Proof of Life

Some good friends of ours recently hit the road for a cross country move to the Southwest. My friend has an extraordinary green thumb, and I always admired her large, healthy population of houseplants. I have a few plants of my own, and while they all seem hearty now, each has had its own brush with death under my care. So when my friend told me that she wasn’t going to be able to take some of her larger plants with her, I felt both excitement and trepidation at the prospect of inheriting them.

First, there is the enormous jade tree that was part of her mother-in-law’s plant and is about 3 feet tall. Karla nursed this thing back from the brink and it has thrived and created many more little plants. I am particularly terrified of hurting this plant given its family history. We got off to a bad start when, on the move to our house, it tipped over. It fell on its side, leaving a wake of potting soil and leaves. Not good. For the first 2 weeks or so, one side of the plant was very droopy and soft. I staked up the larger branches with some bamboo poles, put it in a sunny spot and hoped for the best. I also followed her advice to “water from the bottom”, which is simply to keep the trays under the pots full of water so the roots can pull up moisture as needed. I am thrilled to say that with a little sun, water, and tlc, the jade seems to be recovering nicely!

The next plant, a Norfolk pine, is also enormous, this time in height. It’s about 5 feet tall with a wing span of 4 feet. This plant surprisingly did not tip over on the curvy ride home, and is enjoying its new life in our sunroom. The cats also enjoy the cover it provides! I am planning on knitting some wee socks and sweaters to decorate it with at Christmas time.

And finally we have the robust and fragrant rosemary plant. This found immediate peace and happiness on the back deck, where I have been enjoying its perfume on a daily basis as I sit next to it and knit.

Karla, thank you for entrusting the lives of your beloved plants to me. I am doing my very best to keep them healthy and happy!

There is something else thriving around my house. Aside from the myriad of insects in and around the house (a fact of life living next to the woods, I suppose), we have a population of tiny frogs. They’re about the size of a small piece of mulch, which is exactly what they look like when not in motion.

The first time I saw one was when I was weeding the garden and it hopped right past me. Then I kept seeing them leaping out of the grass, or along the sidewalk in the mornings. While my friend Elisha was here, we went frogging and tried to identify what they could be. At first, we couldn’t find any images that looked anything like this little guy. Being the scientist that she is (just got her PhD, holla!), she pointed out that it might be a juvenile and could change its appearance over the next few years. So we decided it’s probably a young Pickerel frog.

Do you have any interesting creatures visiting your backyard? What’s your secret to keeping houseplants in good health?

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3 thoughts on “Proof of Life

  1. What a lovely memento of your friend those plants are!

    We used to have loads of frogs in our pond, but we now have loads of newts; we think that the newts eat the frogspawn…

  2. You are very lucky to have those plants! My dad has a jade plant that he started 30+ years ago – it’s 3.5 – 4 feet tall – we put white christmas lights on it around Christmas time! When I started college, he took a little one from the big jade for me (10+ years ago) and it’s still going strong. I took a little piece off that for Dan when we were dating (8+ years ago) and that one is doing well also! I’m a big fan of Jades! And I’m quite jealous of your frogs! We have many bunnies if you need any. They love the “gourmet” salad that is my garden.

  3. I love Jade plants. I had one for about 20 years, but since my current house doesn’t have a lot of light, it finally gave up. You might want to also try Christmas cactus which is also a succulent, but with vivid bloom about twice a year. Lives in the same light as a Jade.

    In my back yard we have small garter snakes and mice. Also rabbits who eat my flowers if I don’t spray them with stinky stuff. And hawks who prey on the rabbits. It is a virtual microcosm in my neighborhood. We also have seen a fox or two as well as a coyote.

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