May 9, 2007

The Sad Sad Suicide of Beauty

Sometimes, when I do a book club visit, they get me a little SOMETHING to remember them by. It’s often chocolate, which I used to eat, I remember, back in the beautiful misty yesterday before I realized I couldn’t fit in any of my PANTS and had to stop, you know, eating things that taste good in favor of highly nutritive sawdust and herbal supplements… Now I feed the chocolate to my children who have taken to asking, all casual like, “Got any book clubs scheduled, Mom?” with Sugar Avarice shining lamp-like in their eyes.

Sometimes it is wine, which, all I have to say about THAT is, YAY! The last one I went to got me a very UNUSUAL little something, a charming and unexpected never-before-given thing, but alas! It made my heart quail with mingled love and terror.

It was a pot of Gerber Daisies. ALIVE ones. With ROOTS.

This book club did not know two things:

Thing one is, Gerber daisies are my favorite flower IN THE UNIVERSE. I love the shape, the rich fall-like colors, the cheerful wide roundness of their open faces surrounded by the petals. OH! OH! LOVE! I am not a BEAUTY OF THE EARTH flower type person, but Gerber Daisies speak to me, and they always have---Tulips, too, for some reason. When people send me daisies or tulips, my kitchen is a happy place for days, and I tend to warble while I do the dishes.
But. Thing two is….I kill plants.

Plants, in fact, secretly call me Sweeny Joshilyn, the Demon Gardener of Death Street, and when I take a wrong turn and accidentally walk through the garden section of Home Depot, all the little pots of flowering perennials begin to pray fervently to their green and rooty gods, “Please, please,” they pray, “Let the killer pass on by. Not me. OH PLEASE NOT ME.” Because if I do INSANELY decide to buy a plant, that plant’s days are numbered, and its death will be black spotted and slimy and excrutiating.

So I am given this POOR DOOMED blooming gerbera by a well meaning book club, and normally when some sad plant is foolishly handed over into my protection, I gamely take a run at it, and it slowly and agonizingly dies, and then I put the pot in the shed and shrug. But, see, THIS WAS GERBER DAISIES. And I LOVE them in a way I am never going to love, like, the usual household ferns or waxy leaved whatnots. And I didn’t even know Gerbers CAME potted, and that you could have them, ALIVE AND GORGEOUS, cheering one’s house up much longer than CUT ones, which die in a few days.

SO! I got this insane idea. SELF! I said to myself. SELF! You are going to take care of this plant properly and YOUR FRIEND THE GOOGLE will tell you how to make it thrive and be beautiful forever,


Let me just tell you, the only plant I ever managed to keep for more than a few weeks was this HARDY little cactus I got back in college. I was SO charmed by its inability to be killed by me that I moved it with me from Florida to Athens to Atlanta back to Florida and then to Chicago. In Chicago, Scott picked up its little pot and looked at it, and I waxed rhapsodotic about how I had managed to keep it alive and its name was Rexy and we had traveled lo half the country together, and blah blah etc and how once I had even accidentally STORED it in a U BOXIT SHED for a few a weeks and STILL it clung to life, looking exactly the same as it had when I got it.

He gave me pitying eyebrows.

Him: Don’t you think that’s a little odd, that it looks exactly the same as when you got it? I mean, considering that that was more than six years ago?
Me: What do you mean?
Him: I mean, six years, and it is still in this same tiny starter pot. No changes at all, really?
Me: Oh. You think I have stunted it?
Him: *gently* No. No. Not stunted it, per se. It’s a little, um….fossilized.

So I came over and gave it a HARD pinch and it…crumbled. Into little rocky dusts. So. Yeah.

BUT this time, I was sure, it would all be different because I do not LOVE cactuses like I LOVE gerber daisies.

So things have gone well for a few weeks. And then TODAY the blooms looked a little…droopy. They looked down sadly at the tabletop instead of facing me. And so I said to it (THE GOOGLE says it is good to talk to plants) I said to it, “YOU need a speck of lovely morning sunshine!” And I put it out on the back deck in the middle fo my big table.

