Plant porn Phriday: titillating tuber


Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday… and almost summer too!

Hooray for sun! Hooray for gardening! Hooray for plant porn!

Big thanks to my cousin Nicole, who shares my endless amusement with saucy specimens, for this “Dicktater.” The punch line really makes it.

As for me? Almost speechless.

Nature’s bounty never ceases to amaze!

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Wanted: plant thieves with “cojones the size of bowling balls”

Ostrich fernsSo… it’s been awhile since I shared any botanical crime news. But this story out of East Hampton, N.Y., is kinda crazy. Both for what was stolen — 60 ostrich fern plants (sixty!) — and for the gardener’s reaction.

Enraged landscape designer/ victim Kevin Keyser stuck a sign in his yard, offering a $1,000 reward for the “low life” who stole his plants. He also installed security lights and cameras, started a neighborhood watch and told the NY Post, “These guys better hope the cops get them before I do.”

Now, I’ve gotten worked up over plant jacking, for sure. But threatening bodily harm? He must love him some ostrich ferns! (Have to say, they don’t do much for me, but I’m not a huge fern fan, myself.)

He also told reporters, “Either they’re an idiot or they have cojones the size of bowling balls.”

I’m not sure, but I bet anyone with cojones the size of bowling balls might have trouble carting away 60 ferns.

Just sayin’.

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Destiny’s kale


Meet the Beyonce of kale!

I was wondering a month ago who was alive under all that snow… what gruesome green creature might emerge.

And here we have it: Destiny’s kale.

She’s a survivor! She’s not goin’ give up!

Destiny's Child

I have a lot to tell about the garden right now. About rich, moist, poison-free soil and dozens of wee kale plants (went a little kale-crazy at the farm stand). About lettuce and seed trays and sun and shade. And a little boy making mud pits with the hose and looking for worms. It’s going to be an awesome, veggie-filled summer, I can feel it! My first.

But for now, I’ll just honor this lone surviving kale plant from last year’s ridiculous late, late planting experiment. I truly can’t believe anything could survive under all those feet of relentless snow last winter. And spring up, looking just as good as all of its fresh-from-the-greenhouse neighbors.

I put a commemorative stake by her, so she doesn’t get lost in the shuffle this summer.

Looks like I’ll eat something I planted last fall yet!

Alone again... naturally

Alone again… naturally

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Winter, let loose your icy grip!


Happy Easter, shugs!

I just found it funny that the snow in my yard has now melted almost everywhere EXCEPT the garden. The snow is like… you want in here? Too bad!

I can’t wait to see if my “late-season” kale is still alive under there. Or — even creepier — if it comes back.

Return of the living kale!

kale monster

Like all New Englanders, who soldiered bravely through feet and feet and months of months of relentless snow this winter, I am READY for spring.


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That’s why they call it window pain…

The end 2012

Yep, it really is over.

I love how these once-hopeful plant markers now look like little headstones. Oh, New England. I love your beautiful winter grimness.

Meant to post this a few weeks ago, when the first big snow hit and the final surviving mini kale got buried for good. Prior to the dump, the little guys were hanging on. Not thriving, mind you. Just stayin’ alive at about six inches tall.


But I digress…

My hope was, of course, to eat just one leaf this year. And declare victory. But I just kept waiting for the plants to get, you know… kale-sized. And then the snow came. Na ja, as the Germans say. And next year…(as the Sox fans say).

I haven’t been here for a few months. I was inspired to return with this inevitable report by a conversation with a long-lost friend today, who — it turns out — has become a master gardener during our many years apart. Our long talk made me immensely happy, a little teary and very grateful for the magic of Facebook. It also inspired me to visit my much-neglected blog.

(Sidenote: if you’ve lost a dear friend for 20-some years and suddenly find her online, send that message and make the call! I’ve been working on a theory that those we love, we love forever. Even when we lose each other for decades. Today went into my growing “theory confirmed” pile. People’s spirits don’t change, just the details of their lives. Thank you, Jana, for still being you… and being happy to hear from me!)

But back to gardening. Winter sucks! This b.s. of trying to keep plants alive indoors sucks! It’s no fun. (Sorry to all the true houseplant lovers.) As my friend said today, “that’s why we have seasons.” I guess so. (You can believe I will be calling said friend plenty throughout the coming seasons… I warned her, she’s my new master gardener consultant. I’ll take phone a friend, please!)

