Digging in the dirt

Posted by Gail Gabrielson at 8 June 2011

Category: Memoir

Tags: ,

After two very hot days, I decided it was time to repot the two double impatiens I bought a couple of weeks ago. They’d been waiting on the deck table all this time and had fallen over in the wind. I’d watered them a couple of times, but they really looked beaten in the heat. After watering again, the plants perked up considerably.

I have a collection of pots and potting soil available for my indoor gardening hobby. The deck door is covered on one side with suspended shelves graced by hoyas, spider plants and philodendrons. I’d recently chopped down the philodendron that had grown from the entertainment center up the nearby doorjamb and around that to the clock on the other side of the door. 

That philodendron is now in front of the deck door, and I have a new philodendron on the entertainment center. Once it’s fully rooted and established, I think I’ll drag it to the office and decorate my desk or a file cabinet with it. Philodendrons will grow anywhere, using whatever light you give them.

I just don’t know what to do with my plants when they get so huge. I have one hoya in an planter that looks like a teacup. It would be a teacup for Paul Bunyan — it’s enormous. I can’t decide whether to take that one to the office or not. It would need a fairly large space, plus I think it likes a fair amount of sunshine — something that might be hard to find in the office. I took a small hoya to the office, and it’s been doing well. Maybe I’m being too protective.

At a previous office where I worked, the plants there were rented from a local nursery and someone from the shop came in to water and prune the plants. We recognized the women from the shop because they came prepared with watering cans and plant food. I couldn’t believe it when one day, the plant person came in and chopped a variegated philodendron to bits and tossed the bits into the garbage can. I asked her if I could get a clipping and she rescued a couple of the larger hunks from the trash. Those clippings have gone a long way.

The hoyas I have are the result of another clipping taken from a plant at another office where I worked. I exchanged the hoya clipping for a philodendron clipping. And now I have several hoyas, and have shared a couple of them with others, too — my mom and my son among them.

Impatiens are such considerate plants. When they droop, that means they want water. When the leaves turn yellow, they’ve had too much water, thank you very much. And they return the favor of water and plant food with beautiful blossoms year round. The only thing they lack is a scented blossom. And they are a rather messy plant, constantly dropping dead blooms and stems. But I like them anyway.

I took the two impatiens and repotted them in one large pot that would withstand the wind on the deck. The depth of the pot would ensure that I wouldn’t need to water them every day — maybe every other day. Getting dirt under my fingernails must be an acquired taste. It takes me back to being a kid and making mudpies, I guess. I never minded getting dirty. I liked the feel of the soil. I still like the feel of soil in my hands.

And my impatiens looked so fresh and healthy in their new pot, I didn’t set it back outdoors. I left it on the kitchen table to enjoy a while longer.

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