The touch

seedling survivorsGail has been focused – I’d say “fixated” if that didn’t have a wrong sounding tone – on getting the seedlings transplanted by May 1. So yesterday I worked on basils and Nicotianas and thought about whether or not I have “the touch” (a.k.a. a green thumb). I used to work with a 70 year old Dutch gardener named Gerard who taught by nearly silent grumble and who definitely had the touch. I remember planting out bedding annuals with him and watching him knock salvias out of packs, open the roots with rips and tears and shove them one after another into the ground. The fascinating thing for me watching him was the delicate balance – his handling of the plants both wasn’t nearly as rough as it looked nor were the plants as fragile as I thought.

The nicotianas I transplanted yesterday look like they’ve been through a devastating hurricane – I separated them from a pack like this one a pack of nicotiana - one pack that doesn’t come with a warning label!and I swear leaves broke when I only looked at them. Joel, Louise and Cathy transplanting this morningI’m not a terribly coordinated person – my penmanship is illegible, it takes me 5 tries to thread a needle, I can’t walk in a straight line, and I fall off my bike sometimes. But I can handle plants with a certain “touch” because (and this is the real trick) they’re wired for survival. (Mind you, I’m not talking about gardenias and maiden hair ferns which under my care seem downright suicidal.) We transplant seedlings – and plant in our gardens – in order to give the plants room to grow to their best potential and so that’s just what they’ll most likely do. Of course we’ve still got to water them, give them the right kind of light and heat and make sure there aren’t any slugs lurking beneath the packs and even then, every once in while something might fail to thrive. And so we keep learning. Do you have “the touch”?

Mother Nature’s touch has been a little on the rough side the last couple of days but my guess is everything will thrive for it – even the tissue paper delicate waterlogged trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).

Trillium grandiflorum after the rain

Daff cam 4-29-08The daffodils look a little bit sat upon but I think they and the tulips will pop back up too. Did you know that a penny in a vase of cut tulips will keep them from slouching? (If only that worked for teenagers…)

Tulipa ‘Blushing Beauty’ in the North Garden