I once killed a pothos plant. You know the ones: the vining plants that they give to teenagers to use in science experiments, which is to say, they’re so unkillable that we give them to teenagers to use in science experiments. I was leaving town for two weeks, and left it outside so I wouldn’t have to worry about watering it. And it rained for two straight weeks, thus drowning the Rasputin of house plants.
So I stopped. Period. Never touched a plant. My husband has a knack for moving a plant a quarter-turn counterclockwise, and watching it bloom; when I would bring plants home, I’d tell them, “I’m giving you to him,” thus assuring them of a long, long life indoors.
Now I have a yard, and if you’ve been reading, you know that my obsession started small, and expands exponentially with each passing day, blossoming like so many delicate lobelia flowers cascading down the side of a cement planter. And it may–just may–be encroaching on the territory of insanity. Every new leaf brings me closer to a conviction that I am a master gardener. Every time I break up a hosta or lily, and replant it, and watch it thrive, I become more convinced of my supernatural powers.
Clearly, between the fairy house, and my newly grown hot pepper, I am a magical being in touch with the green things of the world. Maybe I’m a wood nymph; maybe I’m a wood wizard; maybe I’m just Rosetta. I don’t know. But clearly, something magical is happening, because there’s no other explanation for it.
The thing is: it’s easy. I thought this would be impossibly difficult, but I find a plant that goes in the shade, and I plant it in the shade according to the directions on the tab, which usually involve “dig a hole twice as wide as the pot, stick it in, fill it in with some garden soil or compost, water it, and mulch it. And then water some more.” And then the thing grows. Even the coral bells that I planted outside the fence, the ones that our local bunny rabbit nibbled to stalks, have bounced back nicely with a replanting. I dug out a rain channel that works. My herb garden is bursting with flavor, my peas are climbing a wire, my zucchinis have blossoms, my tomatoes are budding out with little green globes. I am a green goddess.
I am willing to concede that maybe gardening’s just not that difficult. That it just takes a lot of nerve–hey, let’s stick that thing there and see what happens!–and a certain pleasure in beautifully mindless activity, like digging holes and deadheading flowers and the ineffable mind-erasing peace of watering plants in the morning sun. Even when you’re growing living things, after all, nothing is permanent, and if the rhododendron doesn’t like that spot, let’s dig it up and try it over there.
My entire life, I’ve been convinced gardeners, like my mother, are wizards and have some innate insight into the world of green things that is esoteric and insane, like baseball card savants. So it follows that I might have inherited her green gene, as it pertains to putting things in the ground, instead of in pots inside. After all, she comes from a long line of backyard tomato-and-basil growers. So maybe we’re Italian old country fairies.
But maybe… OK, probably… if it’s something you find pleasure in, you’ll find it’s actually not that difficult at all. Give it a shot. At worst, you’ll have a whole bunch of new tools, new magazines, new knowledge, new apps, and a new way to bore your family, friends, and blog readers. Isn’t that worth the time?