This is a Story About a Jade Plant Named Lucky

Thursday, July 29, 2021
This is a story about a Jade plant named Lucky. Okay, that's sort of a lie. He never really had a name- I've always called him Grandfather Jade. But it seemed fitting to call him Lucky for this post. Lucky Grandfather Jade has been in my life for over 30 years. Through thick and thin this plant has stood strong, and there's actually a story about where he came from that I want to share with you. 

This post is part of a series called Momma Musings, where I share some of my most intimate thoughts and stories with you. You can check out all of my past Momma Musings here.

Shout out to the lovely Miss Stella, who encouraged me to get going and post this story about my beloved jade. Here it is, Stella!

When I was a teenager, I worked at a beautiful place called Orchard Hill Farm & Greenhouses. It was located in Towaco, New Jersey. It's long since gone, like all good and precious things, but it lives on in my memory and in my jade plant, too. I spent many happy years at Orchard Hill, working after school and all through college. My college was located in the city, so my city friends found it hilarious that I worked on a farm after school (I was a commuter). They affectionately nicknamed me 'Farmer,' and would often scream this across the quad at me between classes (I was proud of the title). Anyway, Orchard Hill was owned by a family (whom I'm still grateful to know). Lola and Ralph were the grandparents of the farm, then there was Russ, Dona, Billy, and Lauren. Jamie and Jen (Dona and Russ' kids) were also a big part of farm stand life (I'll always be grateful for your bacon sandwiches, Jen). 

I learned a lot about flowers, plants and vegetables working at Orchard Hill. I found my jade plant in the greenhouse- it was under a table in a small pot. The details are fuzzy- I remember seeing it there on the floor, but I don't remember if someone gave it to me or if I bought it (we're talking around 1991, maybe?). I can't remember much about how I got it home. But I put it in a funny little pot I had that looked like a desert scene- there was a prairie dog statue next to it, and the "pot" for the plant was supposed to be the prairie dog hole. It grew so fast that I couldn't keep it in the prairie dog hole for long. It started out in my childhood bedroom, when I lived at home with my parents. I don't have any pictures of him then. I wish I did. He was such a cute little thing.

Time passed and I eventually moved to my own apartment. My jade was much bigger by this point, and he sat by a picture window when inside, or on my balcony overlooking a little lake from the 4th floor during the summer months. This is a terrible photo, but it's all I have.

Three years passed and I moved to a townhouse many miles away. My jade came with me (and he wasn't easy to move because he was so large - by now he was in huge pot and quite heavy!). And it was here at this townhouse that I adopted my first dog, Milo, who would become my constant companion and best friend. In this townhome I eventually got married and had a baby. So many life changes with that jade by my side! Have you ever owned a plant like this?? Sadly, Lucky Grandfather Jade became sick here, too- he got root rot (which happens when you overwater). Not wanting to lose Lucky Grandfather Jade, I took a chance and hacked off one stalk of it that seemed to have the most rot. I didn't know if the other half would survive but I had hope. I also made two cuttings of him just in case- which I affectionately named "the offspring." Lucky Grandfather Jade seemed to be okay over time, but he had a scar. I used to tell him he was still beautiful. We all have scars, after all. 

My Milo with the jades (left), Grandfather Jade and his offspring (right)

About ten more years passed (are you keeping track? We are probably at a total of about 16+ years so far) and now I had a husband and baby. We moved to an actual home and the Lucky Jade Family came with us. We've been in our home over ten years now, and my memory of the Jade history has faded a bit. At some point the Jades all caught scale, which is a type of insect that weakens the plants. Scale causes a drippy liquid called honeydew, too, which made the leaves and floor around them sticky and gross. The jades were so big now that it was hard to tell them apart. Two of them succumbed to the scale and I was left with one, the offspring of Lucky Grandfather Jade. But he was strong and happy - I always felt like an energy came off of him if you stood close enough to feel it. I was proud to still have Lucky Grandfather Jade's offspring.

One magical year, I noticed strange bumps on Lucky Jade and I was concerned. I did a quick google search and realized he (she?) was going to bloom flowers!!! I was SO excited! I heard this was a rare occurrence for indoor jade plants (especially in my part of the country). The flowers were SO beautiful- they looked like little stars. 

About a month ago I noticed Lucky Jade looking a little sad- the leaves were light in color and they were kind of droopy (a healthy jade has firm, shiny leaves). I repotted him and brought him back inside for the summer, where he perked up and is doing quite well now. Here comes the real magic of this story. On a whim I went back to look at an old account online that I used to store photos in. It was called Flickr (it was one of the original photo sharing sites, long before Instagram). I was excited to find some of my old jade photos there, along with dates and descriptions of them. SO much time had passed, I forgot all about the account and photos. The one photo of Lucky Grandfather Jade and offspring had a date and description:  "Taken April 6, 2006 - I have had the largest jade in the back for almost 20 years. Last summer it got root rot and I thought it would die. I felt like I was losing a family member! So I made cuttings of it (left), then cuttings of THAT plant (right).  Grandfather Jade survived the rot and now he has two more generations to follow in his footsteps.  I love these plants!  They have their own energy." 

My jades, April, 2006

When I read the description of the photo from 15 years ago, I realized that my memory had failed me. Over time the jades grew to look so similar that I forgot who the original was and the history of where they came from. The jade I had with me right now was the original Lucky Grandfather Jade! Not the offspring! I recognized him right away in the photo. 

I don't know why I confused this- maybe just all of the moves and time passing-  but for years I had forgotten exact details, and I believed it was one of the offspring who had the root rot, the one I hacked apart and who wore the scar (so that's who I thought I was left with). All this time I still had Lucky Grandfather Jade beside me and I failed to realize it. Tracing back to my days at the farm stand (circa 1991), that meant Lucky Grandfather Jade was at least thirty years old. The offspring did not survive the bout with scale, but he did. 

I called up my sister (who also worked at the farm stand during those days) to ask if she remembered anything about the jades and where they came from exactly, since she had one, too, and it was even bigger than mine (hers is monstrous, actually, more like a giant tree. Perhaps if Grandfather Jade didn't get scale and root rot, he would've that big). "Those jades were cuttings from Lola's original plant," she said. I gasped! Lola's plant?! Lola was the grandmother of the farm, and she has since passed away. How long had she had her own jade plant, I wondered? Is there a part of Lucky Grandfather Jade that could be 100 years old, if he originated from Lola's cuttings??? That's a stretch- I mean, for all I know, she bought her original jade in a supermarket. But maybe not. I'm not sure of the answer. It doesn't matter. I'll always believe that he is a magical green being, no matter what. There is a life and energy that emanates from him, and I am so honored to have had him with me for over 30 years, to bear scars right along with him, and to greet the same bright skies every day. Life is a magical thing, isn't it?

my Jade on the left, my sister's gigantic jade on the right!

Post playlist: Honor Him from the Gladiator soundtrack; Memory, from Marco Beltrami's The Giver score; Sprouting Potatoes from The Martian score by Harry Gregson-Williams

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