Plants are strange creatures when you really think into it. I bet even calling a plant a “creature” made you feel a bit off, eh? We don’t think about plants as being alive, as being well, beings. I guess I can’t speak for everyone here, but I find keeping plants alive to be quite the challenge.
I mean animals… I get animals. You feed them, you pet them, you heal them when they’re hurt. Maybe it’s because I am an animal, but I find them to be so much more simple than plants. Maybe it’s that plants seem simple that gets me. “A little water, a little sun and BAM, you have a plant,” says my head. Wrong. So wrong. I once had a 12-year-old bonsai tree I got from Maui. I had to carry the thing home on my lap, all the way back to Denver. This tree and I had a connection. I loved my tree. The problem was that I didn’t understand my tree. This thing needed me to water it daily, keep it humid, give it a soak bath once a week and jeez was it temperamental about the sun. “Not too much or I’ll crisp! Not too little or I’ll wilt. These old bones need consistency!”
I’ve always been so jealous of my mother’s ability to take care of plants. I can’t lie and say I haven’t taken my plants to her to heal on more than one occasion. I don’t know how she does it. I truly don’t. Plants get around my mom and radiate. Not me though. Nope. I’m walking, talking plant cyanide. I can almost see the plants in my home cringe every time I walk close, as if I’m some sort of large-footed giant, ready to trample the garden. Oh plants, I just wish you knew how badly I want to understand you. I just want to give you life.
Jeff and I went to the greenhouse in North Denver a few months ago and picked up some succulents. I like to think of succulents as my training wheels. They’re harder to kill than other plants. They’re obstinant and want to live, unlike my finicky bamboo plant, Raekwon, who I swear has a death wish just to spite me. No, not succulents though. They’re happy to not be watered everyday. They only need so much care. They’re made for me.
Part of the reason I like plants so much is because of the ways humans relate to them. Have you ever thought about how much lore we have surrounding plants? Garlic protects us from vampires, clovers with 4 leaves make us lucky, onions can cure colds. Some plant lore is certainly more true than other plant lore, but it goes to show how very little we know about plants as a species. We have no problems eating them, looking at them, harvesting them, cooking them or walking right over them, but isn’t it strange that so many of us never really understand them?
Maybe I’m digging in too deep here, but part of my goal of living a more aware, present and curated life has led me to a more plant-based diet. It’s not a far stretch saying that knowledge of plants could certainly enrich our lives. Knowing which plants heal and which might help you survive the zombie apocalypse (always my first thoughts), which ones could hurt you or which ones grow the best in high altitudes could all benefit my life. I just bought this book, which officially makes me a little bit of a nutcase, but I can’t help it. I want to know!
I also have to admit that when Jeff and I walk around and he can point out different types of basil and mustard plants and can tell me which kinds of weeds are best in veggie tacos, I get a little… well I feel sorta inept. How cool is that, just knowing how to harvest plants before they flower or which leaves to pick off the bottom of a stem to suck on if you have a sore throat? I think it’s cool.
Do you guys have any plant knowledge you want to pass on to me? Or good places to get plant knowledge? Do share.