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July Calendar Picture

July 1, 2011

One of the classic potted plants to be put outside for the summer and overwintered indoors: Oleander.

One of the few things that bother me about the English language is that there doesn’t seem to be a direct translation for the German ‘Kübelpflanze’ (litterally, ‘bucket plant’), which means a plant in a (large) pot that’s put outside for the warmer months, and taken inside only during the winter. Not a houseplant for which a ‘summer vacation’ outdoors is optional, but something that needs to go outside, that belongs outside, and is only dragged inside with much cursing at its weight and the lack of a place to properly overwinter it when frost threatens.

In any case, Oleanders are the ‘Kübelpflanze’ to me, the one everyone has and everyone sells. This particular one was one of my parents’, one of many plants to be given away when they got divorced and sold the house. I can’t say for sure where it came from, but I believe that it came from Sardinia, which was our default holiday destination for many years during my childhood, and where oleanders grew everywhere in the little village where we always stayed. We definitely brought back other plants from there, plants we dragged in every autumn and out every spring, cursing as they grew heavier each year.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2011 21:39

    I don’t know if it’s really the same idea but we call plants like that “patio tropicals” where I’m from. I don’t normally like white flowers but white oleander really are lovely. I also love how so many of them smell like marshmallows.

  2. July 1, 2011 21:47

    I guess that expression comes close but is still not totally accurate because most ‘Kübelpflanzen’ are mediterranean rather than tropical.
    Speaking of mediterranean plants, going to Italy in three weeks!

  3. July 2, 2011 04:18

    Most of the things we call tropical aren’t REALLY tropical, it’s things like oleander and spanish lavender, rosemary, citrus, and even a fair number of things that are temperate but can’t survive -30ºF like japanese maples and assorted bamboo species. So I guess it’s not really all that close. Language is strange like that though. I’ve always admired the German languages ability to be so practical and literal.

    • July 2, 2011 10:46

      I think that in every language there are things that you can express really well, and others that don’t work at all. My big problem with thinking in English a lot is that I often start a sentence and then realize that this sentence would only work in English, but not in German. Like, you can say, ‘something doesn’t make sense’ in German, but you can’t say, ‘somebody doesn’t make sense’, and have to use a much more complicated sentence to get your point across. Or laughing – I noticed this as a kid, reading Harry Potter, there are so many words for laughing/giggling… some people laugh, and others snigger, guffaw, chuckle, chortle, giggle, titter, and there are probably more I can’t remember. In German, you pretty much only have lachen (laugh) and kichern (giggle), and have to use adverbs to describe how exactly people are laughing.
      Haha, I could really go on and on about this topic!

  4. July 2, 2011 15:25

    German speakers are just too efficient for chortling 😉 I tend to have similar problems with spanish though…but that might just be because I haven’t learned enough!

    • July 3, 2011 11:46

      On the other hand, Austrian German has a lot of words for ‘to whine’ that I can’t accurately translate into English – raunzen, sudern, bitzeln… – if the number of words for a certain topic shows what’s important to a culture, that doesn’t say nice things about Austria! 😉

  5. July 3, 2011 22:56

    hahaha! That’s pretty funny. I once heard that one of the native tribes in the area I grew up had something like 10 different words for all the assorted types of snow. I can’t even imagine 10 different types of snow…

    • July 3, 2011 22:57

      But now looking it up it turns out that it’s actually the Sami up in Scandanavia, not any of the Native American tribes.

  6. MAARIA permalink
    January 9, 2014 21:34

    IS IT POISONOUS IT IS BEAUTIFUL

  7. MAARIA permalink
    January 9, 2014 21:35

    i Wnt a red oleander but the white is beautiful is it poisonous?

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