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1st Bird of Paradise tale “doesn’t stand a chance!”

Pennsylvania Bird of Paradise

“Hey, ol‘ buddy! That wimpy looking Bird of Paradise you all grow down in Texas can’t even come close to the ones we grow up here in Pennsylvania! Looky here! Eat your heart out!” [Courtesy photo]



By Dan Bodine



Hee, hee! Tom Fuelmer, and old friend in Pennsylvania, replied to my recent post on Bird of Paradise plants (allegedly) with a photo of the ones they grow there. To give other readers a view of this plant, I’m posting it here (above). Magnificent, no?

He’d mentioned in earlier correspondence couple years or so ago of tall bushes he and his wife had at their home. Wow! I thought. That sure takes the cake compared to the ones I’d posted from our garden here in El Paso! (below right, Mexican Bird of Paradise).

Mexican Bird of Paradise

Well, general handyman plant aficionados (I guess you could call Tom and me), we always bow with a certain reverence to the mysteries of Mother Nature. It keeps our mind unclogged about all the mysteries out there and still walking beside God also.

But I grew up in Cleburne, TX, heart of Johnson County up in the D-FW area. Tall tales are a dime a dozen!

I can still remember as a kid — before one of our visits to relatives in West Texas, say — dad driving all over the county looking for the largest watermelon he could find. Which we took with us to show our “typical” melon “back home!”

But it never worked! I never knew if “they really grew ’em bigger” in West Texas or whether my uncles always were one step ahead of dad and imported the biggest whopper they could find! But Johnson County always lost.

“The first one stretching the truth never stands a chance in Texas” was common parlance in those days.

Tom spent well over a decade in Cleburne himself back in the ’80s and ’90s with a business machine repair business. While I was at the Times-Review, it seems he had half of the downtown businesses in tow.

My first instinct when he sent me the above photo was “Tom spent too much time in Cleburne!”

A quick internet search failed to find a “Pennsylvania Bird of Paradise bush.” Although it comes up with everything else under the sun!

So before posting the photo, I asked for a bit more information about the plant.

As though his conscience was really bothering him (knew damn well it wadn’t; played too many Wednesday night dart games with him once), he ‘fessed up quickly and told me he was pulling my leg.

The bush is really one of the rhododendrons neighbors say were planted at the house when it was built in the ’60s, he said.

A magnificent bush it is, anyway!

No stretching needed!


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  • Desert Dweller | David C. says:

    I like that PA “Bird of Paradise”…never have seen them bloom like that before, and nice to visit. But I prefer our desert forms better to live around.

    June 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm

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