on a chain
than a card: Hearts on a chain can say
you have the key to my heart. Yeuch.
Say it with
flowers at any time
isn’t Valentine’s Day. You’ve probably noticed. In
fact it’s not anything day. But somewhere it probably
is some kind of day that’s been invented to promote
something or someone for the sake of it.
I’m not sure how many people celebrated, or even
noticed International Talk Like a Pirate Day, on
September 19 last year. Actually, a friend of mine
did. Mind you he does have a propensity toward coming
out with phrases like “Aarrgghh, matey, ’tis a moighty
fine day” anyway. He’s from Indiana, if that helps in
any way to explain his pirate fixation.
I’ve always been a bit cynical about these made-up
kind of days, personally. Having said that, I’m
cynical about most things. I do honestly try to be
fair, and try not to show favoritism in this regard –
I just treat everything with equal disdain.
Annual events nearly as daft as promoting pirate-speak
are rife. Groundhog Day. What kind of nonsense is
that? In the US, the “official” groundhog is kept in
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2 every year,
amid a raucous celebration early in the morning,
“Punxsutawney Phil” as the groundhog is known, is
extricated from his den by his keepers, who are
dressed in tuxedos.
Phil then “whispers” his weather prediction into the
ear of his keeper, who then announces it to the
anxiously-awaiting crowd. Hasn’t the novelty worn off
by now? It sounds like a ceremony created out of sheer
boredom by a couple of drunk college students.
Perhaps the best invented day of all came from South
Park, a somewhat ludicrous and totally accurate adult
cartoon series: Earth Day Brain Washing Festival. This
just about sums these days up.
Even more recognized “days” seem to have a more
commercial bent nowadays. Christmas is all about
buying more stuff by spending money that you haven’t
got in the first place, and Easter revolves around the
wholesale consumption of oversized, overpriced
Even Valentine’s Day has changed significantly since
the distant days of my youth. It used to be an excuse
for you to send an anonymous token of affection to
your secret heart’s desire. You wouldn’t sign the card
– that would be much too crass. If you were feeling
exceptionally lustful, flowers might be delivered, but
again the accompanying card would be anonymous.
These days Valentine’s Day is virtually sponsored by
Hallmark Cards – just another excuse to encourage us
to buy and send more of them, and for companies such
as Interflora to make millions out of expatriates. And
I’m sure that Mother’s Day only exists now to make us
feel guilty and go out and spend squillions on gifts
for our dear old mums. We should be doing this all
year, of course.
It’s time to get back to basics. Why not do something
different for your beloved, when they least expect it?
Forget what day greetings card companies and calendar
manufacturers say it is. What’s even better is that
you can do it with flowers, without it costing you a
There’s a plant that thrives in Phuket that would be
perfect as a gift for anyone you care about – the main
difference is that it’s a bit more subtle than a
Hallmark card bearing the words “Roses are red,
violets are blue” or some such insipid nonsense.
The hearts-on-a-chain vine is just plain cute. You
probably wouldn’t even notice it from a distance, as
all you can see from afar is pink patches among the
leaves. It has a number of alternative names, such as
the Mexican creeper, queen’s jewels, the coral vine,
and even cadena de amor from the Spanish for chain of
love in its original home of Mexico. Thais know this
plant as phuang chomphuu.
These things grow wild all over the island, and appear
suddenly without you even realizing it. An unexpected
splash of pink on an insignificant bush in the corner
of the garden? Probably a hearts-on-a-chain vine
that’s suddenly materialized. I do enjoy a pink bush,
especially when it’s unexpected.
The heart-shaped leaves are about 8 centimeters long,
and are matt green – a bit like mint leaves apart from
the shape. Hearts on a chain couldn’t be a more
accurate name, really. The racemes of flowers are made
from five diminutive petals each shaped like a petite
little heart, there are thousands of them on a plant.
If you want to make a gift of it, don’t uproot it and
wrap it in plastic – plant it. All you need to do is
find a decent-sized example, and prune off a woody
cutting. Put it in some moist potting compost, and
wait. In the early days, it will generally look a bit
But after a few weeks, put it in the ground, in
well-drained sandy soil, keep watering, and wait for
the growth spurt that will inevitably follow. Allow it
to spread out on the groiund and it will be content
enough, but give it something to cling onto, such as a
wire frame or a chain-link fence, and it will launch
itself skywards like a New Year firework.
It does this with a curly tendril at the end of each
chain of flowers. The tendril will coil itself around
anything it can reach. It flowers year-round in the
climate we have here.
The only thing you need to watch is the lower regions
of the plant, once it’s got into the swing of things
in the climbing department. If you don’t cut back the
top outer parts on a regular basis, you’ll find that
the lower sections will get a bit forgotten, and start
to become a little naked. Prune regularly and the
whole thing will stay a healthy-looking green.
we’re allowed to invent days, then my suggestion would
be National Send Bloomin’ Bert Lots of Money Day. Cash
payments would be fine.
reality, forget what day it is. If you want to show
your affections to your loved one on any day, then
“say it with flowers” indeed, but forget Interflora.
For this plan to work, initially you’ll need to pinch
them from your neighbor. Plant and wait, and you’ll be
saying it with flowers for years to come. “Aarrgghh,
matey, ’tis a moighty fine day”.