My late husband, Mike, spent much of his childhood in Dakar, Senegal, which is located at the far left tip of Africa. His parents were missionaries and they worked with the local orphanage as well as the school that taught the children of those serving in the mission. This was one of the greatest times of Mike's life. He loved Africa and considered it home.
When we first started dating, he talked of the beautiful bougainvilleas that would line the fences and walls of the city. He told me it was his favorite flower and he was sad because you couldn't grow them here in our climate.
Well, I am the daughter of an avid gardener and I knew that you could grow them because my mother had. True they are not hearty and you often have to replace them each year unless you put forth the time and effort throughout the fall and winter to keep them safe.
The year we got married, I bought Mike one that we put in a large planter on our back deck. It was glorious full of lovely pink flowers all summer and part of the fall. When it got cold, we put it under the deck.
The next year as a new widow, I went to retrieve it, but sadly it did not make it either. I told a friend about it and she surprised me with one. It only had a few blossoms, but it was pretty. I put it in the planter and cared for it faithfully. The blossoms dropped off. Throughout the summer, the bush would only produce a few flowers, not the cascade of the plant the year before.
I was sad and so was the bougainvillea, maybe it sensed my melancholy. Until now, I've been scared to buy another one. I just couldn't handle another temperamental plant, but I'm ready to try again.