My neighbor has a yard that is to die for. Everything is just perfect and neat, always trimmed and never a stray limb from a tree to be found. Maintaining his of lush lawn, heavenly perfumed flowers, and graceful shrubbery requires diligence, time and a great deal of physical effort. And it almost killed him, literally. He suffered a heart attack while uprooting a small juniper the other day.
I didn’t know what happened to him until this afternoon when I noticed it was his wife out dead-heading the flowers and pruning a few branches here and there. Normally her husband is out and about doing these tasks while humming some piece of classical music. Naturally I asked after him and she told me he had suffered a massive heart attack while tending to the dying juniper.
Because I wasn’t home I didn’t hear the ambulance come to scoop him up and whisk him away to the hospital. Because I was out the following day I didn’t get a chance for our friendly chats about how the welfare of my plants.
The cardiologist told her that whatever he was doing in the way of yard work had to stop. Gardening should be calming and soothing and yes even healing. The need for perfection and order was creating too much stress, add to the mix heavy manual labor in an older person and, according to the cardiologist, you have all the ingredients for the perfect storm of a health crisis.
My yard is not one to die for. The grass is cut and edged, he flowers are cared for, but not dead-headed. I like the way the branches from my small tree are randomly poking about here and there. In other words I will never win a medal for a perfect oasis of a yard, but I also will get to enjoy my yard without working gardening myself into an early grave. Nature provides her own version of perfection and we have a small agreement about this. Nature agrees to help me with the watering (I’ve been known to forget this stuff) with I keep the lawn cut and let her do her own brand of artistic expression.
My grandmother used to keep plants and candles on her windowsills. My mother kept seedlings on hers until they were ready to be planted in the ground. A few of the much orders ladies I knew growing up kept powder on their windowsills, to keep the haints away. These ladies always had yellow trim on their windows to ward off the haints as well.
But me, I apparently seek the not to grow life nor to ward off those who have passed over. You see friends I keep dinosaurs on my windowsills. I didn’t start out with a plan to keep dinosaurs on my windowsills. Actually I didn’t plan on keeping anything on my windowsills. However the four-footed one opted to out her plush dinosaurs on the windowsills she could reach. Thankfully she only has two, but that’s enough for me.
I’ve nothing against dinosaurs, plush or whatever. I just have no need for them on my windowsills, but every day around eight in the morning they are placed on the windowsills to be removed only when it’s time to run around the house with them in your mouth. Well if you are the four-footed one that is. I have no more need for carrying dinosaurs in my mouth than I do to have them on my windowsills!
I recently received two gifts to cheer me up. I appreciate them because they are unlike anything I’ve ever had before, however they also cause me stress. You see friends I received a prayer plant and another plant called Moses In A Basket.
both plants are unusual to me and according to their papers, both are to care for. They like shade and should it be watered when the soil feels dry. Sounds easy, even for me.
So I found a nice place to put them followed the whole watering thing and they started to go a bit limp. The person who gave them to me refused to rescue the poor things, pointing out the orchid and African Violet’s have survived my almost black thumb.
Really it came to making a change, I could add more water or change their location. Changing the location seemed the most likely and so I moved them into another room that had a bit more sun in it. And the plants both perked up a bit. Please don’t uncross your fingers yet…it’s still early days after all.. And least you forget, I’ve managed to kill all those impossible-to-kill type of plants I’ve received over my life. I mean I e killed air plants for heaven sake!
Given the religious theme to these plants, I’m hoping my friend had them blessed and what have you so they’d have the strength to get through the test known as surviving me! But I have hope, since the orchid and the violets are hanging in there. And maybe that’s the real gift my friend gave me, the gift of strong hope and faith in me even when my self faith is lagging a bit.
Well friends, I must report today the passing of the poinsettia. He was brave and fought a very good fight, but in the end he was no match for living in our house. Late yesterday he took a turn for the worse, dropping weight (leaves) and being stick thin.