UNFORTUNATELY, while it sat outside and I took Maisy to preschool, something mysterious happened. I cannot figure it out. I THINK the climbing rose bush by the stairs must have told the Gerber EXACTLY who now owned it, and the Gerber, fearing its impending long slow torturous demise, just….exploded. Blew itself to smithereens. Suicided using the methane from passing cow toots or borrowed dynamite from the monkey grass. That must be what happened, because I can’t figure out any other explanation for THIS….


Posted by joshilyn at May 9, 2007 10:05 AM

Hmmm. Could the oh-so-innocent dog have contributed to the gerber's demise?

Posted by: Deborah P at May 9, 2007 10:15 AM

Maybe the Gerbera pleaded with the dog for a mercy killing?

Posted by: Lisa at May 9, 2007 10:28 AM

Your puppy looks mysteriously calm in face of the obvious tornado that blew through. Have you looked in his mouth for any signs of gerber leavins??

Posted by: sweetpam at May 9, 2007 10:32 AM

hahahahaha! ahem.. I mean... how tragic. *snicker*

Posted by: aka Nik at May 9, 2007 10:49 AM

My dear husband likes to tell people their is a wanted poster of me at the local plant nursery.
I have murdered every plant that has ever come into my home. Now I have many beautiful silk flower arrangements that I have created with my own hands (and a little help from the fake flower florist at Micheals and husband's credit card... :)

Posted by: Anette at May 9, 2007 11:03 AM

That is so sad! Not just knocked over but completely and utterly destroyed beyond salvage. Oh, I feel your pain!

The bagel-dog is giving his best, "I'm so CUTE you couldn't POSSIBLY be even a little bit mad at me, right?" face.

Posted by: Jennifer G. at May 9, 2007 11:26 AM

Wow, I am flummoxed. Bagel doesn't really fit the crime.

1) no dirty paw marks
2) the pot remains on the table
3) all debris remains on the table

I would think squirrel, but they usually only go after bulbs (just ask me)

I'm beginning to think someone is having their way with you blackthumbed reputation.

Posted by: Cele at May 9, 2007 12:18 PM

That is too weird. I, too, doubt that Bagel had anything to do with it unless he and Schubert somehow managed to put the pot back on the table. Keep us posted if you solve the mystery!

I'm having major African violet problems right now. A couple of weeks ago my wonderful, sweet, 4 year-old son saw the violets at Lowe's and decided I must have them. African Violets are NOTORIOUSLY hard to keep alive, especially the blooms!! My husband keeps looking at me askance and asking me accusingly if I've watered it recently while the blooms fall off one by one. The more I try to tell him it's not my fault, the more defensive I sound!

Posted by: Leandra at May 9, 2007 12:26 PM

At last, a truly compelling reason for me to get a dog. Because nobody is buying my oft repeated claims of "it's the kitties. They are somehow causing all the plants in the house, as well as the ones very recently planted in the front flower bed (also known as "The great flower graveyard" where packs of flowers travel across the state, to be purchased at the Target and transported to their final resting place to die. In big, elephanty packs. As nature intended...) to die, die, sadly and wiltilly die!"

Gotta get me a dog...

Posted by: Femtastic at May 9, 2007 12:37 PM

By the way -- when I first came OUT and saw the exploded plant, I should tell you that Bagel was STANDING in the middle of the table. No doubt he used the chairs as a staircase to get up there and see what that loud BOOM was.



Posted by: Joshilyn at May 9, 2007 12:39 PM

Poor Bagel.
Poor Gerbers.
Poor Joss.

I still want linky love on your life plan. Just give it to us in a comment if you want, you don't even have to have a whole post for it. PLEASE. :)

Posted by: dee at May 9, 2007 12:46 PM

Oh, I forgot, your story of the cactus was too funny. When my husband and I first got married we bought two adorable little cacti from Wal Mart and one of them had a beautiful yellow bloom on it. One day about a year later we were sitting on the step, marveling at our hardy cacti and remarking on the fact that the yellow bloom still looked great. I reached over to touch the bloom and it fell off. It wasn't real and had been HOT GLUED to the top of the cactus!!

Please don't be too mad at Bagel. It sounds like it was a mercy killing. ;)

Posted by: Leandra at May 9, 2007 12:48 PM

Oh the carnage and horror! This blog should have a higher rating... a warning of some sort about the Gerber Daisy snuff pictures...

