Death to House Plants

Tulips in large pots. In my house.
It was from an issue of Fine Gardening (or possibly Organic Gardening or Better Homes & Gardens - I get a lot of garden magazines) that I got the idea for the tulips. In the fall, you plant tulips in pots allowing them to overwinter in the cool dark garage. In the spring, simply place the pots outside and BLAM. Gorgeous tulips.

Late November found Julia and I diligently covering a pack of Sam's Club bulbs in plain top soil. We followed the magazine directions and the bulb package directions. We made these really neat circles of bulbs and talked about how wonderful it would be to watch them come up in the spring.

There was just one problem.

"You're going to put those in the garage?" my husband, Tim, asked.
"Yes," I told him. "They need to be cool, but not frozen."
"I might rent you the space," he said.

You see, Tim hates house plants. He despises pots of dirt and has a general disdain for any green living thing indoors. It's impossible to tell where this aversion came from. Was it his childhood? Does it have anything to do with the reason he won't eat ham?

There's a possibility I did it to him. We've known each other that long. I came to our marriage with a house plant. His name was Norman. Norman was a glorious Norfolk pine that my mom bought for me from the drug store. It was $1 because Norman and his brothers were nearly dead. I was about eleven-years-old.

After three out of the four Norfolk pine seedlings had died, I planted a spider plant in Norman's pot. Something about the aggressive root system of the spider plant really helped Norman. He grew tall and strong. By the time I married my husband a decade later, Norman sported a large wheeled pot. He was four feet tall and occasionally used as a Christmas tree.

Maybe our small apartment wasn't big enough for the three of us. Maybe Norman spilled his dirt one too many times. At any rate, when we moved from our first apartment to a townhouse, Norman didn't come with us. He went back to live on my parents' farm where he was left out on the patio on a cool fall night.

Norman is no longer with us.

My husband tries to enforce a ban on house plants. Things have happened since Norman that make it tough to blame the man. So these pots of dirt in his garage didn't go over that well. But he coped with them sitting dormant along the wall. They didn't spill dirt or sprout giant pines.

At the end of February I noticed the tulips starting to sprout. "No," I told them. "It's too soon. I can't put you outside yet!" The dirt in the pot had dehydrated leaving a good bit of space around the edges. I was able to buy myself a little time, about a week, by adding more dirt to the pots to cover the green shoots.

The tulips were determined and the weather just won't cooperate this year. I was forced to have a very difficult discussion.

"I have bad news," I told Tim. "The tulips need light. I have to bring them upstairs."

He objected, but I have an ally in my daughter, Julia. A Dad can't kill his kid's stuff. It wouldn't be right.

The tulips are in my kitchen, ironically one is using Norman's wheely pot for its drip pan. Every week, I check the weather to figure out when the tulips will be able to go outside. They're never going to make it.

One morning Tim said, "I have bad news. Julia noticed there are mushrooms growing in one of the tulip pots and she said they're going to have to go outside immediately." He's also said they looked like the were making a rude gesture at him.

It took very little effort to prove that Julia didn't say the pots needed to go outside. She knows what's up.

So they're fully bloomed, foredoomed to die in my kitchen having never seen the glory of spring. And shooting a hearty quantity of their dirt onto the floor every day. And preventing us from freely opening or closing the blinds. Or walking a full lap around the breakfast table.

In short, the tulips are a pain. A really beautifully exquisite spring-like pain. Don't tell my husband.

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