Saturday, May 30

Murder and Other Shortcomings

I kill plants.

Did you know that? Well, now you do. I kill plants.

To be honest, it's more like a massacre. You could call me the Crazy Horse of horticulture. I charge right on down on them and kill 'em all. Serves 'em right. Oh. Wait. Never mind.

I've tried. Lord knows I've tried. I fork over the money for the plants. I buy seeds and try to start the plants myself. I try to hook up with some people who don't kill plants so they can teach me how not to kill plants, or least help me buy some plants that are less killable. I feel like Seymour Krelborn--whaddya want from me, blood? ( on the arrow under the black thumb above)

In my heart, I am one of those "cottage garden" people. I want to live in a place surrounded by green and color and lushness and serenity like this (I'll take the place, too, while you're at it):

or this:

But I can't. Because I'm a murderer.

Don't try to be encouraging. Don't reassure me that if I "start small", I can build up. I have tried to start small. Like pansies. I love pansies. I love when they appear in the stores in spring with their "hardiness" strutted out all over the place, and every year, I see them, and I think "I can do that". And I did do it once, and they lived for quite awhile, if sparsely, and that encouraged me. So this year, anxious to bring a little (or a lot) more color into my life and my walkway to my front door and my humble abode, I got to work. I cleared the really messy front flower bed, I cleaned up the yard, I bought and installed a really cute window box , I bought some gorgeous pansies. Beautiful. Sumptuous. Seductive, even. They looked like this:

Now they look like this:

Why, Robin, you say, why can't you research this just like you do everything else? Come now, Robin, you've always been the one to figure things out. Surely, Robin, you could look this up and find out what's wrong.

I did. You know what's wrong? I kill plants.

Yeesssss, I did also figure out that they're not in a spot where they get enough sun. And that they get "leggy" (even I can figure out what that means, but the shoe fits, which is an excellent mixed metaphor, if I do say so myself--on the other hand, "the foot bone's connected to the leg bone", so maybe not) when they don't have enough sun. And okay, so I didn't water them enough for awhile because the hose was leaking and I had to buy a new one, a really long one that will stretch from the sole spigot on the back of the house all the way around to the front yard, and like I said before, I'm not exactly rolling in cash, so that took me a while and besides, how am I supposed to know how much water they need, especially when the weather changes by 50 degrees in one day, and then I probably watered them too much because they looked sad and I'm an empath.

And I do know that impatiens, a flower I also really like and whose name is a perfect match for my attitude toward gardening, is now available and would probably do a lot better in that spot, as well as in the window box, which is under the roof overhang which is something I didn't think about when it came to counting on rain for watering. And I guess I could have figured out ahead of time that that spot was shady, because when you're planting you're supposed to know those things, even though I have never really figured out how you're supposed to gauge such things and how anyone really knows unless they sit and watch their garden (on a sunny day, of course) so that they can calculate exactly how much sun or shade a particular area gets, which implies a whole lot less busy life than I have. Though it's possible that I should be able to figure out that the many old and large trees in my yard might make it shady. I didn't think of that.

I know there are books I can read about this. I probably own ten of 'em. And there are even websites that tell you what to do every week by know, "This week, plant strawberries and azaleas...". Or whatever, I'm just making that up to show that I know the names of stuff that people plant. Good, eh? And you can just follow the directions. It sounds so easy. Then why, year after year, do I live in a place that would be better suited to a rusted out car in the side yard than to someone reciting poetry professing love on a stone bench on a garden path? Hmm?

It's not recent. It's always been this way. I remember I had a purportedly hardy little house plant in college, oh, a gazillion years ago. I think it it was a philodendron (I killed the wandering jew, which kinda seems like genocide, and the coleus). When it was on its last legs, I brought it home to my mom, who is a genius at this stuff (hint: I did NOT get these genes). Last I checked, it was still alive and thriving in the back bathroom, which coincidentally now functions as the guest bedroom, so it's still sitting there thumbing its green nose at me every time I visit. I've thought about spitting at it, but it might like that.

The killer (ha) is that I never seem to give up. I always seem to think that one of these days I'm going to be able to do it, that I'm gonna have a garden, even a small patch, that looks luxurious and colorful and which welcomes me home after a long day at my non-job. In fact, the reason I'm sitting here writing this is to keep me from going out right now and dropping a whole 'nother wad of cash on some new plants to replace the ones I have almost killed. I want it to be pretty.

Don't tell me to hire someone to do it, like, say, someone who doesn't kill plants. I don't have that kind of money (I quit my job, remember?), and I don't even own my house, ferevvinsakes. Though that still means there is no obstacle to planting annuals, because there's no big homeowner kind of investment in that. Sheesh. That's what I tried to do. And don't tell me that the solution to the expense is to grow them from seed, which is cheap, or to use cuttings (which seems like Advanced Homicide to me, I'm not really ready for that yet). I do that every year too, grow 'em from seed. You might even remember. I was positively giddy when they sprouted. But then there are all those rules about taking them outside for just a few hours and bringing them back in and the dates after which they can or can't be outside, and how they have to get transplanted into bigger containers when they get some sort of indeterminate size, and all that. I get overwhelmed. I let 'em sprout, I am so happy, then I kill 'em.

And then there's the bygones. Of course. The hydrangea--one of my very favorites, I could gape at them for hours--that I planted probably ten years ago at my old house is finally thriving and getting sizeable, and now I don't live there anymore. I know. It's karmic payback. I get that, and I accept my fate, head bowed.

Don't even get me started on the pH stuff and "soil amendments". Oh. My. God.

All I've gotta say is, thank god I'm really good at growing kids. I'd pretty much have to throw myself under a truck otherwise.

Gotta go. Plants to buy.

1 comment:

deezee said...

thanks for stopping by, from one black thumb to the next.