Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

When the Younger B.E. was 10, she determined that she had to have a pair of UGGs boots. I never had heard of the product, but we found a store in Fredericksburg that stocked them, and off we went.

I learned that they are manufactured in Australia, made from sheepskin, but more importantly, I found that they are terribly expensive. My Good Wife and I explained to the B.E. that buying these boots would cover Saint Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, and a good chunk of her Easter present. She said that would be fine.

As I staggered from the store in shock at what we had spent, I noticed an unusual plant by one of the counters. Intrigued by it, I went over for a closer examination. I determined that it could be propagated by slipping one of the fronds, and I asked the store manager if I might have one. Perplexed, she responded that no one ever had made such a request, to which I gently reminded her that her sales drawer had a receipt for what I considered to be a fairly good amount. Immediately she replied, “I’ll get you the scissors.”

In a flash, we were on the road homeward bound with the frond wrapped in a wet paper towel, kindly supplied by the store manager, and the B.E. wearing her new UGGs. I thought, well, it’s only money. Today, all these years later, the UGGs boots have passed into history, but what we have come to know as “the Uggs plant” continues to thrive in a corner of our kitchen. Over the ensuing years, I have learned much about the plant and about UGGs boots.

The boots have become controversial, engaged in an on-going copyright lawsuit with an American firm, and from the perspective of health and sanitation, they have been challenged for the sheepskin interior being a potential breeding ground for mold.

No such problems have arisen for the UGGs plant. I read that the plant’s long, Latin name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, normally gets shortened, for obvious reasons, to “ZZ plant.” It originated in East Africa, and it has grown in popularity in Europe as well as in America. It is an ideal houseplant for someone on a busy schedule, as it requires little attention and makes for a nice presence in a room.

The ZZ plant usually blooms once a year, on no particular schedule. It requires very little watering, and the leaves exhibit a brilliant gloss. Too much water can cause the roots to rot. It also does not like direct or excessive sunlight. Some of the fronds reach three feet in length, and they have thick stems. The leaves are quite waxy, and as the roots can become potbound, they need occasional pruning, if not repotting in a larger container. I have repotted this one three times, but I have not been tempted to start new plants from slips. One UGGs plant is sufficient.   

I am confident that the manager of the shoe store where we purchased the UGGs boots has risen far up the company’s corporate ladder, given her ability to send customers away if not totally happy, at least contented.

By the time we reached home, and I got the frond in water, I had begun to forget the bill for the boots. After the roots sprang forth and I planted the frond in its initial pot, the memory of the bill had faded even further, but all these years later, occasionally I still do think of it. Within our family, however, Zamioculcas zamiifolia will continue to be referred to as “the UGGs plant.”

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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