The Green Revolution

Going from plant to plant this morning with my watering can, something struck me. No, it wasn’t a trailing branch of the lush begonia hanging in my office window. It was a thought. When did I become a person whose house plants thrive?

I’ve always thought of myself as someone whose thumbs are more black than green. My history with outdoor gardening certainly supports that self-assessment. Somehow or other, I manage to produce a mediocre crop of tomatoes almost every year, but that’s about as green as it gets.

Years ago I got a freelance assignment writing copy for the Gurney company’s seed and garden catalogs. When I told my mother about it, she asked, “Did you tell them that your house plants always die?” Of course not. I wanted the job. So for two months I unblushingly wrote descriptions of super-sweet strawberries and burpless cucumbers, then went home to my scraggly Christmas cactus and scrawny philodendron.

(The Christmas cactus, by the way, wasn’t my fault. For several months I wondered why it seemed so limp and was so flat instead of growing upward from the pot. Then one afternoon I discovered the cat sleeping in it.)

But that was a long time ago. Now a daughter of that same Christmas cactus reaches proud, glossy leaves out of its pot. The two African violets in my east office window bloom constantly. The begonia hanging above them needs trimmed back pretty soon if I want to be able to get any light from the window. The two big plants near the front door produce new leaves almost daily. The something-or-other that was a couple of wilted stalks in a plastic bag when a friend gave it to me is now a thriving bush on the kitchen floor.

There are plants all over the place. I don’t even know what kind most of them are. I just water them more or less regularly, turn them every so often so they don’t lean sideways, and fertilize them once a year or so whether they need it or not. And they grow. I don’t understand it; I just enjoy it.

Maybe my aura has changed over the years. Maybe it’s the water. Or maybe, given enough time and a little luck, even black thumbs can begin to turn green. Who knows? Maybe, in a few more years, this remarkable transformation will even move outside and touch my tomato plants.

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