Last spring I went on an extended vacation to Costa Rica for three weeks. I asked a neighbor to water my plants to avoid returning to a house full of dead plants. For the most part, my neighbor did an adequate job; however, a few plants were overlooked, one plant was dead, and one was moved into the ICU. Much to my disappointment, the plant needing serious intensive care was the Camellia sinensis that I had been nurturing for two years since purchasing it at a garden show in Portland.

Until that point, it had never occurred to me that I could grow a tea plant indoors; but I was delighted by the discovery and eager to give it a try. The first year I was rewarded with a few flowers and I even moved the plant to a larger pot the following spring. Everything was looking great until I returned from my trip. If it had been any other plant, one easily replaced, I suspect I would have thrown it away as it really appeared to be dead. There were a few smaller leaves that weren’t brown, but for the most part, it was frankly hard to look at. One entire stalk had to be cut down and the remaining few looked quite pathetic.

As the weeks went by, I had reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, the plant wasn’t dead. Although it kept dropping leaves, there were a few green leaves holding on. Finally, it was time to leave the ICU and return to its place by the kitchen sink. Despite the relocation, I learned to avoid looking at the plant, only taking notice of it when I watered it. It was not pretty.

About a month later, I saw a new stalk and felt a remarkable surge of excitement. The plant was still looking sad, but as new growth was emerging; I was encouraged. I decided to take care of some basic grooming in an attempt to help it look a bit less pathetic, although I can’t say it did the trick. About a week ago, however, I noticed what appeared to be flower buds and couldn’t quite believe my eyes. I came down this morning and found two flowers proudly smiling at me. I’m inspired by the strength this little plant has shown. No wonder it’s a powerhouse of health and healing. Perhaps I’ll be able to harvest some tea from it one day down the road. Wonders never cease.