My windowsills are filled to capacity with friends yearning for light and warmth. Some will probably make it through the next few months, and live to see the summer sun once more. Others, well…

Dead coleus end 2012

That was my favorite Coleus. The ruffly purple and green one that’s survived two summers outside and one winter inside already. I still have a baby version alive in a pot. It’s not dead yet, but looking a little “leggy” and dead-stemmy.

As Eminen would say, “That’s why they call it window pain.”


RIP mommy Coleus.

And Godspeed, little offshoot!

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A little re-leaf… please!

Ba da bump.

Uggghhhh… guess what I did this weekend? Yep. This is just one of about six mammoth piles of leaves I raked up and carted to the “compost” pile. (Compost is in quotes because I just throw a bunch of shit in a pile and think it will magically someday turn into something good for the garden. I am pretty sure I’m supposed to be turning it and such. But that’s just not making the list these days.)

You know how you think you’re in great shape until you do something really different? Like, uh, actual hard work? My upper back is still feeling it, as are the backs of my thighs. (Thank you, wheelbarrow and hilly yard.) And that was just the front yard. Not even addressing the back and side yards yet.

I wasn’t planning to rake this early. I figured I’d just let it all fall and do it once. But when I looked out the window Saturday morning, my entire yard and the street in front of it, and my front steps, were literally buried in horse chestnut leaves. (Yes, this is the same tree that rains intense crap all year long, from dangerous, dive-bombing chestnuts to some weird yellow powdery droppings to giant branches. Love you, horse chestnut!)

But I figured it would rain soon, and then I would just be one mailman-wipeout away from a major lawsuit. So out I went with the rake and broom and wheelbarrow. It took many hours. The toddler jumping in the piles did not help. (But what Grinch can deny a kid a giant leaf pile? Mean mommy had to chill for at least a few runs.)

And I have no doubt it will look exactly the same a week from now. Oh, fall…

In other news, some friends in my garden have gone to the Great Beyond. As my leaf-scattering son reported this weekend, “Mommy, I have something to tell you. Some of your plants have died. But other people are still alive.” (Yes, Mitt, just like corporations, plants are people are too!)

The beans are out…

The squash is living up to its name…

But the kale and peas are hanging tough. As my gardening guru friend Heather said, “Go veggies, go!”

If I eat one thing I planted this year, I will consider that a major success. Here at Plantkiller, the bar is looooooowwwwwww.

Posted in Hateful plants, Smells like... success, Wallowing in death | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It ain’t over til’ everything’s dead!

So, remember those seeds trays I was fussing with a few weeks ago?

Well… some of them actually turned into plants, so I threw them into the big, poison-free garden patch. Kale, cabbage, carrots, beans, cucumber, onion, peas, beets, swiss chard and squash. Oh yes, and the aforementioned slightly embarrassing cantaloupe. (My favorite garden adviser laughed at me. “You’re a dreamer,” she said. Yes, it’s true. But hey, I had the seeds!)

I figured, why not? It’s all an experiment this fall, so whatever grows, grows. If nothing else, I’ll be ready for next spring, having learned the whole growing-from-seed process. I would love to eat one of these plants, though! That would be a major milestone, eating something I grew from a seed.

Luckily, our recent cold night didn’t kill everything. (The veggies have the coleus beat!) So I got out there this weekend and weeded and cleaned the leaves out and some of these characters are definitely looking hopeful and healthy.

The kale is pretty happy, and everyone says that’s a cold weather veggie that can survive into early winter. We are using a lot of that for juicing these days, so I planted a whole row.

The beans, peas and squash are also looking pretty decent.

I don’t think the cucumber’s going to amount to anything, though. It’s looking limp and yellow. Oh well!

Posted in Keep hope alive | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

News flash: it was cold last night, bitches!

Fitchburg, Mass. — A vibrant bed of innocent, unsuspecting coleus was destroyed last night, as the region’s first truly low temperatures wreaked havoc on summer annuals misfortunate enough to be outside.

Friday’s overnight low was forecasted to dip to 28 degrees, but Plantkiller Paysha Rhone neglected to follow-up on how low temperatures actually fell. “It was obviously really fucking cold,” she said, pointing to her shrunken, crispy plants. “I’m not the brightest bulb, but I don’t need a thermometer to figure that out.”

