When I was 5, I was given as a gift, a miniature Ding Dong school Hothouse garden-- it grew watercress. i have no idea what happened to those plants. But when I was a little older, I bought a long windowbox at Kresges on Fordham Road and put it on my bedroom windowsill. In it, I planted Portulacas-- my favorite flowers in the whole world. I loved their cheery colors -- so what if the flowers only bloomed for one day -- they truly were "Moss Roses" and so beautiful!! If I rubbed the petals, their colors came off on my hands-- but I held my breath in awe at the pink ones (double and single) with the red stripes, my Peppermint Colored Portulacas. I would cross-pollinate my Portulacas, cultivate the seed pods and when they were ripe, I would plant the little tiny black shiny seeds and grow even MORE Portulacas. To this day, despite the "forest' growing on my balcony, I still love Portulacas the best!!!
My sister and my mother both had the Horitcultural Hand of Death -- their plants withered and died -- Sis grew some nice-looking Zinnias but was disappointed that they had no scent-- so she put perfume on them -- effectively killing them. Mom would blithely water her plants until they were swimming and then wonder why they died.
My Nonna Lucia was given a gardenia plant in full bloom as a gift-- oh the heavenly scent!! I sadly assume all the blame for over-feeding it. The blooms dropped. My heart sank. About a year later, (we had, sadly, moved from the Bronx) Nonna called to tell me that the gardenia was FINALLY flowering again...
Oh, such memories! I remember Kresge's! I lived on a wonderful block at the end of Freeman Street with cobblestone streets and brick courtyards. It was a sad day when the leases ran out and the city let those neighborhoods deteriorate. I have such fond memories there. We moved to the Fordham Road area before giving up and finally moving upstate. I think the Bronx was a very inspiring place for artists.
I like Portulacas too. So happy to hear the Gardenia survived. I see you are in Virginia now too. Next best thing, I think :-)