Nietzsche and a Bougainvillea

This picture shows the flower of the bougainvillea. The color of this plant comes from the wonderful leaves, not the small white-yellow flower you can see in this photo.

When we first moved to California and started our garden I was besotted with bougainvilleas. I thought, “How Mediterrean. How exotic! How wonderful!”

In fact, the bougainvillea seems to have originated in Brazil. The plant thrives in climates like the south of France (and northern California), and the French urge to empire was responsible for spreading it around the world in appropriate zones.

That first year, I planted three bougainvilleas I bought at Home Depot. My gardening was in the spirit of Nietzsche’s “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” — my thought was that if the plants had survived neglect at Home Depot, they’d probably do well anywhere.

In fact, I never water the things or do anything to take care of them. It takes a major amount of effort to keep them from becoming a jungle. The thorns on the plant are vicious. I can see now why local gardeners kind of regard the bougainvillea as an alien pest.

On the other hand, this flower and leaves came from one of our original Nietzschean bougainvilleas planted so long ago – and it is beautiful!

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