May 18, 2006

Constant gardener, not

Hybiscus sinensisNow you may foolishly believe that I'm a fantastic gardener, trowel always in one hand, spray bottle in the other, and that all my beds are always beautiful, every plant lush and bursting into blossom at the slightest excuse. Problem is, it jest ain't so. In actual fact, I much prefer looking at my flowers to fussing over them. One of the reasons I am so fond of perennial gardening is that if you give a plant halfways decent conditions, all you really have to do is sit back and watch it grow, giving it a little helping hand now and again. And if you don't feel like giving that hand today, it usually doesn't matter too much. Tomorrow will do just fine.

But potted plants live in highly artificial environments, so you can't just sit back and let Nature do its thing. You have to water, fertilize, watch for pests... and tomorrow is often too late.

So it's never too much of a shock when one of my insufficiently pampered babies throws a hissy fit because I've fallen short in the pampering department. The same plant that produced the beautiful bloom at the top of this post now looks like this:

Stressed leaves on Hibiscus sinensis
Behold the result of ignoring the spider mites on the grapefruit tree snuggled next to it (they were just barely noticeable, no big deal, right?) and then putting the hibiscus out for the summer. "I can handle one, I can handle the other," she screamed, "but there is NO way I am going to put up with both! How can you do this to meeeeee?"

I now have the choice of soothing the sobbing prima donna or showing her the door. I'm not a fan of prima donnas. Got no respect for hissy fits. But those velvet red blooms are SOOOOOOO irresistible and she's got a big fat flower bud going even in the midst of her distress...

So like dutiful lovers everywhere, I will bow to her wishes and pull out the insecticidal soap. "Now, now, baby, don't cry..."

I mean, how can I put a pregnant lady out on the street?

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