Dreams blooming into reality

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anyone who walks through the many trees, shrubs, and beautiful flowers completely surrounding the Bodiford's lawn might think that he or she had just stepped into a little piece of Heaven.

And when it comes to gaining a little piece of immortality, Alma Bodiford of Spring Hill Road near Luverne, has done just that.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, many family and friends gathered at the Bodiford residence while &#8220Miss” Alma presented a new plant, a Confederate Rose, that has been created by and named for her. It's called &#8220Alma's Star,” and is officially known as &#8220almaii.”

Bodiford's Confederate Rose has officially been registered with the Hibiscus Society of America in Houston, Texas, as Hibiscus mutabilis (almaii).

In other words, there is no other plant exactly like it anywhere in the world.

The St. Fiacre Garden Club, of which Bodiford is president, hosted the afternoon's gala event.

&#8220One year, I decided to put all of my (Confederate Rose) cuttings together in a jar, and I rooted them that year,” she explained. &#8220I planted them all in the same hole.”

&#8220The first year, we noticed the shoot had a different bloom on it from anything else we had in the yard,” she said. &#8220And the second year, it did the same thing.”

Noted botanist Dr. Darryl Searcy was on hand to congratulate Bodiford and to explain in further detail just how important this plant is.

&#8220It is essential to get a plant or flower registered when you think you have something novel or unique that would interest the industry,” Searcy said.

&#8220There were forms to fill outŠit's a very iffy process that you'll even be recognized at all,” he said. &#8220The registration guarantees that you have a claim to that flower, and no one else can lay claim to this particular Confederate Rose that belongs strictly to Alma.”

Searcy said that the beautiful flower was a compound cut where the root system had grafted together.

&#8220After three generations, the sport, or ‘mutation,' is now breeding true, although the seed is sterile,” Searcy added. &#8220The leaf and roof cuttings are breeding true and can be used to make new roses of the same kind. This makes this plant very novel in the industry.”

Searcy said that Bodiford was &#8220an ordinary woman who has done something very extraordinary.”

&#8220The ‘almaii' is now a fact,” he said. &#8220Alma had a vision that many of us with a formal education could never have dreamed of, and I was among those doubting Thomas'Šshe sought to make things happen in the face of those who might say it can't be doneŠshe kept that inner faith in her garden, and her persistence has most assuredly paid off.”

The plant itself possesses all the common attributes of a Confederate Rose, with one very major difference. At the tip of a flowering stem appears a bud of usual size, shape and form. When the bud opens to present its petals, there is a bundle of five distinct flowers; four outer ones and a central cluster that produces a bundle similar to a quartered rose.

The flower does not have any fragrance. Any propagation is done by stalk or root cuttings.

Bodiford's garden is full of the H.mutabilis as a result of her continuous cutting, rooting and transplanting.

&#8220This is not your finest hour, Alma,” Searcy said during the presentation. &#8220This is just a minute, a secondŠthe hour is yet to come. We expect a lot more from the Confederate Rose. God bless you for keeping the faith when the rest of us doubted.”

Calvin Bodiford, Mrs. Alma's husband, stood quietly by and smiled as he watched his wife receive her shining moment.

&#8220I am very proud of her,” he said, smiling.

Searcy took it a step further.

&#8220To Calvin, the longsuffering man who believed in his wife and in her dream,” Searcy added. &#8220She couldn't have done it without your support and that of her children.”

&#8220That's true,” Mrs. Alma said, quietly smiling and nodding her head.

She had many people to thank who had helped her and believed in her along the way, among those the St. Fiacre Garden Club, the Covington County Master Gardeners' Club, and the Luverne Garden Club.

Among those included Susan Hagler of Luverne Farmers Cooperative, Kellie Henderson of the Cooperative Farming News, Charles Simons, the cooperative extension agent for Crenshaw and Covington counties, and Fred Wilhelm, who is with the Alabama Gardener Magazine.

&#8220Fred, I don't think you thought I was real when I first called you about all of this,” Bodiford told Wilhelm, with a laugh and a smile.