I HAVE black fingers. If I touch plants, they die.
As I survey my lounge room I can see a forest of sticks in pots. They vary in size from the ice lolly sticks to timbers like pit props. Anyone who didn’t know me would think my bean crop, when it comes up, was going to be magnificent.
The reality is that nothing grows in these pots. Not even disease. Weeds die. I see other incompetent pot plant growers and at least they have all kinds of other, unhealthy, unwanted green stuff growing rampant around their sticks.But my pots are as barren as the moon, and I did it.
When I started the place was a jungle. There were days when it would rain on you as you crossed the room. My wife went round wiping leaves and carefully applying magic growth juice to dark cavities among the roots with a watering can that reminds me of the kind of implement they give enemas with.
“Don’t touch them,” she growled. And I didn’t. Well… much. One, I noticed had a leaf with a bit of dirt on it, so I wiped it off. The next day the leaf was lying in the pot. By the end of the week the plant was a stick.
I muttered a few kind words to the one next to it and it went into terminal shock. My wife was furious but it’s not my fault. I can kill busy lizzies and no one can kill busy lizzies.
I apply fertiliser and it fells them like plantation pine. I water them and friends who know these things say: “Too much water.”
I withhold water and they say: “Needs a drink,” and all the time the leaves drop, the stems sag, the greenery turns brown and, eventually, green again. But that’s the rot setting in.
I walk into a room and vases of flowers close and try to hide behind the lamp stand. Pictures of flowers wilt.
I thought maybe it was a spiritual thing. Perhaps I carried the mark of the beast, in a botanical sort of way. So I bought a Venus fly trap. I mean, they eat lives things, that can scream. I fed it a fly but it must have been the wrong kind because the Venus fly trap died without a whimper.
There must be something I can grow besides shower curtain mould and hairs in my ears.
I don’t know why it’s important to me, except that I can’t. It’s got so bad I have been found weeping over saucers of ex-mustard and cress. Friends have been stopped making jokes about it since I started carrying an atomiser filled with weed killer. I can’t stand a braggart with a two-metre rubber plant.
There has got be something out there I can’t kill with neglect, or affection, or ignorance, or stupidity.
I could try growing sticks…