Posted by: Heather Cook at May 9, 2007 12:55 PM

I would think squirrel, but they usually only go after bulbs (just ask me)

So that's what happened to my potted tulips! I was thinking raccoon (I can see a raccoon doing this), but if squirrels do...greedy buggers, they have a whole pecan tree to fatten up on in my yard.

Posted by: Sabra at May 9, 2007 12:58 PM

I am sorry sorry about your flowers, but I am a little relieved to know I'm not the only one who kills plants no matter how much I faithfully water them. Someone who thought they were being nice to me gave me some potted miniature roses which started to droop after only one week. I rushed them over to a landscaper I know in hopes that he will be able to save them.

As for the "suicide", this looks like a case for the CSI plant division. They will surely want prints on Bagel, Schubert, and any other squirrels and stray cats in the general area.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 9, 2007 1:17 PM

Maybe he thought he'd buried a bone in there?

Posted by: Stephanie at May 9, 2007 1:27 PM

I was just thinking yesterday that we were overdue for a Bagel story and photo, but I didn't exactly mean THIS. Ahem.

Maybe the Gerber said "feeeed me" in a deep, scary voice and Bagel was protecting his family. Yeah, I bet that's what happened.

Posted by: DebR at May 9, 2007 1:34 PM

I think Saywah might have did it!

Posted by: Papa at May 9, 2007 2:04 PM

You know, in my house the cat is always the plant killer. Well sometimes me tto, but if I bring flowers or a flowering plant into the house, DC is all over it. And he's not satisfied until all the flowers are gone.

Are you sure that Schubert did not set Bagel up?

Posted by: Terri at May 9, 2007 2:10 PM

Classic "Oh was that Yours?" look on Bagel's face there. I know that look well, though normally it's on my horse... just after she's EATEN every rose bloom in sight.

Perhaps it sighed in the morning sun and he thought he was protecting you from the evil Gerber daisies?

Posted by: dragonfly at May 9, 2007 2:23 PM

That is the face my dog makes after she calmly and meticulously pulls up all my tulips and lays them in a perfectly straight line like little dead soldiers.

All my plants are now in hanging baskets and I saw her eyeing those the other day, too.

Posted by: megan at May 9, 2007 3:08 PM

The book club put a bomb in the bottom of your Gerbera daisy? What's up with that?

Posted by: Edgy Mama at May 9, 2007 3:22 PM

Oh my! The look on Bagel's face is classic! But then again...check out his tail. It's wagging to the 'left' side of his body! Which according to an article in the New York Times (no less) and also was reported on Good Morning America, means: Tail to the left is indicating 'negative' feelings like aggreesion or is indicating 'fearfulness' as oppossed to wagging to the 'right' side meaning calm and happy and all things wonderful. Sooooooo what's the back story here with Bagel? He wanted to go in the car with you? He wanted a nice yummy Milk Bone and he gets a plant? Or.....maybe his tail is just pointing to Schubert.

Posted by: -jean at May 9, 2007 4:01 PM

I think you are very lucky. Me, I do not LIKE the plants, and yet I have a glorious green thumb. I was given an african violet by my dear husband for a wedding present, and it is the plant from HELL that not only will not die, it thrives and shoots off babies and has taken over every windowsill in my kitchen and dining room. And I can NOT kill it or its babies as parent (and by extension offspring) are gifts of my beloved. I have given away POTS and POTS of violets to everyone I know. And I dream of the violet-killer that will break in and destroy only plants, relieving me of both the burden and the guilt of caring for these monsters. But no, I have fountains of lovely purple blooms blossoming everywhere just to spite me. Perhaps the key fertilizer is guilty loathing?

Posted by: Jen H. at May 9, 2007 4:25 PM

That was a wonderful comic payoff. Made me laugh out loud.

I'm hopeless with plants, but I figure, hey, I can keep the kids alive and thriving. I figure that's FAR more important. After my first baby was born, my mother-in-law brought over a plant. My plant-killing tendencies were already well known to me, and I put the thing on the top shelf of the bookcase and ignored it. I thought, Isn't it enough I'm taking care of a NEWBORN? I'm supposed to remember to water a plant, too?

Posted by: amy at May 9, 2007 8:35 PM

I think Schubert did it and then told Bagel there was a special surprise in store for him if he'd just climb up on the table and wait for you to come home.

