Friday, March 16, 2007

brown thumb

I just planted it, and already the oregano's days are numbered. Not one single plant I've put in the ground has lived longer than a few weeks. My humble patio garden contains a half dozen hybrid tea rose bushes, a "tree" in each corner (oleander and bird-of-paradise), inviting jasmine, and a wall of lush creeping fig. All of those were here when we moved in almost three years ago. The sweet alyssa I used as a groundcover between the roses died within a few weeks (I know it's just an annual - but come on - a few months would have been nice). The Mediterranean herbs I planted in a cedar box died before they even reached six inches tall. The coleus was eaten by snails. The heliotrope was scorched soon after planting by 100+ degree head one horrendous April day. You know you're in trouble when a sun-loving plant dies from too much sun.

But hope springs eternal in the human breast, or so Alexander Pope tells me. We were visiting next door today, and the neighbors' nanny and I got to talking about gardening. Oregano, rosemary, and spearmint were thriving (in fact, the spearmint was thriving a bit too much, but I guess they never heard the recommendation to pot it separately because of its invasiveness). Then I find out the neighbors never use any herbs from their patio garden. They rip out oregano when it starts to get out of control, then drive down the street to buy oregano at the supermarket! The nanny proceeded to rip out some oregano and throw it over my fence, telling me to plant it as soon as I get home. Well, what else was I supposed to do? I could compost it or plant it - either way it will end up as organic fertilizer.

I had never tried to plant anything in that stretch of dirt. Chris had ripped out a thriving fennel plant when we first moved in (although I can't recall why), but perhaps he wouldn't have done that if he'd have known about the curse of the brown thumb. Anyway, I must have hauled away at least 20 pounds of clay and roots. I suspect the thin roots are from the uninvited clover that has been growing in my garden. I let it be because it was making dainty yellow flowers, and finally, I had ground cover between my roses. I filled in the space with the last of my organic soil, moistened it thoroughly, and crossed my fingers I'd have better luck with this plant.

Little does it know it just met its doom.

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