Generations of memories through family cactus

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This is a story about a Christmas Cacti.

I have long admired the green thumb of my great aunt Carol Sandulak prevailing through her mammoth Christmas cacti.

We often take notice of fine China and antique furniture passed down through the generations, but what about the plants!?

Here is a story of a Christmas Cacti that sprouted from an outstanding seed sometime before 1912. The original small plant was taken on a great immigration journey via ship from Ukraine 106 years ago with Yustina and Alex Sandulak. Carol was one of a few family members that received a clipping from the cacti immigrant, yet after she allowed it a day outside to bathe on a dull misty day while she was away – the sun came out to shine and shrivelled it beyond recovery.

The Christmas cacti now thriving in her north living room window was adopted for rehabilitation from Yustina’s daughter Doreen over 30 years ago and continues to thrive, as Doreen was ready to give up on hers and Carol was eager for a second go at the beautiful pink bloom rewards.

Since 2010, Carol has faithfully ticked a mark on a small little notepad for each bloom fallen to her immaculately clean, fluffy cream carpet.

2010/2011 – 638 flowers from Oct 20-June 11

2011/2012 – 615 flowers from Nov 12-July 5

2012/2013 – 1493 flowers from Nov 6-June 24

Since that year the bloom count has declined and in 2017/2018 she has only counted 495.

Just this last autumn, by popular demand of the dearest three men in her life – Joe, Terry and Alex, they underwent the great endeavour of transplanting the blooming beast into a 21” pot with some debugged fresh soil from the garden.

After regenerating its strength and standing tall once again after the transplant, the Christmas cacti faithfully began to bloom again on November 28th, 2018 and since – 85 blooms have fallen to the carpet to diligently be remembered and counted.

I am thrilled to have received a clipping from my ancestor’s plant and I shall do my best to nurture its growth. I wonder if her cacti shall succeed itself in its greatest ‘blooming’ year… Or if my humble clipping of the great one shall ever come close to such bountiful blooming.

Let us not underestimate the value of a small seed, and the journey of its roots, perhaps they follow the very roots of your own family.

I challenge you to research the ideal environment for the plants you are near to give up on, and to remember when their beauty was just the thing your home needed…and give that dusty old survivor another chance to become more than you could imagine. If you ask a few questions you may discover that those roots go further than you thought, and perhaps they are a little bit of grandma and grandpas story too.

Written by, Carol & Joe Sandulak’s great-niece – Heidi Grant.

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