Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Plant StoriesSpeaking of plants, I lost the rubbe...

Nancy Kilpatrick Writer: Plant Stories
Speaking of plants, I lost the rubbe...
: PLANT STORIES Speaking of plants, I lost the rubber tree over the winter. The previous winter it contracted a disease of some sort and ...

Plant Stories

Speaking of plants, I lost the rubber tree over the winter. The previous winter it contracted a disease of some sort and everything died, or so I thought. Then, last fall, as I was ready to dump the pot's contents onto the soil on ground level, a friend noticed a minuscule bit of green on one of the thick stalks where I'd cut it down, hoping to save it. I nurtured that tiny leaf and it grew and another 2 little leaves also sprouted from the same stalk, but once they had become full-grown leaves they began to die until everything was gone again, this time with no resurrection.

I kept the remains of the rubber tree throughout the rest of this winter and when the weather turned a bit, put it on the sun porch to get light and warmth, but that didn't change anything. Then I put it outdoors and still nada. It sat on the deck table for a couple of weeks, nothing changing, and a few days ago I returned it to the earth via dumping the pot's contents onto the ground soil. What a shame. That tree belonged to Melanie, a woman who was one of my ex-boyfriend's roommates many years ago. When she went back to France, the tree had 5 or 6 leaves and she gave it to a mutual friend who is not a plant or pet lover. The tree did not thrive and when that woman moved up north the tree was down to 2 forlorn-looking leaves. I took it out of pity for the poor tree and treated it like the tropical plant it was. The tree flourished and had dozens of leaves that grew large outdoors every summer, dark green and healthy, and I had to repot the tree a couple of times over the last 12 years or so it had been with me until it became heavy to carry in and out. But then all the leaves dried up 2 winters ago and what I said above transpired. The most I can figure is that it had a fungus infection, since I saw no bugs.

Another plant I rescued 15 years ago had a different outcome. It is an ivy of some sort, and belonged to a man who lived in one of the 6 apartments in the building I lived in at that time. He was moving to a Seniors' residence and had to get rid of things. As the neighbors gathered to say goodbye to him, he told me I could go in and take what I wanted, which ended up to be a pathos and the ivy.

The pathos has had ups and downs but the ivy did well, until all of a sudden it didn't. I researched on the net and determined it had had contact with some sort of fungus. It was recommended that the plant be repotted but first washed thoroughly down to the roots. I did this. It revived. Then got sick again. I washed it to the roots, put it in new soil, it thrived. Until it didn't. All in all I did this 4 times and now, for the last 5 years, the plant has grown and thrived and looks lovely, larger than when I first rescued it.

I'd like them all to live. I'd like them all to thrive. I'd like to be the catalyst for plant growth in my apartment, on my deck, in my life. I do the best I can, but some things are out of the control of my vaguely green thumb, or maybe I just don't have the knowledge and/or skills to keep every plant in my possession alive. Some plants are easier than others anyway, like the pathos--which I now have 2 of, having acquired another one. And the Sansevieria, which began as a cutting from my ex's plant. My hanging spider plant keeps on growing too. But some plants are tougher than others to care for, maybe more fragile, like the delicate shamrock that was impossible to maintain, or the Ladyslipper orchid that barely lasted a week. But of all the plants I have raised, the one that I'm currently most upset about is the purple lilac bush I planted in the backyard in 2004. It has grown into a small tree, every year bursting into full bloom with the gorgeous flowers and intoxicating scent that brings a smile to my face as I stand on my second floor deck and inhale. I love this bush/tree.

Last fall, my neighbor on one side convinced himself that suddenly, after 5 years of his gardening and growing food, my lilac bush was responsible for his plants not doing as well as he'd like them to. He said the lilac blocked the light to his yard. I could see that was not so, he just had a bad year, as happens with vegetable gardens. I used to grow veggies myself so I know how it goes. And, of course, he didn't replenish the soil. He insisted I cut down the 'tree' as he called the lilac. I said maybe my ex would come over and trim it. I asked. The ex didn't want to. And I hadn't seen or had contact with this building's owner for almost a year, since I pay my rent by post-dated checks.

Mid-May, I went out onto my deck to organize some of the deck furniture, check the planters, etc., and looked over the railing to the lilac which was getting near blooming. But the lilac looked small, and not particularly healthy and I couldn't figure out why. Maybe it had a hard time with the winter, but the winter had been fairly mild for this climate, anyway. I walked to the end of the deck only to discover that someone had apparently placed a ladder against the fence, climbed it, and cut the lilac bush down at the back, so only the front had leaves and blossoms and the poor tree suffered from this assault. Lilacs, I knew, had to be pruned in a certain way, and only in 2 time slots, and then the bush would not bloom for a couple of years.

Am I mad at the neighbor for chopping up the lilac bush? Yes, of course. Am I going to confront him about trespassing on property to prune a bush that doesn't belong to him? No. I no longer own this duplex which means I don't own the lilac bush either. And I'm up to my blurry eyes with work these past months and will be into the next few months and do not want to spend my energy being furious over a confrontation with someone who will not have a clue as to what I'm talking about. I need my energy for my work. And there's no real recourse. The lilac is another victim on a planet of cretins.

The lilac bush produced only about 8 or 9 blossoms of the tiny purple flowers. The scent was lovely for a couple of days. If I could climb a ladder without getting dizzy and the threat of falling to my death, I'd try to re-cut it in a sensible way this fall, one of the optimal times for pruning. But I can't, so I won't, but I will hope that the bush survives the attack. I wish it well, this bush I planted with my own hands so many years ago.

My lilac (l)
The fence that does not make good neighbors
His vegetable garden (r)