The big guy was in the family a long time. Over forty years, counting the papa tree that lived in my Mentor living room from a sprig. At the last pot transplant it had to stay on the floor in front of the south window and when someone begged me for it I only feigned sorrow at being such a good sport.
This jade started as a cutting I gave to my brother Mel. He tended to lose interest in plants that needed watering more often than when it rained in Arizona; Jan rescued this puppy from his kitchen sink back in 1976. It lived in the east bay window on Moraine Avenue, and slipped happily back into a south window when we moved here in 1988, where it embarked on a growing mission.
We helped. We kept cats out of the so tempting outhouse by littering. Pine cones, sea shells, prickly debris. Great cat deterrents. When it became dangerously top heavy we supplied the next biggest pot. It was a fixture inside the front door.
One spring it bloomed. Just once. People with ever blooming jade trees gave us advice about moving it outdoors in summer, putting it in the basement. Things they did. Like Mel and the watering, we didn’t have much interest beyond the problem of top heavy and crashing over on an unsuspecting passerby.
We transplanted it last four or five years ago. It took all three of us to manhandle it. It was too big to get to the front porch, so we dealt with the mess right there in the foyer. Tom broke the old pot; he and Jan heaved the old fellow up in the air, I put the new pot under. What a team. We all said we’re never doing that again.
Last spring I gave it a critical appraisal. It liked the new pot and rewarded us with several more inches of height and girth. I concluded it had one last chance of getting through the front door, and sent the Cleveland Botanical Gardens pictures of its magnificence and an offer. They didn’t refuse. We told them it is the Melvin Lytle Memorial Jade. I’ll drop by and take its picture some day.