On Anne’s large bit of property in the city, lies a small glass conservatory where Anne keeps and tends her own personal collection of rare and unusual botanical specimens. Anne and Sylvia share a drink in this small greenhouse. Discussing the matter of Neil Breslyn’s recent exodus from the Breslyn family. The topic, having been exhausted, Sylvia turns her attention to her current surroundings. The glasshouse is small, but it is clean and smells of what could only be described as peat moss. The air is warm and slightly humid, which makes it the perfect haven from the cold night air outside. There are two glass lanterns which are lit, one by the entry way and one in the center of the makeshift plywood table at which they are presently sitting. The modest glow of the two lights is enough to illuminate the entire house and the lights reflect off of the walls of glass. Anne tells Sylvia of her botanical treasures.
By the entryway there is a large shelf of books on the topic of horticulture. The books are worn and seem to have been studied and put to good use. Many have been marked and labeled with the reader’s commentary.
The ground is covered with small gravel stones, which crunch beneath walking feet. The plants in the house sit linearly and tidily on pine plywood tables, which have been built longitudily against the south facing length of the house.
The plants are, at present, separated by their environmental requirements. There is a xerophytes shelf by the entryway bookshelf, on which her collection of cacti sits, obviously thriving. In the back left-hand corner there is a table filled with epiphytes; Orchids of unusual shapes and speckled colors and bromeliads whose flowers resemble the tops of spinney pineapple fruits and long reptilian like patterns showing in shades from the most flamboyant reds to cool purples.
In the center table is the terrestrial collection. This was the largest portion of her collection, as their needs were most conducive to the conditions of her small arrangement. Within this section there was an area for Mediterranean specimens like Salvias, and Olive tree; a woodland portion, which was placed under the tables, on the ground for its low light high, moisture requirements. The untrained eye would not have noticed Anne’s arrangement, but for such a small greenhouse her organization was impeccable, and the health of her collection was proof of that.
Sylvia pretends not to be impressed, but even she can’t help but survey her surroundings with something of a sense of awe.
Unimpressed Sylvia teases….
Sylvia: (walking toward the back of the greenhouse, slowly surveying each specimen)
As pretty as some of your treasures may be, I’m afraid that I can’t beyond the vanity of it all enough to appreciate what you do in here.
Anne: (sharply) It’s not just the look of them that I love, it’s the way they behave and the…
(At a loss, walks to the center table.)
…Well, take this one for instance, a common daisy.
She is very forgiving to poor treatment and blooms profusely for long amounts of time. She is a faithful friend, sturdy and long lived. Most of my colleagues would turn their nose up at such a common thing, but I can’t help but value her for the way she grows…
Sylvia: Alright, now you’re making a bit of sense here miss Anne, go on show us another.
Anne: (Now somewhat bolder) Alright, well this one here is called Sarauma henrii. To be honest with you I didn’t care for him at first, you see he is very subtle. But when I looked closer I noticed many ways that he was unique. Sulfur yellow flower bearing only three petals, perfectly placed atop fine gray green heart shaped leaves. I admit that my notice of him was no love affair, but at the time nobody else had heard of him, let alone grew him So, I imagined that I could make quite a name for myself being the one to introduce him to our little horticultural community.
But he is difficult and stubborn to grow from seed. I must have laid thousands of seeds to sow, but to this day only three have sprouted and grown.
I can tell you today that it has been his stubbornness and indifference to my efforts that have caused me to lust after him all the more, and my inability to master him has made me favor him over most others.
Sylvia: (Quietly musing as she listens)
Oh no Anne! You’re in for one hell of a ride if that that’s the way to win your heart! (Beat)
What about this one here, there MUST be a story behind him?
(Pointing to a small, plain pine.)
Anne: Why do you say that?
Sylvia: Well you don’t keep it around for its good looks I can see that plain…
Anne: (Suddenly serious, Sylvia has discovered the heart of Anne’s collection)
I sowed that seed when my father died.
The seed of this plant must be submerged into boiling water. Next it must be cut with a very sharp blade in a few spots on the outer shell. Then rubbed with very course sandpaper over the entire surface, finally it must be thrown into the fire for just long enough, but not too long.
(Anne takes a large seed from the table top, next to the plant and hand it to Sylvia.)
You see the outer shell is so thick and hard that it is like a stone. The wearing down and breaking of this exterior is necessary so that light, water and earth can to enter into the heart of the seed, because that is where its life will begin.
Sylvia: And I accused you of vanity….
(Pouring a second shot for the two of them)
…shame on me!
(Sylvia raises her glass, as does Anne)
To the language of flowers!