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Throw it Out?

Report From PIA – December 23

Whether I’m doing a landscape consultation on a client’s property, or speaking to those who attend one of my talks, I frequently find myself saying, “That plant isn’t worth saving… toss it in the compost.” The person I’m speaking to usually gives me a look of horror and says, “Oh, I can’t do that, it’s still living.”

Some of you who read this blog are former consultation clients, so you may be interested to learn that today I had an opportunity to practice what I preach…and I couldn’t do it.

I was helping my friend Susan decorate her church for Christmas. She gestured toward some Boston ferns that were placed in the entryway, and said, “Toss those in the garbage and refresh this area with the plants you chose yesterday.”

Toss the ferns in the garbage? But they still looked pretty decent…they were still alive. I was paralyzed by indecision. Most of the time when I tell someone to throw something away, it’s because I either know that the plant in question won’t ever look any better than it does today, or I’m certain that it’s sick or infested with insects. These ferns didn’t fall into any of those categories, but were merely suffering from a period of neglect. Given new pots and some fertilizer, they’ll recover beautifully and be lovely for many years to come.

But I don’t need any Boston ferns, I told myself. I don’t have room for any more houseplants. Take your own advice, I said, thank them for coming, and dump them. I put them in a box, and told Susan I was taking them home.

Call it weakness, a momentary lapse in sanity, or a Christmas miracle. In any case, I’ll nurse them back to health, and find a new home for them in the springtime…maybe the Master Gardener’s Plant Sale will get some nice houseplants to sell next year. I do know that the next time someone looks at me with dismay after I’ve advised dumping a living plant, I hope that a part of my brain whispers “Boston ferns”.

It’s good that we occasionally have to walk our talk.

This is the best looking of the four ferns, so it goes in the front room.

This is the best looking of the four ferns, so it goes in the front room.

2 Responses to “Throw it Out?”

  1. 1
    Rhian:

    My trouble is I can’t even throw away my dead plants! I look at them with sadness and feel guilty that I probably neglected them, and then they sit there and chastise me and in theory make me look after my live plants more……in theory…..

  2. 2
    CL Fornari:

    Look at it this way, Rhian – if they’re dead they don’t have opinions one way or the other. I say, maybe they were ready for Hospice when you got them!