Rhone did move quickly enough, in a last-minute panic, to save her  potted patio plants, which she moved into to her “basement of death” for temporary protection. She hauled them back out into the sun this morning, unsure whether the next few nights will pose a threat and, frankly, just unwilling to “let go of the whole outdoor plant thing for the year.”

Among the saved…

“It’s barely mid-October,” she whined. “I was hoping for that warm and muggy extended New England summer that makes plants grow to rain forest proportions. I feel cheated.”

Her complaining continued, as she bemoaned her inability to dig up her prized coleus in time, re-pot it and move it indoors, where — it must be said — it would probably have eventually died anyway from inattention and lack of adequate sunlight.

“It was just such a pretty bed,” she whined on. “Screw you, frost!”

Unfortunately, September in Fitchburg proved slightly cold and rainy, with October continuing along the same uninspiring trajectory. Rhone just hopes the early cold doesn’t mean another Halloween snow storm is on the horizon. “That was just ridiculous,” she remembered. “Killed everything but the petunias.”

Her inner Bostonian mocked her for her naive refusal to embrace the reality of where she actually lives. “Whaddya expect? We’re not in Florida,” her Bostonian said, wisely. “You don’t like it, move. Quit yer bitchin’.”

“Oh, and that cantaloupe you planted in late August? Are you on crack? Whatevah!”

Rhone’s mammoth climbing orange-blossomed thunbergia (summer 2012 MVP) was not completely destroyed, but looked a little sad and crinkly after the cold night outside. She has still not determined how the hell she’s going to get it inside and where she’s going to put it. She will undoubtedly screw around too long, over-thinking the whole matter until the plant dies.

Strangely, a lone begonia escaped the cold completely unharmed.

The begonia, a former garden troublemaker, refused to reveal the secret to its hardiness. But it did aim sharp words at its wilted neighbors.

“That coleus is a wuss,” the begonia said. “All big and showy and bright, with no grit. Suck it up. Fourth quarter!”

Posted in Mo' plants, mo' problems, This just in | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

2012 MVP: Thunbergia!

As fall really does settle in and the threat of frost seems imminent, I just have to hand a trophy to this summer’s “proven winner,” as the garden marketers say: the lovely Thunbergia alta! (Also known as the Black-eyed Susan vine.)

This fantastic climbing, trailing, blooming, luscious vine — popping with vibrant orange blossoms — is still going. And going. And going. Be still my heart!

I bought her at just a few feet tall from a local farm stand, climbing up a wee little trellis in her pot.

And now…

Yep, she’s a monster! (Why there’s a random rope going up the side of my house, I have no clue. But it gave her something else to climb anyway. Guess it’s just some hillbilly shit.)

I repotted her after purchase. (Careful to not disturb the trellis already deeply entangled in her vines… why screw with success?) And set her on a little table with a larger climbing frame behind her, twining a few vines into it to encourage growth. And away she went.

The only thing this plant needs, besides full sun, is lots of water every day. Those vines and bright orange blooms are thirsty. But what a payoff… I honestly can’t believe her performance, especially in light of what happened elsewhere in my yard this summer. A whole lot of death/nothing. Even hosta did badly in my front yard. Insane.

So, Lady Thunbergia is sitting on my back patio, which I covered in potted plants this year — all manner of succulents and crazy experiments. And everything back there pretty much went gangbusters. I was inspired by all the container gardens at Tower Hill Botanical Garden. I think pots like me more than the earth…

(And I hope the perennially failing/diseased Clematis across the patio is jealous and feeling very, very guilty right now!)

So, I’ve read Thunbergia are grown as annuals in most of the country, because they don’t survive frost. Booooo. But then I read this: “Plants in containers will also bloom over winter in sunny windows.”


Now I have to try to haul this beast in the house somehow and give it some highly-competitive window-front real estate.

I wish I knew how to quit yeeeew!

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Plant porn Phriday: prickly peenie!

Holy mother of gawwwwwd!

This guy just looks so damn happy, right? I hope none of those little prickers are sticking him where the sun don’t shine.

Thanks to my favorite cousin Nicole for alerting me to this gem, which was actually posted on another cousin’s FB page (the fantastic Sandi Pasero).  As Nicole well knows, she and I are practically the only “normal” people in our family, which is why we’re obsessed with plants that look like naughty people parts — especially all the crazy cacti that surround her in sunny AZ. Lucky!

Happy Friday to everyone, keep your eyes peeled for plant porn (which you should send to me) and enjoy the first day of fall. And yep, that’s tomorrow!

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