LORDSTOWN VILLAGE CLERK It's like bloomin' paradise at office

A plant's blue and orange blossoms resemble an exotic bird.
LORDSTOWN -- It helps that most of the employees in the village clerk's office have a green thumb.
"We all love flowers," explains Carol Wells, a 13-year office employee. "Most of us have ponds at home and plant flowers and everything else around the ponds."
A few of them have even brought some of their more unusual plants to decorate the office and lobby on the second floor of the administration building on Salt Springs Road.
"We don't usually buy anything unless it's different," Wells said.
First time in 12 years
The latest successful plant story is a bird of paradise flower that bloomed earlier this month for the first time in 12 years.
The flower, which is native to South Africa, is grown commercially in Hawaii and California in the United States. The plant is so named because its large blue and orange blossoms resemble an exotic bird.
Wells received the flower from her son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Julie Wells of Lordstown, when it was a root ball in a plastic bag. The couple spent their honeymoon in Hawaii and brought the plant back as a gift.
"I got it in March 1992, but it never bloomed until 2004," Wells said.
So far, the plant has bloomed for about three weeks, and could continue to produce flowers for another three weeks, she said. As one section of the petals withers and falls off, a new bloom sprouts in its place, she said.
Wells said she potted the plant at home, but once it started to get bigger, she wasn't sure what to do with it. In the end, she decided to take it into the office, where it could be placed in the lobby with other exotic plants, including a passion plant and a jasmine plant.
When the flowers first appeared, office staffers were a little surprised, she said, because the conditions in the office are not ideal for nurturing a tropical plant.
Greenhouse conditions? No
Wells has done some research on the plant. She found that in cooler climates, the bird of paradise grows best in a greenhouse. That's a far cry from the office conditions, she said, where the lobby temperatures can dip into the 60s, and sunlight comes in through corner windows only certain times during the day.
"Somebody usually comes in at least once a week and waters all the plants, but I think we've fertilized it maybe three times in 12 years," she said. "But you can bet that now we're going to take good care of it."