The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 3, 2014

Your View: Plant inspires hope for recovery

JOPLIN, Mo. — After a family trip to Hawaii in 2000, we were about to depart the Honolulu airport when we bought a package of bird of paradise plant seeds.

We returned to Joplin, planted the seeds and were pleasantly surprised when two came up. Over the next 11 years, we watched the plants develop leaves, but they never bloomed. We were not prepared for the changes that were coming our way and the fate of our bird of paradise plants.

It was a typical Sunday at our house at 2416 Grand on May 22, 2011. We read the paper, had breakfast and thought about yardwork as it was turning into a warm day. Our bird of paradise plant was on the front sidewalk, which was the east side of the house, soaking up the sunshine. My wife went shopping, which was her Sunday ritual, and I started mowing, trimming and getting our 24-foot round pool ready to open.

All our plans changed at 5:44 p.m. as our house was destroyed by the EF-5 tornado, but my wife, our dog Daisy and I survived.

I did not give a thought to the plant on the east sidewalk as a wall had fallen outward and buried the plant. The next several days were a blur and we had pressing problems to deal with, so the plant was forgotten.

On May 30, 2011, volunteers had cleaned the lot, moving the debris to the curb. In the middle of our front yard sat one of the most trashed plants I have ever seen. I realized it was what was left of the bird of paradise plant, so I put it in the back of my vehicle and took it to our daughter’s place where we were living until we found a place.

We finally moved into another house in July of that, and the bird of paradise plant moved with us.

During the next two summers, which were extremely hot, we put the plant under the shade of a tree in our front yard.

By August of last year, it had outgrown the pot we had it in, so we decided to transplant.

We separated the plant into two different pots and moved them to an enclosed sunroom on the south side of our home.

As the plants started to grow, we noticed a different stem coming up, and we thought it might be a bloom pod.

Just after Christmas, the first bloom opened. It has been blooming ever since and now has more pods getting ready to open.

It has taken it 13 years to bloom, but it is a beautiful flower and does resemble the beak of a bird. This plant has taught us to never give up even when things are going wrong.

Joplin is recovering from its darkest hour, just like the bird of paradise plant, and will continue to move forward into the future.

Roy and Bev Winans


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