Why do nice plants hate me?

I’m in here!

I’ve always loved the idea of living in a jungle, nothing but birds and wild creatures for company. I was inspired (scarred?) by ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ as a child and imagined a future life as a kind of Mrs Dolittle who could live in a cave and go a bit wild. My friendly gorillas would protect me from harm and we’d all have a great old time.

Ah, the innocence of childhood dreams. Instead of becoming an explorer I stayed put, finding jobs here and there (none of which involved animals of any kind never mind Rwandan silverbacks). And anyway, Dame Jane Goodall – official legend – has primate expertise covered.

So what’s left? The jungle. I grew up in a house filled with books and plants, walking along the hallway would invariably involve getting poked in the eye with a spiky leaf, so I assumed there would be something in the genes that would make me green-fingered. Mum is great with plants so shouldn’t that pass down the generations?

Turns out: no. Over the years I’ve brought countless plants home and lovingly tended to them (on one memorable occasion even talking to one) but to no avail. All too soon the leaves wilt, drooping down in despair that they were the unlucky ones to end up in my house. On especially melancholy days I picture the scene in the garden centre as plants nudge one another and close their eyes in the hope that I won’t choose them. I’ve tried using less water, using more water, pretending I don’t care (as if the offending plant is a cat and I can tempt it to love me by feigning indifference), and pleading with them to stay alive.

Nothing works. But somehow one grew tall and strong and healthy and I would tip toe past, genuinely impressed, resisting the urge to reach out and stroke a leaf in case it recoiled at my touch. This outlier now resides with Auntie Anne (who selflessly stored all our stuff during the year out) and it is the happiest plant in all the land – it even sported tiny lights during the winter. 

So I have no greenery to speak of in the house, no seedlings waiting to hatch, and no gorillas either. But the garden is another story, it’s bursting into life right now with daffodils and primroses and tulips all showing their faces after a long winter. 

The view from the shed is endlessly delightful. Birds taking a bath in an old tin container, bees bumbling in the wind, seagulls dive-bombing crows on neighbours’ rooftops. And look at those yellow flowers – maybe I’m an outdoor explorer after all?

4 Replies to “Why do nice plants hate me?”

  1. This is lovely, Susan! I found it refreshing from start to finish, and I love the light humou! Like you, I can’t manage indoor plants, apart from spider plants!!!
    Give me the great outdoors!!

  2. I too suffer this affliction 😶 The only plant that has survived, nay, even thrived in our house is a cheese plant we were given nearly 40(!) years ago. Evetytime a new leaf grew an old one would die off leaving us with a spindly effort we called The Trif ( as in triffid!). Last year I took the bull by the horns and replanted the top part of it, expecting it to die….but Hallelujah-it lives!! and looks quite healthy now. 🤣🤣

    1. I’m impressed! You’ve got me thinking…maybe I should get a triffid next? Hard to imagine what could possibly go wrong

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