I have a love-hate relationship with bird of paradise plants. Years ago I blogged about the toils of trimming one of these plants. For some reason, I decided to trim this plant by hand, with hedge clippers. It took hours and my forearms were sore for days. But hundreds of cuts later, the plant was trimmed down to 3" at its base. I had won the battle.
The thing is, though, the plant seems to be winning the war. The bird of paradise in our backyard is back. It’s bigger than ever--eight feet in diameter--crowding neighboring plants out of the way with its beaks.
And yet I am conflicted. This is a beautiful plant. Its petals are full of saturated color: bright orange contrasting with deep purplish-blue. The flower is such an unusual shape, with its pointy petals. The blossoms really do look like birds’ heads, which is fun. I decided this plant would make a fun subject for a costume. Here’s what I came up with:
Below is a close up of one of the flowers I made for my hat:
I already had a green skirt to use, and I created the flowers from fabric and pipe cleaners in my sewing stash. I did spend $2 for the shirt (thrifted), but everything else I used was already on hand.
I wore my costume to my kids’ schools, to stores and around town. People’s reactions gave me an interesting glimpse into the ongoing man-woman-Venus-Mars debate. Today, a bunch of men asked me what my costume was about. The women I passed generally knew that these flowers are birds of paradise. I was honestly surprised how many men didn’t know this flower. Here in San Diego there are bird of paradise plants on every block. They’re everywhere. Plus, its name is easy to remember so I thought everyone knew what it is called. Apparently not, so this seems to be a learning opportunity—for me. I will try not to make so many assumptions about plants (or other things) I think everyone knows.
Want to know a little bit of trivia about this plant? It is native to South Africa. The plant is very drought-tolerant. I should know—ours grew back with a vengeance with absolutely no water or encouragement from me. Birds of paradise are associated with liberty, magnificence and good perspective.
It was fun to wear my hat today because it casts quite a dramatic shadow. I think the shadow of my flowers looks a lot like the shadows of the actual plant.
Well, our lesson on birds of paradise needs to draw to a close. I have 1,000 things to do before bed so my birds and I are off. Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next Wednesday with more creative fun…