The merry month of May is the glorious month of flowers. So appropriate that my youngest sister Chichi messaged me today about a rare flower that bloomed last night, in the veranda of our home in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines. The Queen of the Night, scientifically called epiphyllum oxypetalum, made its dramatic appearance, spurring tremendous excitement that reached far California. I got very excited, too.
As to be expected, the demure visitor stayed just a few hours. Like a thief in the night, the blossom of this mystifying flower lingers only for one night. Growers, like my sister, have to keep watch and be alert for any sign of bloom. This flower is much sought after around the world, Chichi told me. Perhaps, that’s the very reason the Queen doesn’t stay very long, not long enough for any admirer to grab it off its stem. The Queen is of a succulent cactus that prefers to grow in the shade. Best to station it where it gets only indirect sunlight during the daytime. When fully open, the flower can stretch to nine or ten inches in diameter. Besides its allure and elegance, the Queen also effuses a delicate whiff that spreads over a wide vicinity, its royal court so to speak.
I can imagine my sister and my brother-in-law peeking out every night to check for any clandestine visit from the Queen of the Night. I just wonder – if I’m back there, would I carry my blanket and pillow out to the veranda and, despite the balmy night air, would I take my position beside the Queen?
I dote over my own arcane flower at home in Palo Alto. The red camellia that my husband planted decades ago, at the corner right outside our patio wall, wakes up from hibernation every spring.
Queen of the Night (Photos by Drs. Dodong and Chichi Gordoncillo)
Petals fallen from one mystifying camellia — gathered and looking like rose or cyclamen (Photo by lpj)
It literally wakes up with such vibrancy that boasts of bright red blooms layered on top of the thick bush. My dining table is never without one or two camellias in the spring, a gentle and endearing “gift” from my husband (now deceased). A shade of mysticism about that flower. The versatility of the camellia intrigues me. It can morph into a different flower (my quirky abstraction). Often after a day or two in the short vase, the bright red turns a deep crimson velvet, and the petals arrange themselves to look like a rose. What gives the appearance of a rose is the way the inner petals cluster in crowded spaces just like a bud in bloom. So, I call it a Camille-rose. And, adding to its mystic aura, when the outer petals fall, I gather them up and put them back on the sides of the small vase. The petals then look like individual flowers much like cyclamen. So, I call them Camille-cyclamen. A flower of various personalities. Or, is it just the lively work of my active imagination? Nonetheless, I thank God for His creation of such beauty.
More bewildering flowers. Two weeks on my dining table and they look as fresh and robust as the day I received them for Mother’s Day. My daughter Joy and son-in-law Matt had them delivered, but little did they know that those stunning flowers would stay as fresh as when they first came. I posted a picture of the bouquet in my previous blog. Honestly, the flowers still look very much as in the photo in my blog. My “trade secret”? Nothing more than changing the water in the vase every three days – and yes, talking softly to them as whispers of “how lovely you are!” And humming a tune or two as I carefully shake and spread the stems in the tight bunch for a breath of air.
May is a zesty time for flowers on the patio and backyard at the home of my son John, daughter-in-law Natasha and grandson Eliott. In past visits, I always thought that the garden spectacle offered a glimpse of paradise on a miniature scale. Though I haven’t visited since the start of the pandemic, I can still enjoy impressions of the garden in my imagination. Yellow, red, pink, purple and white flowers lining the edge of the wooden patio and by the side fence. And a tall bush laden with canary yellow daisies, just like the abundant mass across the street in front of my wide glass patio door. Without walking out, I feel this urge to virtually reach out and just brush my fingers over those vibrant petals before the breeze slithers them to the ground.
Now, would you think that the merry month of May has done “something” to me? Yes, it makes me gush with delight and appreciation for all the flowers – and everything in nature that magnificently speaks of the grandiose work of God’s creation. Glorious, and offers much joy!