Foster Thorpe-Doubble with the families venerable

Foster Thorpe-Doubble with the families venerable

Jade plant still blooming at 125

As it turns out the jade plant in the entrance of TD Repairs blooms more than once every hundred years, or so

As it turns out the jade plant in the entrance of TD Repairs blooms more than once every hundred years, or so; but that doesn’t make its story any less fascinating.

This venerable crassula ovate has been in the Thorpe-Doubble family for over 125 years – that would be eight years before the Town of Ladysmith was a thought in the head of coal baron James Dunsmuir, and a little less than three decades after the sawmill Chemainus grew up around produced its first board-foot.

Foster Thorpe-Doubble, who manages TD Repairs, set the Chronicle straight on a report – phoned in by one of his customers, and believed by an editor whose thumbs are anything but green – that the flowering was a once-in-a-century event.

“It blooms every three or four years,” he told me, nonchalantly, which means their plant may have bloomed more than 40 times in its storied existence.

And Foster’s mother Susan Thorpe-Doubble, who happened by during the interview – set me straight on the notion that their crassula ovate has been given any royal treatment. “It was live or die,” she said.

Indeed, Foster and siblings have been known to ‘break chunks off’ the historic specimen during bouts of horse-play. And there is a strong suspicion that “a rat ate an arm off it 25 years ago.”

“I’ve had really good luck with it,” Susan said. Code for: It’s a miracle the jade plant has not long-since gone to compost.

If and when that final day comes, it’s believed the Thorpe-Doubble’s long-lived horticultural companion has offspring all over the Cowichan Valley.

Growing a descendent is as simple as plugging a branch of crassula ovate into the dirt. Since jade plants don’t need much water, there’s a pretty good chance that will result in a new generation.

So much for the intimation jade plants are as hard to grow as they are to coax into bloom.

Speaking of blooming, and despite Susan’s Darwinian attitude toward house plants, she does have a soft spot for plants in public spaces. Susan, at the behest of her sister Sharon Greer, who moved to the Chemainus area five years ago from Fort McMurray, Alberta, is a member of Communities in Bloom.

The group tends lovingly to plants in public spaces. She and Sharon tend to the plants around Water Wheel Park. .

“They’re always looking for volunteers,” Susan said, “and they do so much to make the town look pretty.”

To contact Chemainus Communities in Bloom email


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