Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The dead zone

I don't have a kelly green thumb, but I do consider it belongs in the green spectrum -- maybe celadon. So I don't understand why certain plants --everyday, ordinary, get at Home Depot plants -- commit suicide after less than a year in my yard. What profound sense of hopelessness do they find in this corner of Altadena that makes them refuse food and water, and instead, choose to hit the dirt face down.

For example, the kamakazi-like Japanese Maple.

Yes, I gave it acid soil. Yes, it was never allowed to dry out. On the hottest days of summer, I even misted the ungrateful bitch. I'll give this pot a kick and move on.

The princess flower. Such a lovely name. She shot up quickly, was actually taller than any other of her kind I've ever seen. Well, live fast, die young, and leave a corpse of some sort, they say.

The butterfly bush. This is insulting, because this is a native. Took one look around my garden and thought, "I wish I were dead."

And I'll stop with the fern.

Because the fern quite obviously stopped with me.


  1. I don't know if this policy is still in place, but you can return dead plants to HDepot within a year of purchase. That is, if you can stand the humiliation of standing in the return line with gripping a dead tree.

  2. Are you, or your pets, watering your plants?

  3. Oh, yea. I love the Home Depot's return policy, and I have take liberal advantage of it. You just have to have the original pot and the receipt. (And that, my friends, is an organization challenge that keeps most gardeners from taking advantage.)

    Sometimes I get scared that they are compiling a dead plant data base on me and that they will one day refuse to sell me healthy plants. "We're sorry, m'am. Too many homicides. You have exceeded your death quota."

    Japanese Maples are notoriously fickle, but the native plants. As K said, sad but funny.

  4. Susan, if thats so, I know I'm on the list. I killed three maples. Gave up on the dang things. Eventually a little accident would sideline my gardening activities. Cacti and bouganvilla now rule the ranchette.

  5. A receipt and the original pot? Are you kidding? Actually, most of my failures come from the Huntington Garden sales. I'm sure it's the direct result of utter shock and dismay

  6. My dear neighbor in Altadena,

    The particular plants that you've mentioned whose premature dive into death might not have been death at all - just a mere "There's nothing we hate more than being in Southern California in August, other than being here in September." All of them, Acer palmatim, Tibouchina and any fern of any variety can get by with semi complacency until July - Sept. They can't stand our heat. It's common, especially for Acer's to just drop all their leaves from mere exhaustion during our hottest months. And as far as the Tibouchina, if you have it in a spot where there is enough sun to keep it blooming, then the leaves hate the heat and will eventually burn up, most likely about now. If you keep it shaded, the leaves will love you, but you'll get no blooms. And Ferns, well, thermostatically controlled environments are crucial to ferns, until they become much older and much more established. My guess is that all three are not dead - just a bit tired and begging to be brought to Portland, Or. or at least the SF bay area. They will all burst into leaf bud very soon, when the weather cools a bit - the maple won't bud out until early Spring. Don't give up hope, I'm here in Altadena too, and my maples have all droped their leaves. I've got dried out ferns, especially from last nights warm wind - they about almost did die from that, but they don't, they just fry up and take a rest until it gets cooler.