Sunday, February 12, 2017

Buy it Here: Plants

It is tempting to tell you that my students are my pride and joy.  While it is certainly true that I love them dearly - you know this already if you've read my blog for any length of time - there are also days when I want to smack them around a little.  They're kids, after all - they sometimes do dumb things.
My orchid, on the other hand...  I've had my orchid longer than most of my students, and although they are supposed to be persnickety flowers, it's never caused me any problems.  It blooms on and on, and when it loses it's flowers, all I have to do it be patient and water it, and eventually it puts out a new vine and blooms again.  So, it's possible that I might say my orchid is my pride and joy.

I never considered myself to be much of a green thumb.  I like plants and flowers...I've just never been that successful at...you know...keeping them alive. When I was in elementary, I remember my paternal grandmother - who could grow moss on sand, I swear - supplying me with various green things to grow.  I invariably killed them.  In middle school, my dad - an avid gardener, occasionally to my mom's consternation, as she was not an avid canner - let me attempt to plant rose bushes and irises, neither of which ever bloomed.  In high school and college I bought bonsai trees off the back of trucks at gas stations, and regardless of whether or not my cat managed to pee it them, they slowly dried up and died.  In fact, the only plants I recall keeping for any length of time were the lilies that lived in my fishbowl in Shanghai - they had water to drink and fish poop for fertilizer.  I really had nothing to do with them, and even they always kicked the bucket in the end.
So when I "borrowed" one of the ivy plants around the school my first month in Mongolia to put in my window seat, a betting person would have placed odds on it dying.  Certainly I felt a little bad, taking a plant from school knowing it would probably not be alive when it came back.  But four and a half years later, it has managed to grow longer than Rapunzel's hair.  In fact, I've managed to keep quite a few plants alive - not all of them, because I do travel and they get abused quite a bit, especially during the summer.  My first orchid, for that matter, only lasted a year.  However, I've never felt like I needed an air purifier, even in the worst months of UB smoke, because my plants were producing oxygen for me.

So this week I'm bringing you all the information* on growing your own oxygen supply.  The first place I actually found plants for sale was in Builder's Square - my first year Five and I went to the UB Art Fair at the Zanabazar Museum, and while waiting for the museum to open found a variety of tents and greenhouses.  I've seen them up on occasion since then, but not always, so if you're dying for something green at home, this might not be the place to go.
The Flower Center is a UB landmark (or at least, that's what some of the other teachers told me when I came...they may have been full of crap, though, since I've never used it to give directions or to meet up with someone).  Situated at the western intersection of Peace Avenue and Baga Toiruu (and right next to a Burger King, which coincidentally occupies half of the Flower Center's former glory), they mostly sell silk and cut flowers, although they have a few potted plants as well. 
Inside the Flower Center

As always, the State Department Store has a little bit of everything, and plants are no exception.  The vast majority of what they sell is cut flowers, although last summer I picked up pots and soil here, and I've bought plants before as well.  Most everything is on the first floor in the corner by the Cinnabon, although there are more pots upstairs if the ones downstairs don't appeal.
The State Department's flower department

The best place to go, though, is on the opposite corner from the Children's Park, on Narnii Road and Olympic Street.  Nomin Soyolj has potted plants, pots, soil, seeds...everything you need to grow your own rainforest, except possibly the rain.  Sorry, rock fans, I have no pictures because I was lazy yesterday (and, you know, pretty much all winter long...)  If you look it up on Google Maps, it will be the first result, classified as building materials.  Just look for the greenhouses.

Well, that's all for this week - I gotta wrap this up and get downstairs to Dougie-Poo's apartment for dinner.  His lovely wife is making Thai food and we haven't had a good chat in a long time.  Next week will >probably< be the long-awaited art post...we'll see if Five and I come up with something better to do...

*Rough approximation.  Probably not accurate.

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