My mom is, amongst other things, a fabulous gardener and florist. She does wedding flowers, volunteers for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, leads workshops, judges garden contests and can grow just about anything, anywhere.
I, on the other hand can kill just about anything, anywhere.
My mother is very proud of me in most regards but I know, deep down, that my lack of horticultural prowess is ever-so-slightly disappointing to her.
Which is why, I suppose, she cleared out some old galvanized planters and casually offered them to me for my new house.
I love anything galvanized. In fact, the only thing I love more than regular galvanized stuff is free galvanized stuff so I said “Yes!” without a moment’s hesitation.
In my mind, you see, I am a great gardener. In my mind I grow herbs and actually cook with them. In my mind, I have a fantastic urban container garden made of creatively “up-cycled” objects. In my mind, my patio looks so fabulous that magazine editors start calling me to do photo shoots.
In reality, though I have killed everything I’ve ever tried to grow: the aloe my mom gave me when I went off to college, the potted plant my old roommate gave me when I moved into my new flat in London, the bamboo shoot my preschoolers gave me at the end of the school year, even the bean I was supposed to sprout for a science project in third grade.
My brother, by the way, is almost as bad. After planting a row of corn in the backyard in high school, he went through a brief bonsai tree phase. By “brief,” I mean very brief: just long enough to purchase a small jade plant which he promptly began to neglect and nearly killed. Somehow though, our mother was able to revive it.
At any rate, she salvaged six little rectangular containers for me to take to my new house. And last Wednesday, when I got home from work, she mentioned (very casually once again) that she’d picked up “a few” plants for me from the Plant Hospital.
(The Plant Hospital is what we call the clearance rack in the garden section at Lowes where all of the almost-dead plants are given one last heavily-discounted shot at life.)
Far be it from me to question to logic of entrusting a known plant-killer three with three trays of almost-dead plants (then again, I guess I’m not really worthy of the $30 hydrangeas with my track record?) but as I lugged the trays out of my dad’s VW bus, it occurred to me that it wasn’t actually about the plants: my mom could be a coy and casual and nonchalant as she wanted but this was a pre-planned, carefully orchestrated mother/daughter moment.
She was attempting to send me out into the world with something just a little bit pretty to get me started, and as long as I was okay with spending the afternoon gardening, I would get my mom all to myself without my dad or my brother or my grandparents getting in the way.
It was nice, until she told me to go up to the balcony and get some compost— then it was gross— but mainly it was nice. We then drank wine and watched back to back episodes of Toddlers and Tiara’s to celebrate my success: