Throwing in the Trowel


Some people have a knack for getting plants to grow, some don’t. I’m one of the don’ts. How brown is my brown thumb? It’s black. Need proof? Okay.

I killed a cactus once. I didn’t mean to do it. I promise. But that was just the beginning.

My “lucky” bamboo died. That’s right bamboo, a plant that has been known proliferate so much in the wild, it can take over whole villages, wilted and expired in my care. What does that mean? It means that bamboo’s luck ran out when someone gave it to me.

If I had been the one to trade my cow for magic beans, I would have never gotten to meet the giant.

My black thumb is so bad, I always say that I’m surprised my kids have grown.
Have you ever noticed how the “green thumbers” treat us “black-thumbers” like sadists? They pick up a dying plant, look at the “black-thumber” accusingly and say things like, “What are you doing to this poor thing?” Then they turn away slightly as if to protect the plant from another blow of ineptitude, coo at it, and promise it better care.

It’s not just indoor-plants that suffer at my house.

I brought sister in for a consultation about some plants I’d just bought for the yard which were already looking sad. My sister is one of those people who can plant broken sticks in the ground and have them sprout lush leaves within days. She knew what the problem was.

“You’re watering them too much and the sun’s not right here. They need morning sunlight and shade in the afternoon,” she said.

“So what am I supposed to do? Stand out here and hold a little parasol over the darn things every day from noon ‘til five?”

“No.”, she said patiently, though she may have been gritting her teeth ever so slightly. “We’re going to move them to a better spot.”

“Oh. Good idea.”

She spent the better part of the day working her green thumb magic all over the yard. One suggestion she had paid off. She really thought that the Bradford Pear trees would start to perk up if we put a little barrier around the trunks. She thought the barrier would stop my husband from knocking off hunks of bark when he used the weed-whacker around them. Go figure. It worked.

Which brings up something else. I’m obviously not the only one in the house who doesn’t know a lot about plants. When we first moved into our house there were gorgeous lilies blooming all along the fence line. I had always thought those came back every year, right? Only ours didn’t. It didn’t take long to discover why. My husband was mowing them down with the rider. Those poor plants, so desperate they were to grow and flourish, they took it upon themselves to grow up under the fence and into our neighbor’s yard. At least every spring we get to enjoy their lovely blooms through the chain link.

My sister’s advice, care and explicit, detailed instructions have helped our yard look a little better, but our indoor area is still barren of plant life.

For some oddball reason, yesterday I picked up a plant in the grocery store, examined it and put it in my basket. It was so pretty, lush and lovely, perfect in every way. As I moved through the other aisles, it started to droop. I suppose my plant-killer aura was poisoning the air around it. By the time I made it to the frozen food section brown spots had developed on some of the leaves. Can plants get nervous hives? This one was showing signs. Its trembling leaves weren’t being moved by the central air conditioning. I’m sure. It was scared. As I stood at the checkout, one withered leaf fluttered to the floor. With tears in my eyes, I handed the plant to the cashier and said, “Here. Take it. Put it back on the display stand and let it live in peace. It’s better off without me.”

So, I give up. Before my mug shot starts showing up at garden centers with the words, “Warning! Do not sell plants to this notorious killer!” underneath, I’m throwing in the trowel. That wasn’t a breeze you just felt. It was plants all over the country breathing a sigh of relief.

copyright Loretta Casteen 2010

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Look, Ma! They’re Still Alive. « Claiming Creativity
  2. شركة تنظيف المنازل
    Jul 01, 2015 @ 00:44:55

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    Reply

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