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Spring fever



I've never had a green thumb. I own a few houseplants that were mainly received as gifts or hand-me-downs. And by some miracle of plant perseverance, they survive. It has little to do with me. If it weren't for this one plant (don't ask me what it is) that droops pitifully when lacking in water--but peps right up within one hour of getting it--the other plants might just have to die on me before I got a clue. Fortunately, once a week, there's Old Droopy in the corner. Time to water everybody.

My yard is a similar story. Years ago, someone obviously took great care in planting all manner of things there. Every so often, there is a great explosion of color and aroma. My über-gardener uncle came by when I first moved in and identified each of the plants for me. But, like guests at a long-ago party, their names now escape me. They go about their business and I go about mine, but now and then they enter my consciousness, and I'm always glad to see them.

Last year, some friends gave me a gift certificate to a local garden store. It is further testament to my horticultural slackness that it took me nine months to redeem it. It's a little overwhelming to be a non-plant guy in a totally plant-oriented environment. Kind of like walking into a graduate-level trigonometry course when you've just learned how to add.

I crept around the store stealthily, my face tight with intent so as to avoid betraying utter ineptitude. I regarded some bulbs thoughtfully. The directions seemed easy enough. I grabbed some day lilies and stuck them under my arm. I knew exactly where they would go, just outside my back door. Perfect. A gardenia caught my eye. It would replace the long-dead bush, a skeletal framework of twigs, out front. I stuck it under my other arm. With my left hand, I grabbed a bag of grass seed. Though I had no idea if grass would actually grow in the few bare patches around my yard, it seemed worth a shot. Finally, a pack of pumpkin seeds. Why not?

I could barely contain myself. Despite the late hour, I went home and planted everything. I removed the skeletal framework of twigs and put in the gardenia. I scattered grass seed liberally. I dug holes for the day lilies. I made mounds for the pumpkin seeds.

Lo and behold, one month later, the gardenia is blooming. Grass grows in the bare spots. Day lilies flourish outside the back door. And a few little fledgling pumpkin plants have popped up from their mounds.

Perhaps I have a green thumb after all.

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