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An amazing flower – Christ in a cradle

On this earth there are amazing things. God, who created and sustains the cosmos, has created many and varied types of flora and fauna. Consider the plant kingdom. Think about the variety of plants, the sizes of plants, the varying needs of plants to grow. Some folks take great pleasure in growing plants. We say they have a green thumb. I’ve never had much success growing plants. Neither fruit, vegetable, nor flower yield to my heroic efforts to bring forth much food or many blossoms.

While my efforts at growing plants leaves much to be desired, I was happy to learn about a couple who had grown a very unusual flower, indeed. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were invited to the country home of Pat and Mary Greene in Harbin Hill Estates to observe an amazing occurrence. A number of other guests were there also.

Something amazing was about to take place that night. Sometime later in the night the flower on the plant would open in bloom for the one and only time for the year. As the night grew darker, we gathered around the plant to observe and photograph it after it bloomed. The suspense was high but soon the flower opened into a beautiful white many-petaled beauty. An approaching thunderstorm cut short our flower watching.
I snapped a picture of the blossom just before it opened into its lovely bloom. Nina Wills, a college senior from Florida, who was visiting her aunt Mary G. Grindstaff, got an excellent picture after the flower had bloomed. A before and after photo is shown at the end of this column.
I learned that the plant is a cactus of the genius cereus. It goes by several names. I’ve heard it called Christ in a Cradle or Star in a Cradle. It is also called Cradle in a Manger, Christ in a Manger, Babe in a Manger and Star in a Manger. It is a very interesting plant. The names are derived from interpretations of the image seen inside the opened flower. Not only is the flower beautiful, it emits an pleasing sweet aroma as well.

It’s the first time I had seen a flower like it and I was impressed. The plant itself is not impressive. The flower grows at the end of a dull looking stem. The stem has very small “petals” about an inch apart. Those petals grow to form leaves along the stem.
The Greens say they have had the plant about 15 years, but it started blooming only after it was planted outside and that was four years ago. Well, that night-blooming flower has shown forth its beauty for this year. It’ll be another summer night in 2011 before it will change again into a beauty of nature.