Like John Fortune in China, like John Tradescant in Russia, I will gladly cross faraway lands in search of plants. Last week, I went on just such a mission. At Grand Street Gardens, I obtained several cute Peperomias and an Auracaria araucana (a.k.a. Monkey Puzzle Tree). Emboldened by success, I threw caution to the wind and ventured south from my kingdom, into that lawless wasteland, The South Suburbs.
Forging through an ocean of K-Marts, subsisting only on Portillos, I finally arrived at my destination: the Black Gates of Ted's Greenhouse. It is appropriate that this unholy garden center be located in Tinley Park, for Tinley Park is a godless and inhospitable backcountry, providing the perfect protection for Ted and his minions. Yes, I have returned from this journey with plants, and with the truth of the matter: Ted is guilty of witchcraft most foul.
Ficus rubiginosa 'Variegata'
"Alright, what are you talking about," you ask. I will tell you. They are just too good. Their level of expertise may be partially explained by green thumbs and horticultural degrees, but at least part of it has got to be Black Mass. Not only does this greenhouse grow FOUR kinds of passionflowers, including a PINK one, but they have got fruit. FRUIT! Upon this observation, I basically ran around until I found an employee, and made him look too just to be sure I wasn't crazy. No, he explained, those dozens of juicy, perfect orange spheres really were passion fruit. But, he continued, they are empty fruits because we don't have the correct pollinators in this area. He grabbed one off the vine and opened it for me to see... it was totally hollow. That's when I really began to suspect that Satan was involved.
I saw many other plants which confirmed this suspicion. They have got variegated things there that... well... just SHOULDN'T be variegated. Their cactus and succulent department has shelves marked "Not For Sale," and the plants on those shelves are CLEARLY the product of the Dark Arts.
Obviously I could not resist the pink passionflower, ficus, or pachypodium. I also brought home a really amazing lithops, a stapelia hirsuta, some hard-to-find abutilons, and a gorgeous grevillea robusta. Another employee told me a wonderful story about the days when grevilleas were a popular holiday plant. Before poinsettias were improved to their modern state, grevilleas were used to fill the middle of circular plantings of poinsettias to obscure their legginess. Nice try, guys. You may have sold holiday poinsettias, but I think at this point we all know that you were acutally celebrating WIZARD SABBATH.
I'm lucky I escaped with my soul... and all these awesome plants.