Must Love Plants

17 Jun

Adults love plants.

They really just love plants.

This is what I learned on Father’s Day, when my dad said what he most wanted to do on his special day was buy a few “aesthetically pleasing” Mountain Laurel plants for our front yard.

‘Twere it me, I would have asked for an aesthetically pleasing check for an aesthetically pleasing amount of money atop an aesthetically pleasing BMW. But I guess when you’re financially independent, cars and money are trumped by passions for botany.

As a newb to this whole plant-purchasing scene, I showed up to Mahoney’s Garden Center thinking we’d look at some plants, maybe consult one of the roaming experts for advice on watering, and then be on our way.

How naïve. How “plant basic.”

My parents shopping for plants was a combination of a safari in the Sahara, picking out a puppy, and drafting players for the NFL:

“Cynthia, look! I found a Nipmuck.”

Mom creeps quietly over to the Nipmuck. Together, Mom and Dad observe it in its natural habitat. They assess its height, girth, texture, color, and “likelihood to assimilate with the other plants.” They gently waft its smell and reach out their arms, so as to establish trust.

But then, Mom gets cold feet.

“That’s nice, Mike, but is it slow-growing? I NEED it to be slow-growing!” Mom exclaims.

“I’m not sure if it’s slow growing,” Dad replies.

“Well that will never work, then! It MUST be slow growing. I refuse to miss yet another blooming period.”

Mom’s formal “plant criticism” tone sounds like Queen Elizabeth, after sipping afternoon tea made with toilet water.

We are teetering at the precipice of a second War of the Roses.

(Don’t you dare Google “Queen Elizabeth, War of the Roses.” My version of history is just as good as the real one.)

But then, there is hope.

“Ooh, Mike, look! It’s a Flaming Fire Flower!!” Mom exclaims.

(Unclear if that’s really what Mom said…my botany lexicon is in its fetal stages.)

Dad looks dubious. These are the plants of royalty, usually only available to the likes of Bruce Jenner or Justin Bieber’s body double!

But by George, it is the Flaming Fire Flower!

Dad scurries over to the plant excitedly.

Both parents spend a long time reading the plant’s description. (Our Saharan safari tour guide has come down with an unfortunate case of traveler’s diarrhea, and so we must educate ourselves through the written word.)

Mom and Dad linger at the plant, but know in their heart of hearts that making such a purchase would be rash and irresponsible. They have three kids at home! How could they possibly care for the little guy?


(Plants are, after all, very high maintenance and likely to swallow Legos and paste if not cared for properly.)

They’re forced to retreat from the leather jackets of the botany kingdom and to instead enter the sensible trousers area…the Perennials.

After several minutes of “off-piste” detours and distractions, we finally leave the greenhouse and enter the open plains.

The hour has finally arrived! It’s time to pick out our Mountain Laurels.

“I prefer a red flower,” Mom says.

Dad looks like he swallowed a bug.

“I see where you’re coming from, Cynthia, but I do think a white flower is more in tune with our ‘creative vision.’”

Mom purses her lips and twitches her eyes in disgust.

“Mhm, yes, quite…” she replies.

From their tones, I can tell that Mom and Dad have turned into country clubbers with a shared passion for landscape.

(Dad has also somehow acquired boat shoes since our arrival at Mahoney’s, and Mom is making calls about her next DAR meeting.)

We peruse the white Mountain Laurel section, looking for three plants that are “flowered…but not too flowered…but not so lacking in flowers that they seem bare and hideous…but not so flowered that we will miss the blooms…but not so sparse that they never bloom.”

They must also be tall. But not “gigantic…but not so small that they don’t grow for two years…but not so tall that they dominate the terrain…but not so average that they just seem…average.”

In listening to this conversation, I’ve reached the conclusion that the plant we are searching for looks something like this:


Am I slightly off base?

Best leave the plant shopping to the experts.


Oh, and for the record – we went with the white.






7 Responses to “Must Love Plants”

  1. thisthatandtheotherthang June 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    They’re plant-obsessed! This past weekend, my aunt and uncle suggested that we get together and do something “fun and exciting”. I was all, “Whoo hoo! I’ve always wanted to go white-water rafting down the Arkansas River!” and they were all like, “So we’ll pick you up to go to the Denver Botanical Gardens around 1:30.” Um…what? I mean, I like flowers as much as the next Joe in town, and they are quite beautiful. but walking/skirting around old ladies in brightly colored onsies and matching hats to look at papaver somniferums (that’s the scientific term for poppies, something that I picked up on my ‘fun and exciting’ trip to a giant weed patch) is not really what I had in mind. Adults really do love plants.

    • sophpearl June 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      Oh my word LOL! Just your classic “Plantventure” with the relatives. Hey, at least you learned some highly valuable info!

      • thisthatandtheotherthang June 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

        Oh for sure! it’ll come in handy when, not if, I become the next contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Is that still a thing?

      • sophpearl June 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

        I really hope so because that is/was the best show EVER. And with this new plant knowledge, you’re sure to win!

  2. itsemmaelise June 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    I read this to my day lily obsessed mother, and she was cracking up. Honestly, this is the only piece about botany that I have ever enjoyed reading (and probably ever will enjoy reading). Be sure to update us on the tales of planting the new treasure in your yard!

    ♥Emma, of It’s Emma Elise

    • sophpearl June 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Thanks so much!! I’m glad you and your mom enjoyed it. Writing a post that includes the word “botany” is always risky, but I’m glad it found its audience 🙂

      • itsemmaelise December 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

        Definitely! You pulled it off well!

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