Writes of Spring: In the Green or Black Death?

We Chicks are a hardy bunch–but our plant companions, maybe not so much. Read on for our withering tales of horticultural woe…

 Lisa Q. Mathews

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My husband calls me Roundup, which is totally unfair. I don’t kill plants dead, exactly. True, I’ve given up on growing anything outdoors, but I’ve had relative success with rescue plants I’ve moved inside. There’s a whole sad windowsill lineup of patients in the kitchen and what the previous houseowner optimistically dubbed the Plant Room. A hopeful tinge of green, a struggling shoot,  or a single blossom, and I’m the Little Prince(ss) faithfully caring for my precious Flower(s). Current projects:  a 4-year-old geranium from our family cemetery plot, a super-scraggly hibiscus that boasts exactly three gorgeous blooms per year (one just opened today!) and three Norfolk pines from Florida that will soon reach the ceiling but can’t endure the New Hampshire winters. Oh, and I always have luck with leftover shamrocks from St. Patrick’s Day!

Kellye Garrett


I wouldn’t have what you call a green thumb. If I were to star in my own mystery series, I would be the killer and the poor victim would be my poor plant! I moved into my apartment almost three years ago. As a housewarming gift, my mom and her husband got me a small, but beautiful potted plant because my mom felt that 1.) I couldn’t be the only thing living in my place and 2.) I probably wouldn’t kill it. And I haven’t…yet. Honestly, if this post went up a couple weeks from now, it might be a different story. One section is having a very slow, very painful, very drawn out death. Like no matter how much I water it or put it in direct sun light, it just keeps getting browner and browner and browner and browner. I don’t know what to do. It did come with instructions. But I got cocky after keeping it alive for three straight months and decided that I didn’t “need” any dang instructions. Guess I was wrong.

Ellen Byron


I call myself the Black Widow of plants. Above our front door, it should read, Abandon Hope, All Ye Flora That Enter Here. Miraculously, I have been able to keep about four houseplants alive out of the dozens that have entered these portals. And there’s an interesting story about one of those plants. It’s an orchid that was gifted to me by Gene, a senior neighbor, as a gesture of sympathy when President Bush was elected to a second term. The one thing we shared was a mutual dislike for his administration.

Gene gave me this plant in 2004. Now, normally orchids check into my house, and then check out about a week later. But this plant has survived for twelve years. In presidential years, that’s one Bush and two Obama terms. During that time, my elderly neighbor’s wife developed dementia and had to placed in a home. Gene moved a few years later, to where I don’t know. Derek Hough and another guy from Dancing With the Stars bought the house and did a total cheap gut for a show called Flipping With the Stars.

I wish I could find Gene and tell him that his orchid is still going strong.

  Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

Funny how I can plot out and write an entire mystery novel but I can’t keep plants alive. Let’s just say that if you had to water a book to make it grow, mine would be shriveled up in the corner. I love orchids, because they are only meant to last a month or two, so there’s no shame when the flowers die. I also have a peace lily that has managed to stay alive for years because when it needs water, it lets me know by drooping. Then when I give it water, it springs back to life. We have a pretty good system worked out. If only I could get the other plants to do the same!


Any green-thumbed wizards out there who can offer a few tips–or similar tales of woe? Plant them in the comments section below!



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