Saturday, October 16, 2010

Set and forget

Before I launch into the pleasant discovery of the day out under the olive tree, I would like to send a heart-felt gripe to Huey the Weather God for the dreadful fizzer that was yesterday's non-deluge. 5mm of rain – call that a deluge, Huey? Well, to be fair, several towns in southern Australia were flooded, one dam burst, and there was wet and windy mayhem in many places. Then powerful winds woke me up at 4am this morning with every window in the house rattling like we had a whole cemetry-full of hungry zombies outside, wanting to get in. Grrr, Huey, I hate windy days!

Where was I? Oh yes, 'set and forget', the title of today's blog posting. This is a plant that I barely remember setting, and which I completely forget forgetting, it was so forgettable. Guess what? It's in bloom, it's happy and it will stay happy provided I keep on leaving it alone.

Here is the happy camper in its element. Its name is probably Sarcostemma, if my succulent book is right. It was given to me some years ago and no matter where I put it, it was a miserable thing most of the time. Its last assignment was hanging basket duty, where it failed to thrive, with bits breaking off repeatedly. However, it wasn't dead, so I just put the basket in the crook of the olive tree at the very back of the yard and completely forgot about it. And that means no watering, no feeding, no visits – not even a friendly 'hello' from me. It was the Invisible Plant.

And then Pammy came in this morning with that "I've discovered something" gleam in her eyes, and guess what? The Invisible Plant is flowering!

The flowers might be small but, as you can see from this branch, it's bubbling with buds and good cheer. And the whole plant itself has grown, almost doubling in size. 'Inspired neglect' is what I call this gardening technique.

While I was taking some photos of the Sarcostemma, it occurred to me that there is a lesson to be learned here, and it's this: if there is a plant in your garden which has not responded at all to your well-intentioned fussing and caring, try plan B - ignore it completely. Forget about it. Put it somewhere where Huey will water it for you, but apart from that leave it to fend for itself.

This option of course does have a higher fatality rate than fussing and caring, but it does have its successes, too. Especially with succulents.


patientgardener said...

I'm afraid that most of my plants are subjected to plan B partly because I am forgetful and secondly because I dont have enough time!! It works and as long as you follow the right plant, right place mantra there are few casualties

Lanie said...

I have a sad looking succulent that looks like a relative of a Zygo cactus. You know the type that you buy at a market when it is in full flower, then then it looks very ordinary a few weeks later? I was just wondering whether to throw it out but felt a bit guilty. So thank you Jamie, you have given me the solution. I will put it up in the corner of the cubby house and see how it goes. No guilt.

Paul said...

There has been some talk in the media recently about "helicopter parents". I'm beginning to think I may be a helicopter gardener. I'll have to remember this post for those occasions when I just can't get it right. Of course I now need to plant an olive tree to put those plants on.

Unknown said...

Your plant is definitely a Rhipsalis - I'm not sure which species. Try this link for comparison pictures: