Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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November 17, 2013

11/17/2013 — Lee Ward: Houseplants to ornery to die

ASHLAND — A miracle is growing in my house. Actually, several miracles are growing in my house — in pots in the sunroom.

My husband had the sunroom full of plants. During winter months, I needed a machete to get out the back door.

I thought he had a green thumb but he said he just treated them like living things, which they are. He said I treated them like inanimate objects, which I did, and still do.

So it’s surprising that of the eight potted plants I kept after he died, they are all thriving.

Well, thriving is a strong word. The hanging basket looks as though it could be dead, so let’s say I’m seven out of eight with the plants, which is great for me.

I never really understood why people enjoyed growing houseplants. While they look pretty, they don’t produce any food. They can’t cuddle with you or keep you warm at night. They can’t repel burglars. Seeing as how I’m not about the superficial things, they just don’t meet much of a need in my life.

But these seven, these magnificent seven plants that insist on living despite my worst efforts, they are starting to mean something to me simply because they refuse to die.

There are the two baskets from my parents’ funerals. I don’t know what all’s in there and I’m sure I should have already dissected them and put each plant in its own pot, but that means I’d have even more potted plants and I don’t want that. I’m just going to leave them together. Some of them surely will die off naturally.

Then there are the three African violets. My negligence lets them dry out constantly, but they keep on keepin’ on; they even have beautiful, deep purple blooms most of the time. How is it possible? Like I said, it’s a miracle.

At times, my aloe plant has gotten so dry, it looked as if it were trying to lift itself out of its pot in search of water, but it survives. Plus, it doesn’t look pretty; it sacrifices itself every time I get a burn while cooking and takes my pain away. Now that’s a useful houseplant.

Last, and least because it gets the least attention, is the plant in the guest room. Talk about neglect. I forget it’s there; it gets watered about once a month, if it’s lucky. It reminds me of the plant I left on my porch when I lived in Beckley. I drew the shades one winter day and didn’t open them again until spring, which is when I remembered the plant because all there was left was a pot with dirt in it.

I don’t know what keeps these houseplants living unless they think I need them or they’re just as stubborn as I am.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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