This is a petrocosmea, a ground-hugging, rosette-forming relative of the African violet, hailing from the mountains of Western China. In its natural habitat it has a nice, orderly life, bathed in cool mist, languishing in the shade. Each plant produces an ever-expanding, mathematically perfect spiral of downy leaves, softer than a lamb’s ears. Occasionally one might break loose and flower before going back to its disciplined existence. How I envy the control this petrocosmea has over its life, going through the motions “just so”.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the mountain, it feels like the human race is hell-bent on making life as complex as possible. I say this, please understand, as a someone who is just about to go on holiday, is supposed to be planning another, and is managing a building project whilst at the same time guaranteeing that Christmas will be wonderful for the middle echelons of UK society. Just tonight this feels like rather a burden. Instead of gently increasing, my world feels like it’s going in ever decreasing circles. Come Saturday at 12.00 I am confident the fog will lift, the cogs will stop whirring and the chaos will cease. I’ll be able to enjoy the experience of sharing our garden with other plant lovers and restore a little calm and balance to my life again. My niece Martha will be arriving on Monday, so any sense of order will be swiftly curtailed on arrival of the 14.34 from St Pancras at Platform 2. After that a lie down on a misty mountain might be even more appealing.
For a selection of petrocosmea, visit the website of Dibleys Nurseries.