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Confessions of a Brown Thumb

Updated on July 25, 2009

Ssh, Brown Thumb at Work!

If you're sneaky enough, no one need ever find out you have a brown thumb!
If you're sneaky enough, no one need ever find out you have a brown thumb!

No Green Thumb Here

My name is Shirley Anderson. I am a brown thumb.

You have to understand that I don't set out to go through so many plants in a season. It's not something I am proud of but I can't help myself. God knows, I love gardening and I do the best I can but I've been down on my luck lately.

I know what you're thinking. "Why doesn't she just stop?" Some of my friends and family have suggested that I get help, they even sent a landscaper around to try and talk to me. They don't seem to realize how good it feels when I've planted a few too many. What a heady experience it is to see a flower bed cram-packed with blooms that may live as long as a week!

My husband always argues the expense of my habit and I suppose he's right but that very sensible approach does little to satisfy my addiction. This year, I decided that I must be more discreet about my plant consumption. For starters, when his birthday rolled around, there was a beautiful basket of plants waiting for him when he got home from work. He eyed me suspiciously and asked where I intended to bury them. I said, "You mean plant, don't you?"

"No, I mean bury. You might as well choose their final resting spot before you put them in the ground. And by the way, you're not very good at this, I know you bought those for yourself."

Okay, so it wasn't his best birthday ever. He'll get over it and the sight of those beautiful flowers in our front yard is bound to cheer him up! At least for a week or two, anyway.

Last month, I bought fifteen packets of seeds and filled up my sewing room with dozens of little pots for planting herbs and flowers. The gardening bill would be so low, I reasoned, that hubby would wonder how I did it. Best of all, he'd be off my back about the whole business. I could once again bring my thumb back out into the open.

The week that many of my seeds sprouted, I went out and purchased a nice new pair of gardening gloves in wild anticipation. On my way out of the store, I bought an African violet for my sewing room, you know, to celebrate the occasion. What could one hurt? The week the seedlings all died, I wallowed in devasted misery as I fretted over how I was going to manage all my re-planting needs throughout the summer.

Once my self-pity party was over, I was able to come up with a solution that I think has great potential. For a few hours a week now, I work at a local nursery. Don't worry, I don't give advice or plant anything, I just handle paperwork. We employees receive a discount, which actually leaves me a bit of money left from my pay cheque. I have devised a way to throw people off the scent and make them think that I could've stopped anytime I wanted to. It has worked so well thus far, in fact, that friends and loved ones now credit me with perserverance. They congratulate me for 'hanging in there' as long as it took to finally, successfully achieve a beautiful garden.

That's what they see and that's what I let them think. And as long as they don't stop by during the wee hours and catch me planting, they'll think my brown thumb has turned green.

Editor's Note

This article is a reprint from the March 1997 issue of the Old South Advocate.

It is true that I loved gardening, it is true that I worked at a nursery where I planted and did the paperwork. It is NOT true however, that I gave my husband a basket of flowers for his birthday, that was fabricated for the story and inspired by his gifts to me.  I just wanted to clear that up.

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