Friday, July 24, 2009

Just Never Know What'll Take Sometimes

I’ve been told I have a green thumb. For some plants yes – others, well, they’ve gone to their grave, but not until I’ve exhausted all possibilities for keeping them alive. I love my plants, but sometimes, I have to concede, some weren’t meant to last with me.

I learn a lot watching my plants grow. I’m no expert in plant soils, fertilizers, or even watering. I take them being alive as a bit of a miracle. It’s up to nature or their nature and if I can read them right and give them what they need. I can fuss over some but the plants I work best with I leave alone to do their thing.

I get a few hand me downs – and I usually don’t say no to more green friends. I try to control my urge to buy more and when I do, try to select ones I imagine to have the best success with.

Last June, to spruce up my patio for my birthday party, I bought 4 plants – one fuchsia, two drought resistant plants (the wisest choice for living in parched California) and the last, a hydrangea. The fuchsia I bought for the hummingbirds. The drought plants had wonderful flowers and had the best chance, I thought, for survival in the hot heat. The hydrangea, I considered, was a bit of a vanity plant. I love their beautiful flowers and they always remind me of grand Victorian mansions that they seem, in front of, inevitably planted. I always wanted one but didn’t know anything about them except that their flower petal colors change depending on the acidity of the soil. Would they even work growing in a pot? My desire won over practicality – sort of. My reasoning was that I wanted to buy a bouquet of flowers but wouldn’t a live plant be more practical….

We had a heat wave. The fuchsia tanked. No matter how much shade I tried, the fuchsia couldn’t rebound. The drought plants flourished. The hydrangea lost all its flowers. With leaves still on the plant, I considered that it wasn’t really dead.

A week later I saw a woman complaining to a clerk at Trader Joes about her hydrangea dying. I thought of mine. Was it really the plant, the store, or the owner?

In August, I set to move to Wine Country in Northern California. One of the drought plants became riddled with black bugs I couldn’t get rid of. I made the heartbreaking decision to toss the plant. I didn’t want to risk taking foreign bugs to a new location. I packed the flowerless hydrangea into my car with my numerous other plants. (I actually drove twice back and forth to move all my plants. Did I mention I love my plants?).

At my new place I had all the free soil and pots I could want thanks to my new landlords. I repotted the hydrangea and the drought plant. Winter came. I didn’t realize how cold the Wine Country gets. It got down to 20 degrees. The cold and the rain took a toll on many of my plants. My hydrangea looked barely alive. The stems browned. Most of the leaves had gone. I pondered tossing it but the better part of me told me to wait and see.

Spring came. Most of my plants rebounded. My drought plant bloomed when I first replanted it; it then completely dried up. I had tucked the hydrangea in a corner near the gate. I hadn’t paid that much attention to it until one day I noticed all new leaves on it. They continued to grow. I noticed some leaves browning so I moved it out of the afternoon sun to where it would get morning sun.

This past June, to my surprise, the hydrangea started to sprout flowers. Now it’s in full bloom. Had I tossed it out when it looked dead, I never would have these blooming flowers now. I took that as a great lesson. You never know what will take hold. Last year I would have bet on the drought plant. Then again, I set to live in Mendocino and ended up in Sonoma. You don’t know always know what’s going to pay off in the end. The only true proof is to pay attention to what’s about to flower.

Ya just never know what will take sometimes - it's always best to have an open mind :)

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