Hauling Enormous Plant Requires Advance Strategy

Giant canna lily looks great in my foyer after major production to get it there

Houseplants have always been a struggle for me—a physical one, in the purest sense. But like most people’s, my desire to grow houseplants has more to do with enthusiasm than sensibility. There was ample evidence of this a few years ago when I decided that a gigantic pot of canna lilies would make the perfect—if not completely impractical—addition to my home.

The lilies looked spectacular at the greenhouse. The more I envisioned them in my foyer, the more I needed to have them. The more I needed to have them, the more possible getting them home seemed.

The plastic pot that contained the cannas was filled with lightweight soil, yet the combined weight of the plant, soil, and pot was remarkably heavy—about 136 kilograms (300lbs). Thankfully, dollies and forklifts made getting the massive assembly into a van and to my house easy. The situation upon arrival was another story.

Now I don’t have a run-of-the-mill house. In fact, it’s been referred to (lovingly) as a sugar cube with skylights, but it’s these skylights that allow me to grow plants. No, the challenge wasn’t getting the cannas to grow in my home. The challenge was getting the cannas into my home.

California roll

For some reason, the previous homeowners built with the “California look” in mind. The result was a 13-flight, concrete staircase that begins at the sunken driveway and ends at the landing.

Now, I wasn’t crazy enough to think I could get the pot up the stairs, but I did sell myself on an alternate path. Instead of having to navigate 13 concrete steps, all I had to do was make my way up a not-too-steep slope that ran adjacent to the steps. Drastically different terrain, same endpoint.

Quite satisfied with both myself and my luck, I slid the giant canna onto my wheeler and gently rolled it down the ramp of the van.

Oh, did I mention it was the middle of November? Now seems like a good time.

Winter woes

So it’s November, and I’m slipping and sliding (giant canna in tow) up the ice-covered walkway to my front door. The entire ordeal left my upper body drenched in sweat and my lower body (primarily my rear end) drenched with snow, a souvenir from the numerous times I fell.

When I arrived at the small concrete ridge separating the walkway on the left from the 13 stairs on my right, I put the grip of death on the pot and eased it over the bump.

But because I was due for a life lesson, the pot rolled off the wheeler, bounced down each of the 13 stairs and ploughed into my garage door.

Try, try again

I swore the entire walk down to the driveway. As angry as I was, I was grateful that neither the pot nor the canna was damaged. So, like a trooper, I slid the pot onto the wheeler and repeated the move—same slippery slope, same sweat, same wet rear end. The only difference was that this time I knew what could happen. So this time, when I got to the tricky spot, I planted my feet, pulled the pot as tight to the wheeler as humanly possible and eased the rig over the bump.

You’d think that would have done it; yeah me too, so you can imagine how funny I didn’t find it when the pot bounced back down the stairs.

As the canna meteored downward, the pot separated from the soil mass, I suppose much like a booster rocket drops off the space shuttle.

The pot, it hit the concrete wall; the huge mass of soil, my car.

Canna you believe it?

Disbelief? Anger? Stupidity? –you pick, but one of them had me at the base of the stairs, muscling soil back into the pot and giving it one last go. This time I used my body as a shield to stop the canna from rolling into the abyss. And this time, it worked!

As I triumphantly threw open the front door and flashed my crazed smile at my startled wife, I prepared to wheel my prize into the house. It really was too bad that the pot was wider than the door.




Happy indoor gardening!


A slightly different edit of this story ran in the December 7, 2006 issue of the Edmonton Journal.