Hundreds of Berkeley gardeners, topiary stylists, organic produce micro-farmers, and aficionados of heirloom tomatoes have been hiking and biking up Centennial Drive to visit my alma mater’s Botanical Garden. Where do all the sandal prints lead? To the greenhouse, of course: a foul-smelling giant misshapen penis plant is blooming.
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Carolyn Jones has the story. [Carolyn Jones? Boy, that takes me back. Gomez: “I’m quite proud of Mrs. Addams’ hothouse. She’s raised these plants from tiny weeds.”]
Jones quotes Berkeley gardener Gary Cromp—he’s the guy in the accompanying photo who appears to be wearing a hand-woven, fair-trade Peruvian hat decorated with filamentous fungus. Check it out; you’ll be seeing them in Whole Foods next month.
“Watching these plants bloom—I’ve made it my life’s mission,” he said. “I am obsessed.”I won’t argue with that. Besides, the Dead don’t play much since Jerry died so traveling cross-country from one botanical garden to another to sniff penis blossoms is a good way to fill one’s days.
Ms. Jones makes Berkeley’s specimen sound like a tranny: “the frilly skirt of the flower was 34 inches wide and its central phallus was nearly four feet tall.” To underscore the point she provides this quote:
“It’s very masculine and very feminine at the same time,” said visitor Yoni Mayeri of Orinda.Yoni? Where does she find these people? Oh, right—it’s the Bay Area. [“Yoni, I’d like you to meet Bob Lingam—he’s from Moraga and teaches a Tantric sex workshop at Esalen.”]
Sigh. They’re really rather ooky.