to grow--I have high hopes for this summer.