Our gardens in many lights

mardi 17 octobre 2023




Let's talk about statism and ugliness. We buy interior plants with the limited perspective that we do when we buy a trinket: We rarely take into account that the bought plant will grow and change, that it as needs (changing ones) and if they are not met, it will cause the plant to be distressed and it just might affect its appearance.

Often our patience is limited: if the plant is not in perfect shape, we will simply throw it away until another perfect plant catch our eye at our next visit to the store.

For many years now, I've been the proud owner of a beautiful  Begonia Rex, Escargot variety (top picture with a figurine of my mascot, Grimace la Limace). In summer, I place it on the back patio out of direct sunlight. But this year, I haven't been particularly kind to the plant. Although I acclimated the plant to the outside gradually at the beginning of May, I placed her right in the sunlight, so the leaves have burned. And whatever was left of the leaves were killed by a night frost (of which I presumed wouldn't be so bad. It was).

So I was left with the results of my many misjudgments, a sad, brown trunk that by all account looked dead. Somehow, my laziness that started all this persisted and I just left the pot with the dead looking trunk on the balcony, just in case it would come back. For two months I saw the evidence of my failure like this. 
And eventually, a couple a days a go, I noticed a tiny leaf! And a second one!
There's also a couple of weeds in there, if you noticed the one right in the middle of the spiralling trunk.


 That begonia won't be a dashing beauty tomorrow, but it is proof that, sometimes, with a bit of patience (and water), they can be tremendously resilient if we just give them the chance and they will forgive us the mistakes we put them through, even those we believe to be fatal.
And this story as happened to me so often! Here's a couple of other close-calls of the year (yeah, just this year):
The 4 plantspictured here almost died: The tomato plant was started as a seed, but I tried to reuse really old seed starter dirt. It's the only one that survived and I'm really surprised it did!  The basil was almost dead (you can still see many dead stems) because I messed up the transplantation and I placed it outside right before one of our deluge of rain. Since the pot doesn't have a hole, it was left in mud for many days. The parsley was in the house, facing a north window. Now it's starting to look green again, but for a while it was mostly yellow. And finally the coleus (red leaves) was on a table and was thrown down so many time by the wind that I was sure it would just die.

It's the first time I have a Calathea plant and learning how to tend for it was painful. Instead of testing the earth to feel how much water it needed, I systematically watered it every Monday (too much and not enough respectively). After a while of this treatment, the leaves started to brown completely. Starting to water it with more care (meaning, feeling the dirt with my fingers to figure out if it needed water or not), new leaves started to come out, but I can tell you that for a month or two, it wasn't a beautiful plant to look at! I nevertheless got it right: you can spot new leaves in this picture (the purple on the outside, soft green on the inside tubes coming out of the ground).

Another variety of Calathea. This one, we always got along, I never came close to kill it (I do have some successes, sometimes too!). Even there, the prettiest plant will give you the occasional yellow leaf but who cares: it is the process of life, be it ever changing.

I also have an orchid plant that for two years didn't flower. I now a lot of people who told me out of exasperation that they have tried orchids but they just wouldn't flower, so they were thrown away. From my experience, this is normal. It takes timer and energy to flower! Doesn't mean it's not worth it or that it should be thrown away
By the by, here's a little trick about orchid: this plant was given to me with a sprig of artificial flowers (that you see right now in the picture). So while it is not flowering, I pin this fake sprig and the plant may flower whenever it wants: I'll be there to appreciate it when it does, otherwise I'm quite satisfied with the fake flowers.

The ultimate goal of this article was first of all to shed a light on our (my, specifically) mistakes. I've had plenty already and will surely continue to have many in the years to come, maybe because of my inexperience or my laziness. Secondly, I would like this to be a reminder that plants are not static object equal to our other trinkets, they are living things that will grow and change and just not always be beautiful (just like us, really). But even when we think it is over, if we give them the chance, they may yet surprise and impress us! 

Isn't she dashing, now that we are in October?


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