Blooming Elephants

Published 3:26 am Monday, June 5, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
Atmore resident Melanie Appleton loves flowers, but dismisses the thought of having a green thumb like her late grandfather, J. T. Taylor.
"Papa was always featured in the newspaper for his pumpkins," Appleton said. "Everybody knew him from that and him going to the Farmer's market in town to sell them. He was always growing something."
Taylor was featured more than 25 years ago in The Atmore Advance for one of his many gardening surprises. He was photographed with an Elephant Ear plant that towered him and boasted numerous blooms.
Appleton kept a copy of her grandfather's picture and was shocked when her husband, Matt announced to her that the elephant ears located in their West Oak backyard was blooming.
Appleton's excitement was the result of being told by her grandfather that the Elephant Ear plant only blooms about every 50 years.
"That is why he was in the paper all those years ago," Appleton said. "I called Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile to see if they could tell me and they agreed that it was a rare occurrence for the plant to bloom happening infrequently. The lady I talked with told me that they had some at Bellingrath for 25 years and they had never bloomed during that time."
Appleton and her husband purchased the Oak Street home one-year ago and said that the plant was there when they moved in.
"We have been here a year," Appleton said. "The house was built in 1969 and I have no idea if the plant was planted then or years later."
Nonetheless, Appleton is as proud as she can be and knows that her late grandfather would be just as proud of the flowering wonder.
The Elephant Ear also known as the Giant Alocasia or Macrorrhiza has huge upright, glossy dark green leaves with pale green veins and rigid stems. The growth rate during the summer months can be quite astonishing, growing up to six-feet tall.

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