Small Joys: Cultivating Green(-ish) Fingers

When I was about ten, I had a Mexican hat plant called Antonio. I don't remember taking any particular care of Antonio but he thrived regardless and grew hundreds of tiny baby Mexican hat plants all along the edge of his leaves. They looked like teeth. I was horrified when my mum potted them up and sold them all at a jumble sale, ripping apart Antonio's enormous family.

Regardless of this trauma, watching Antonio thrive convinced me that looking after plants was easy. I don't think I had ever even watered him; all I had done was look at him and hope.

It came as a bit of a shock to me, then, when later neglected plants withered and died. My "impossible to kill" lavendar? Dead. My "low maintenance" peace lily? Dead. My "zero effort" cactus? Dead.

I gave up on plants for many years after that.

A few years ago, Steve and I decided to have another go at caring for pot plants. We've killed off quite a lot of herbs, one chilli plant and (rather distressingly) an enormous peace lily which was a centrepiece at our friends' wedding (although that one did come with root rot so we're not taking much of the blame). More positively, we have a cactus and a chrysanthemum which survived the move from the old flat, two very healthy and two slightly poorly chilli plants, a variety of cuttings which could be made of plastic for all we know - none of them have changed in all the years we've owned them - and two spider plants.

And one of the spider plants is flowering. The joy!

Spider plant flower

Not only that but things keep appearing in our grossly neglected garden. And I don't just mean weeds. It's currently awash with kaffa lilies (pictured) and bright pink nerines (the My Little Pony of plants). The nasturtiums which I planted in a fit of enthusiasm this spring are also doing well.

Kaffa liles

So I'm feeling pretty positive about plants right now. I feel like maybe - just maybe - if I actually read my gardening books and google a little bit, I might be able to get our flower beds under control.

This being the right time of year to plant bulbs (according to a sign I saw outside a garden centre), I went so far as to buy a load of anemone bulbs/seeds/weird-sugar-lump-shaped-things from Poundstretcher, remove them from their packaging and plant them in the ground. So fingers crossed for next spring...!

Anemone seed packets

And if that goes well, I might even have another go at caring for peace lilies. Third time lucky, you know...

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  1. We have the brownest thumbs of anyone I know. My mom gave us a bunch of plants, we killed them all, then she gave us more off-shoots of the same plants. We'll see how they do.

  2. Oh boy me too, I kill all the plants all the time.

  3. Our biggest challenge is keeping the plants out of reach of the cats. The more toxic they are, they more Gizmo wants to eat them.

  4. I didn't know spider plants flowered! (looks at depressed brown spider plant in corner apologetically....)

  5. I'm not sure I'd ever seen one flower before so I was VERY excited.


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