When Bert gets interested in something, he really goes all out. He’s been this way since primary school. I remember because of that time he refused to put away his bum bag full of marbles during the infamous marble craze of 1996. It exploded during PE, Francine Bickleton slipped on a galaxy bonker and broke her arm, and Bert was suspended for two weeks. I think the suspension was supposed to send a message about the dangers of marbles, but it just sent their popularity skyrocketing even further.
Anyway, now that he’s a responsible adult, Bert’s preferred object of obsession is plants. More specifically, it’s whatever plant he is currently experimenting with growing in pots on his verandah. Week to week, that could vary from rare cultivars of a given genus to plants from two separate families that share a trait from a common ancestor.
It might be more accurate, I suppose, to say that his obsession is botany, although it seems to manifest as him waxing lyrical about the specifics of his own specimens for hours on end. It does get confusing for a less botanically inclined listener, though – like, instead of saying ‘seaside daisies’ like a normal amateur gardener, he’ll refer to Erigeron karvinskianus and launch off into the next sentence at such speed that it’s hard to backtrack and get a common name ID.
This week, the hot topic is lesser known members of the solanaceae family, including a rare calibrachoa hybrid and a flowering brugmansia tree. It’s pretty interesting, I guess, knowing that these are related to potatoes and tomatoes. Bert reckons the brugmansia is highly poisonous, which is funny because the tag from the nursery has its common name as Angel Trumpets. That, according to Bert, is why it’s always best to use the botanical name.
In any case, I’m just waiting for his proverbial bum bag to bust open and spill proverbial marbles all over the proverbial basketball court.