The third Tuesday of every month from September to June is Garden Club night and this past week our Garden Club invited Rick Peckham of Peckham's Greenhouses in Little Compton, RI to speak to us about houseplants. January is a time of indoor gardening in RI since the landscape is usually frozen and white. Rick is a fifth generation plantsman full of plant wisdom, personal experiences with plants (he said he has killed many), and he is a very nice guy. His greenhouses are packed with treasures. He brought many with him and some special, less common plants were among the group. He spoke eloquently and knowledgeably about the plants and my ears always perk up when I hear 'This plant thrives on neglect'. So it was that I came to covet the plant whose common name, The Queen's Tears, evokes a bit of sadness. No queen should cry, after all. This plant's botanical name is Billbergia nutans and it is part of the Bromeliaceae family. The common name refers to the fact that when the plant is in flower the flowers exude a bit of nectar which falls when the plant is moved. This plant is in flower and it does look quite regal but I have yet to see any tears. Native to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, Billbergia is an epiphyte attaching itself to trees and gathering moisture and nutrients from the air around it. There is little moisture in the air inside my home in the middle of winter but Rick assured me that this plant needs little attention. It is adapted to the light levels of a rain forest although the light levels are low here in New England in winter even in the brightest of spots. I am not sure if it was the pink bracts which attracted me or the navy blue striping on the edges of the flower petals offset by the pollen on the anthers. The flowers are small and must be seen up close to be fully appreciated. I am hoping it lives up to its reputation as a vigorous, easy to grow houseplant. As an added bonus, this plant produces many offshoots which can be passed on to other gardening enthusiasts. Only time will tell but for now, this plant is helping to stave off the winter blues. It is a nice addition to the other plants wintering on the table by the window. Do you have any plants which help you avoid the nature deficit of the winter months?