Monday, 2 February 2015

Away with plants/ A way with plants

In 1992 the office of the civil service dept which employed me was in the process of moving, lock stock and barrel to another address.

This is, or was when I worked for them, a regular occurrence - lease ran out, new rent too high - find another building.

Having a final look round to see that nothing had been left behind I spotted a sad, forlorn, dryish looking variegated Tradescantia sitting miserably on the window sill of an empty room.

Knowing that the building would be likely to remain unoccupied for a very long time, I took pity on it and took it home with me.

Now at that time I quite fancied my chances as a gardener, unlike these days, but had an Achilles heel. Namely, pot plants.

Many people who knew I loved gardens and gardening thought, wrongly, that I also loved pot plants.

Not only could nothing have been further from the truth but, if anyone was unwise enough to make me a present of one, they had effectively sealed its fate.

The unfortunate green thing would take one look at me and die.  No matter how much care I took of it, its days were numbered.

This extremely boring green and cream leaved specimen was watered, placed on the kitchen window sill and left to get on with it.

Every few weeks my eye would alight on it and I would guiltily give it a huge drink, then forget it again.

About two years later I noticed it was looking a bit brown and crinkly so removed all the dead leaves
re-potted it in a larger pot, soaked it and fed it a few drops of Baby Bio which had somehow been left over from a previous attempt to save something.

To my surprise it flourished, the green was greener and the cream creamier and it was growing.

After that it got a 'haircut' about every 6 months or so and somewhere down the line was re-potted again.

A half-hour ago I realised that it was sitting green and relatively healthy on the window sill where it has lived for twenty-three years.

It is totally pot-bound almost compost-less and yet it still flourishes.

I have heard of plants which thrive on neglect, but this is just plain ridiculous.  At this rate it will outlive me.


  1. What a beautiful pic. You must have green fingers.

  2. Yes, it was a lovely rose, named "Just Joey", but is no longer with us.
    Did I mention the "Barnes" effect can apply to my garden flowers too.
    Green fingers? I don't think so, it is merely that some very strong plants survive despite my efforts. :-)

  3. Well done, however you did it! I, too have no luck with potted plants. Except once I managed to take a cutting from a poinsettia and got it to bloom again and live for two more years! Nothing compared to 23 though!

  4. Poinsettias are notoriously difficult to propagate so well done you.
    As for my ancient Tradescantia, I think it's doing it to spite me. It knows its rescue was a gut reaction not a well thought out plan, so it has planned to see me off.

  5. Well done, Ray. As I've always said, benign neglect is the way to go with pot plants. I once had a cyclamen in a pot for at least 6 or 7 years and it flowered every winter. I just used to stop watering it in spring and start again in autumn and it thrived.

  6. Contrary things aren't they Perpetua. I shall just carry on as I have been doing so far, but, that doesn't mean it's not trying to outlive me. :-)