In 1975, I was about 21. I don’t know how trends start, but about that time people started collecting houseplants. Not plastic, not silk, but real ones — live ones. Boutique stores were all over town, selling dozens of plant varieties.
I succumbed and shopped and bought and filled my bedroom with them. I reasoned that I would get more oxygen from all the photosynthesis; (plants take carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen.)
6CO2 + 6H2O (+ light energy) C6H12O6 + 6O2.
I read about how to care for plants and that you should “talk” to them. To this day my sister teases me, “remember when you talked to your plants?” I had even signed up for a class in Westwood, California to learn about houseplants.
I propagated a plant species called “piggyback” and ended up with about 40 of them growing in my mom’s basement (it had windows down there.) You just snipped off the plantlet that was growing “piggyback” on the top of the leaf, and stick it in soil and magic — it grew.
Years later everyone was into silk plants. You didn’t have to water them, and you didn’t have to talk to them. But eventually they began to look like those junky plastic ones of another bygone era. My mom has close to 50 still.
I like growing things, but I never did get as many plants in my house. I got married and eventaully got a yard. And for many years I was tending my kids instead. The yard became a place for forts and treehouses, rabbits, dogs and cats, and a not-so great lawn. The one houseplant we had was our yearly Christmas tree. Some years we would just move it to the yard and bring it back in the house each December until it finally found its permanent home in the ground. Every home we live in has a tree or more planted in the yard.
I wrote about my Wisteria that I had planted from a small bare root of about 12 inches. It grew against the front of the house, lavendar blooms spilling over the eaves in the springtime. When we signed our papers on the sale of our home, that tree dropped all it’s seeds, the pods bursting open. In all those 12 years I had never seen that happen, and I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Was it the sale? My impending move?
I decided it was in celebration of the sale. There was this feeling of sadness though, and it seemed like I sensed the spirit of that tree. Now that is a little weird. Especially after those past years of talking to my houseplants to get them to grow. Later, after my move, my neighbors reported that the new homeowners tore it out. Yanked it right out of the ground. Butchered it. It is gone. Both the front and the back one. I guess it was not celebrating, it must have been weeping and making sure we gathered its seeds.
Its progeny. The final send off before its death. Because that is what we did.
On my moving day, when I was sick and down and out, my neighbor came over with a little potted plant, the seeds she had gathered were now planted and growing.Nibley says that we are to tend the earth. Man was placed here and given dominion over the living things. God commanded Adam to “be fruitful, and multiply… to replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over” every living thing in the biosphere (Abraham 4:28). I guess plants have a spirit of sorts. I wasn’t so stupid when I talked to them.