Either that or wandering pirates.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at May 9, 2007 9:24 PM

Um, that would be wandering VEGAN pirates. Who were, you know, kinda hungry and stuff.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at May 9, 2007 9:25 PM

First of all, I am impressed with Bagel's athleticism- that he could even get his way down low to the ground self up there is quite an accomplishment! And you have to admire his work ethic. No halfhearted mauler of plants is he. Maybe he could use his powers for good? I have some aggressive mint that is taking over my herb garden... And think how fresh his breath would be!!

Posted by: Laura at May 9, 2007 10:22 PM

Okay, I thought I had a black thumb, but girl, you are the queen of Black Thumb! That is not just talent, that is a gift!

Posted by: jennielynn at May 9, 2007 10:27 PM

Oh we must be related somehow, Peach! I have a friend who owns a nursery (the plant kind, not the baby kind) and he gave me all kinds of plants, and they all died horrible deaths. He finally gave me a succulent he said I couldn't kill. It grew and grew and thrived and was wonderful.

I forgot to transplant it and it died of being root bound. He now gives me pictures of unicorns and pegasi. Pegasuses. Winged horses. Flying red horse a la John Gorka.

Fortunately I don't have to prove myself now. I can grow flowers outside, and the cats eat anything plant-like inside, so it's not MY fault we can't have lovely green growing things in the house!

My story. Sticking to it.

Posted by: Fran at May 9, 2007 10:45 PM

You mean you can make African Violet babies, Jen H? I have one and I also can't kill it no matter what. I can kill every other plant in the universe quite easily. I mentioned to my own beloved that perhaps I should buy more, because I *do* like Violet, as we call her, but you can subdivide her, huh? Who knew?

Posted by: Julie at May 9, 2007 11:28 PM

Oh dear. I wish I had a doggie that killed mine. Or a cat. Or an elephant. Everything that comes to my house, otherwise known as Death Row, passes due to no one but me. And I do all I can to keep it alive. I just don't understand how I can grow two handspme sons but kill every green thing that comes into thehouse.

Dad died in November, my mother in law in March. I have gobs of plants sent by loving and caring friends and I can see them withering daily, I have the answer. It's not you and it's not me. It's the monthly service of the exterminator! Yeah, that's it. If you dont have a service plan, get one. It's a great excuse. I mean explanation for plants not living in a house.

Also, that's why I plant annuals in the flowerbed. A seven by twelve plot of dirt can look really good for a couple of months. Then when they start begging for the Lord to take them home, it's almost fall. Time for things to die down. "Not my fault. It's autumn"

Posted by: Rhonda at May 10, 2007 12:33 AM

At least it was swift and merciful.

Posted by: Brigitte at May 10, 2007 6:43 AM

Well maybe if you hadn't walked around talking about how much you LOVE gerber daisies, this wouldn't have happened. You know doggies don't like to share...

BTW, Julie - pick a leaf with the stem from your African Violet and plant it in potting soil. It will take some time, but a new plant will grow from it.

Posted by: Nienke at May 10, 2007 10:32 AM

Oh. My. Goodness.
You are so funny! I laughed so hard that I cried! At first, I thought that I could SO relate to you but I have never made a plant EXPLODE before!! I did kill an air plant once (yup, it only needs air to live and somehow I killed it!!!) but you... that is some talent you have!

Thank you!!!

Posted by: Melanie Marie at May 12, 2007 9:04 PM

the post was very funny indeed but that last paragraph with the photo of the carnage was too much. Hey - Happy Mother's Day!!!

Posted by: dara at May 13, 2007 2:07 PM

My dog had that same innocent expression when I came home from work one evening to find water spraying from a hose in the back of my refrigerator. She was wet--as was most of the downstairs.
I comforted the poor animal--between drying floors, etc. She was wet and scared. We snuggled. I told her it was OK.
Until the refrigerator repairman came to investigate and showed me small--but undoubtedly canine--teethmarks along the hose!

Posted by: LoryKC at May 13, 2007 5:57 PM

This is why the Weimeraner stays in his pen when we are out. I'm so tired of cleaning up the garbage he manages to get into when my back is turned for ONLY a few minutes! Now he started on the vegetation in the yard. His latest is to try to pull my small (4-6') trees which I lovingly nurture right out of the ground!!

Posted by: Therese at May 14, 2007 10:50 AM