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How Green Was My Valley?


My family’s recently moved to a new toy storage facility with attached kitchen. You might know it as a home. And I was going to say toy storage facility with attached kitchen and bath, but the bathroom is really just the place to keep the water-related toys.

Even though we really, really think we want to pare down and throw out some (all) of the toys, for the first time we’ve got an outdoor toy storage area – you may know it as a garden – which can only give those toy suckers even more room to expand. And so now, in addition to trying to keep the toys corralled, there’s these green thingies — plants, I believe they’re called — that we have to take care of too.

So fine, we’re willing to learn, but I think the garden knows it has a couple of amateurs in charge now. It’s laughing at us.

There’s a jasmine plant, which I used to really enjoy – before it was mine. It had its flowers, they had a nice smell – what more could you ask for from a plant? But, the day we moved in, without even giving us a chance, bam – flowers dropped off, leaves turned brown, the whole plant was quivering in water-deprived agony, its dry rustling shouting, “Boy, are these people dumb. Could somebody find me a real gardener please?”

First lesson: jasmine needs a lot of water. This was perhaps not the wisest choice of plant in a climate that doesn’t get a lot of rain, but for now it’s recovering – and it better watch its step as we decide its long-term fate.

So you’d think a plant that doesn’t need a lot of water might fare better. My lax watering habits seem tailor-made for succulents, for example. Well, you’d think wrong. What’s the opposite of a green thumb? My thumb of death seems to have touched the aloe plant our neighbor gave us as a going-away present. (We won’t speculate on how happy the neighbor, a peaceful Sunday-brunch-outside fan whose patio connected to ours, often filled with small, ball-throwing and noise-making children, might have been to see us go.) We carted it over to the new place and — bam — brown leaves. Apparently this might be sunburn, rather than lack of water. But it’s enough to worry about making sure the kids get sunblock on, there’s no way I’m worrying about giving some plant a hat and rubbing on SPF25. So the aloe’s been alerted that since it lives in a pot, it’s even easier to toss out than the jasmine which is rooted in the ground. We’ll see if it shapes up.

(I know I’m not the only one lacking in gardening skills. This is somewhat reassuring but still doesn’t help my poor plants.)

I’m beginning to wonder if, like certain hard-to-get toys, the whole taking care of the garden thing is another one of those adulthood scams, one of the “shoulds” for supposed solid citizens that have a questionable pay-off. Let’s see: it’s spring, you have a beautiful weekend, and middle-aged folks’ fancy turns to thoughts of …Digging, weeding, spending and hauling mulch from the garden center?

Sure. Cross off those plans to tool to the beach in a convertible. The car seats don’t fit in the back anyway.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 10:53 PM | Permalink

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