Thursday, September 09, 2010

Death and the Plants

I can't grow anything. Gray hair, yes. Plants, no. If I try, it will die a sad and tragic death.

I have friends (Finny, this means you) who can grow anything. They get the idea "I'd like to own a peach orchard" and trees magically start blooming in their back yards. Perfect rounds of ripe fruit, glistening with dew like in the pages of a Japanese catalog, will hang tantalizingly from the branches. And animated bluebirds will chirp happily and land on her fingers.

I will buy a plant and it will die in the car on the way home.

The only thing I have ever successfully managed to not murder is cactus. Which is strangely appropriate.

We have a couple of wildly phallic cacti in our front yard that I am just childish enough to giggle about when I see them. There are a few on the kitchen counter above the sink. But other than that our indoor greenery consists of a bamboo tree that I tried to prune and turned into a bamboo stalk. And the other plant is something else. No clue what it is. It's been here since the Hoover administration so it's origin is shrouded in the mists of time.

The house we rent comes with a gardener, so we fortunately never have to deal with mowing the lawn or pruning the roses. There are a few bare spots in the dirt which I've tried to fill with various bits of greenery or ground cover only to end up with brown, striggly plants that looks crisp enough to break with an actual "snap."

Now being a thoroughly modern woman, I do have excuses. First off, the neighborhood cats look upon our house as home base so they feel perfectly justified in digging up, peeing on, and generally killing off anything in the yard. That's one of the reasons why I put cactus out front. When I tried planting basil we decided we didn't actually want to use it because there was cat poo all over the planter. The freaky thing is that we've actually seen the cats sleeping in the planters with the cactus. It doesn't seem to bother them.

The other excuse is that we don't actually have soil in our yard. We have concrete. At one point the ground cover in our front yard died completely and it made our yard look like we lived in the sole crack house on the block. So I finally got fed up and decided to replant. I couldn't dig it up. The mix of ancient dirt and natural clay was so rock-hard that I actually had to sit there with a hammer and chisel (no, I am not kidding) and break up clods. Took me fucking forever. Several months, actually. I was never once able to use a shovel, a trowel, or any other normal gardening implement. Nope. Me and stone tools.

Once I got it all broken up I dutifully added fresh soil and fertilizer and various other nutrients before planting the new ground cover. And it's the one and only thing (thankfully) that has ever stuck around. Huzzah! We don't look abandoned! But knowing what's required does not inspire me to do it all round the house. I'm just not that interested.

So hats off to all of you who toil and sweat in the yard and then sit back with the butter running off your chin as you eat your fresh corn. Your hard work deserves all the yummy and beautiful things you grow. But for me, well I don't actually enjoy feeling like I'm on a Georgia chain gang. So I'll just buy my crops and envy you your freshness.

1 comment:

Kittie Howard said...

Decca, you're wonderful! Your sense of humor makes my day. I'm sorry, tho, you had to chisel the front yard (did you leave evidence for future archeologists to ponder over??)...that's not fun and you're a great sport for hanging in there.

Yep, Cajun that yummy stuff. Hey, if you've got a chance click on over to Marguerite's blog (cajundelights) and take a look see...she's a real Cajun with real Cajun recipes...I've my own, natch, and with M's recipes to help I'm almost fluent in Cajun French.