I had great respect for the man, who wrote a syndicated gardening column as a sideline. He was a mentor in every sense of the word.Thirty years into my career, his lessons were still helping me professionally.
I couldn't say to him, "that is the ugliest thing I've seen in a long time," even if politeness had not been drummed into me as a child. Had I done that, my grandmother would have risen from the grave and schlonked me on the head not unlike Little Bunny Foo Foo and the field mice.
I took the plant home.
My housemates also deemed it one of the ugliest plants they'd seen, but we followed his instructions and within days it had blossomed into a beautiful red flowering plant.
Many years at Christmas I will get an amaryllis, never when it is had bloomed, but when it is still ugly for the pleasure or watching the metamorphosis.
This year I bought them for our neighborhood mamies (the old women of the village who share their wisdom with me) and one for myself. Theirs were red: mine was the white. I'd never had a white one.
I started posting its development on Facebook, or should I say lack of development, Day 1 morphed into Day 15 and nothing.
Finally, it started to show its true beauty.
There was one day when its progress was marked by hours when each time I walked by the table, it had exposed a bit more of its petals.