6.30pm. Yesterday, I sped along to the kitchen to rescue a pan. No smell of burning. But my nose caught a magical perfume, so I knew the flower must be opening. You know how some smells remind you of others – roses, lilac, vanilla, violets? Well, this perfume is totally itself, with no reference to anything else. And it is so wonderful that it really does take your breath away. ‘Oh my….’ is the only response.
And that was just the first whiff. First the corridor filled up, then the sitting room and my office, then the staircase. By nightfall, the flower was fully open, and perfuming the whole house.
This morning, the perfume had vanished. The flower was still open, but even with my nose right next to it, no smell. Now, it’s 6.30 again, and skeins of perfume begin to wind around the house. But there’s been no change in temperature, the sun is as fitful as ever, but there we are. It awaits some astonishingly sophisticated insect, with a perfectly developed ‘nose’ to come and do its pollination best.
I won’t manage with this flower. It will only last until tomorrow, and I have nothing to pollinate it with, but just around the corner, one of its great grandchildren, is gradually opening its tan and pink buds, so I might manage a cross with some of this plant (Epiphyllum ‘Dudley Minor’ as I’ve explained in an earlier blog, though he gave it to me as E. Ackermanii), and see what the progeny is like – I’m still trying to get the perfume into a pink flower, rather than this glorious white/cream.
But the mystery remains, to me at least. How does it know the time?