Early this morning, surrounded by his plant friends, he simply gave up his last leaf and succumbed to the dis-ease most plants have living on our house. He will be missed…his brilliantly coloured personality that he displayed with his leaves and flowers were always a welcome sight to my eyes.
I must confess when Beloved told me that poinsettia would be joining our family I was unsure. I didn’t know how he’d fit in to things. Where would he be best suited, what did he need and so on. I was cautious and careful around poinsettia least I upset him or make him feel unwelcomed.
He settled in just fine, finding his place among the other plants and bring joy to our faces. And then, shortly after Christmas he seemed to feel a little under the weather. His leaves dropped, petals fell of his slender body.
We consults experts, tried a variety of things and for a while it looked like he was going to win the battle. He perked up, his petals and leaves stopped falling and he seemed to be feeling like his old self.
And then sadly he lost the battle. Our lives are a wee bit less colourful, the room s little more empty. And once more I am left to wonder how many poor plants will suffer at my well-meaning, yet utterly hopeless hands?
Friend the orchid and African violets are still holding their own in this household. So we bravely added some friends, something called Christmas moss, which seems to be doing well. Sadly the poinsettia is not exactly in the same boat.
The plant looks ok, but some of the lower green leaves are turning yellow or just falling off. I don’t speak poinsettia, and to be honest I don’t remember anyone having them beyond Christmas so I’m not sure if this is normal or if it’s a case of my typical plant-keeping skills, well really lack thereof skills!
But the orchid and the African Violet’s plus the moss prove that I can do something with plants. Just only a select few I guess. The rose bushes seem to be doing well outside, granted it isn’t their season right now, but they seem fine.
So the poinsettia puzzles me. Because the plants and I have been doing well and then bang, this cute little red plant seems to prove that I’m not there yet. That I’m really still a danger to plants.
I never intended to be a serial plant murderer. It just kind of happened that way I guess. I’m pretty sure my picture is up on some wall somewhere as a wanted plant killer. Oh I know I’m not alone in this, and I’m sure somewhere if I looked hard enough I’d find a support group for people like me…plant murderers. Even ones who thought we were reformed or rehabilitated, and have learned that we aren’t really “fixed”.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I may be the weakest link. At least when it comes to the survival of the outside plants. I planted some flowers, the neighbors plant some more so the outside of the house would have splashes of color here and there. And it did.
I got this rather crazy idea in my head that nature takes care of itself. Plants need water, and rain falls. Plant needs light and the sun shines and when they need to breed, well there are bees. So since the plants are outside I decided to let nature take care of them.
Nature evidently had different ideas. It didn’t rain and my neighbors were away. Apparently nature was plotting against my brilliant plan. And friends I must confess nature was wining!
At the last-minute I clued in and watered the wilting plants. I figured since they were wilting and losing some of their brilliant colors maybe some intervention would be required. Hence me with the watering can. And of course several hours later, it rained!
No plants were permanently harmed during this lesson although apparently they were exceedingly stressed. Although I’m sure that the plants would disagree. If they could have, I’m sure they would have voted me the weakest link in their ability to survive!
A bold soul gave me a beautiful orchid plant. I was speechless when she gave it to me because this person knows of my ability to kill all green things in quick time. I wondered what this poor orchid had done to deserve a death sentence. Especially a death sentence in my hands.
But this person did an honest to goodness “pshaw” at my alarm. She seemed comfortable and confident in either my ability to look after the plant or in the plant’s survival skills. Which it was, I’m not certain.
Now I should point out that I do not intentionally kill plants. I do not wish them harm or ill-health. I follow directions closely. I worry about indirect sunlight and moderate sunlight. I fret over damp, not too wet, and do not let dry. I’m not a plant so how am I to know this stuff?
But a week and a bit into this odd relationship and the orchid is still blooming lovely flowers and has brilliant green leaves. I almost feel like I can sigh with relief….almost! Because I know the minute I feel comfortable, even just the slightest bit, the plant will wilt, or turn yellow or shed it’s leaves. (Trust me, all of this and worse can happen!)