Sunday, 25 March 2007

Darling buds of March

They are everywhere, even here in the vicinity of the North Pole, the darling buds of March.
How to tell about it so that it wouldn’t sound like a weather report?

In a state of exhilaration, I put out the garden table and chairs today, then rescue them from a blizzard tomorrow. The snow melts again the day after, slish slosh. An army of heavy-booted boys runs through the apartment, disappearing to the forest before I manage to call them for a severe interrogation. The whole universe is a run-through existence, muddy footsteps all over, celebration anticipating despair. In and out, on and off, hot and cold taps running with equal force.

Seven plants inhabit my windowsill, a construction which the previous tenants made. It might collapse under the weight of the heavy pots any day now, so self-made it seems. Two of my darlings are committing suicide and five are growing exponentially, thanks to the overdose of fertilizer I’ve poured on them. The water becomes like green Mehukatti juice (pear flavour) - if I don’t use all of it in a go, the kids might accidentally drink the leftovers.

The rosemary is doing splendidly, but the apple of my eye, the sculptural pagoda tree has probably lost its fighting spirit. I found the pagoda tree (Sophora japonica) in a gardening centre in Jyväskylä last summer, fell in love with its fragile, sophisticated aura and took it home without any care-taking hints. Then I took great pains to find more information about it than the mere name. Finally, on a bonsai tree enthusiasts’ website ( it was told that the pagoda tree has a long hibernation and could even be kept in a fridge to resemble its natural winter climate. Contrary to the good advice, I’ve kept it suffering by my window next to the heating element the whole winter, because I first enjoyed looking at it even with the dry, lifeless leaves. Now I just feel bad about killing such a fine tree, but I haven’t got the nerve to throw the skeleton out before I’m quite sure about its fate.

Finland probably isn’t the right geographical spot to even try to grow such trees anyway, and I’m not even for the whole idea of bonsai. I wouldn’t start thwarting the pagoda tree if it came back to life. I prefer things to grow limitlessly.

You wouldn’t believe that I’ve read many feng shui manuals if you came to my house. I have, indeed, although it’s so 1990s. I know all about the bad chi dead or dying plants create around them. How they can cause loss of money, love and general lethargy. This is all theoretical knowledge I shouldn’t elaborate on until I practice what I preach. At the moment, my gardening skills are rather punk shui instead (

It’s a definite sign of growing older when you suddenly start recognizing the success of plants in café corners, and have a discussion with a friend about the correct kind of lighting for the plant called mother-in-law’s tongue (anopinkieli/Sansevieria trifasciata) instead of screening and giving points to gorgeous guys and gals passing by. But I tell you not to panic: these conversations can be quite pleasurable, and at least I connect love for plants with a general lust for life – anything that grows can lift us up at a critical stage.

Most of the time, talking to a plant is more beneficial than talking to people.

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