Master Whacker

Not to blow my own horn, but I really am quite skilled at the art of killing houseplants. I don’’t even have to try –- it just comes to me naturally. The whole trick lies in absent-mindedness. Once every two months or so, I actually notice a houseplant as I am walking by and I think to myself – “”Boy! That’’s a sorry looking thing. I really should water it.”” Sometimes I even go in search of a watering can, but that always ends five minutes later with me standing somewhere in the house wondering what I am doing there or what I was looking for.

My career as florassassin has had its highs and lows. The absolute peak came in a gardening center when I succeeded in killing a plant on the way to the cashier. The thing took one look at me as I was placing it in my shopping cart and just gave up the ghost. It was all wilty looking by the time I put it on the check-out counter. I bought it anyway out of a sense of guilt. The biggest challenge of my career has been a certain Yucca palm who shall remain nameless. Three years ago, I declared victory, dragged the thing outside and deposited it near the compost bin. In spring, I needed the pot it had been in, so I started to dig out the stem and roots of the presumed dead yucca . . . and there they were: two little green leaves sprouting out just below the soil line. Over the summer, outside, it resurrected itself into a respectable little plant. I brought it inside in the fall and restarted it on the long process of deprivation.

Every year in spring, I have a sudden, short-lived fit of repentance gardening. I drag all my suffering houseplants outside to a spot where some future rainfall might give them a fighting chance at survival. Then I go clean up and weed my flowerbeds. For years I have had the sneaking suspicion that a lot of the stuff I was ripping out was actually supposed to be there. This year, those suspicions were confirmed.

Because this spring has been so cold, today was the first time I toured the flower beds –- trowel and fork in hand, just in case I got the sudden urge to take a few whacks at things. I discovered all sorts of perennials coming up that I didn’’t know I had. For a few of them, I do have a faint, vague memory of planting them way back when, but I don’’t remember actually seeing them in my garden over the years. I am looking forward to finding out what they all are.

I never actually got around to starting the weeding. I came back inside to write about it all instead. It’s probably better this way.


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