the plant

Ava wanted a venus fly trap. Not really sure why, she just really wanted one. I told her she could have a one when she filled her marble jar. A jar tracking good behavior and thoughtful acts. The simplest of recognition paths, marble by marble.

It took her about a month and half when she finally reached the top of the jar. Marble after marble carefully chosen and dropped into the small jar on the window sill. Marbles of all shapes and sizes, each swirled in a unique swirl of color.

She finally achieved her goal, so I told her we’d go out to a nursery in Half Moon Bay where they specialized in such things. Late Saturday afternoon, we hopped in the car and drove over the hill towards the ocean.

As we rounded the last curve, and a large sign rose up to our left. A banner in red letters spelled out “Carnivorous Plants” which marked the store known as “World’s Rare Plants“.

The girls ran into the greenhouse, breathless with excitement. It was full of wondrous things. Venus fly traps were everywhere decorating a variety of planters. Each plant possesses a set of finely tuned hairs designed to detect a meal when touched. Groups of Pitcher plants shared the same pots and ranged in sizes from tiny to extra-large. Deceptively beautiful, they lure their prey with sweet nectar, only to have the insect fall down the slippery neck into a pool of water at the base of the plant. Sticky sundews and Butterworts dotted other parts of the greenhouse. Octopus-like, Sticky Sundews slowly wrap tentacles around their prey. The Butterwort’s gluey leaves are simple but effective in ambushing tiny insects.

A small fairyland surrounded by carnivorous plants adorned the back of the store. Not sure if I’d want to live in a town surrounded by carnivorous plants, but the small clay fairies don’t seem to mind.

A small room to the right was full of giant Pitcher plants. Mia yelled, “Momma, don’t go in there!” She thought one of the plants would eat me.

When Ava was ready to choose her plant, we engaged with one of the friendly staff. She gave specific plant care instructions and an education the plant behavior. It turns out Venus Fly Traps are opportunistic hunters, so if an insect flies into the trap, they will take advantage of it. However, what they really need to survive is a lot of direct sunlight and ample filtered water.

Ava listened intently and then picked the plant she liked best. Her plant already had a small mosquito clenched in its’ jaws. It seemed like a good choice.

The lady handed us a set of instructions and we were on our way.

In addition to the carnivorous plant greenhouse, there was a long line of other greenhouses to explore. So, we wandered over to the Succulents greenhouse. Dozens of  cacti and succulents lined the wooden tables;  some were arranged artfully in colorful pots.

Ava struck up a conversation with lady at the desk. She asked questions about the plants and talked about her new Venus Fly Trap. Mia walked up and down the aisles appreciating all the interesting shapes and beautiful colors.

In another one, Ava ran deep into the tangle of trees and bushes flourishing under the warmth of the dusty glass. I must have missed a conversation Ava had with one of the employees because when we left, Ava asked when she would be sixteen. I told her ten years, to which she replied, “I want to get a job here!” Definitely a newfound interest, enjoying her education at the greenhouse. My six-year-old botanist.

We ended our visit out in the gardens. Dozens of bright blooms were punctuated by the brilliance of the sparkly green and blue glass. Seashells joined the simple mosaic. The girls sat down and studied each piece, enjoying the late afternoon sun.

It was an unexpected visit full of education and beauty. Killer plants surrounded by the peace of a magical garden; a winning combination for my girls.

We’ll definitely come back to explore another day.

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