Gardening -- making things grow in a verdant plot -- is usually a relaxing change from plotting murder, and I am blessed with a fairly green thumb. I have rooted and given away dozens of hydrangea, gardenia, and azalea bushes. Pansies bloom themselves silly for me all winter. A handful of wild plox seeds have become a meadow. Oxalis came into my life via a small clump from a cousin and now every spring sees ever-expanding masses of pink all around the edges of the yard.
Most of these outdoor successes delight me, although I do wish someone had warned me about the invasive nature of liriope and Carolina jasmine. Or told me that I’d have dozens of mimosa trees once the birds started scattering seeds to the four corners of the farm.
Unfortunately, my thumb is even greener when it comes to houseplants . I have unthinkingly dropped orange seeds into a pot and watched them grow like Jack’s beanstalk. Ditto avocado pits. Someone once gave me a six-inch Norfolk Island pine as a Christmas gift. Ten years later, when it was seven feet tall and required two strong men and a dolly to get it out of the house, I finally found a taker for it.
When our son was married, a friend wih a greenhouse lent us several dozen Boston ferns. I bought several to give as thank-you gifts for our helpers and kept one for myself. That was eighteen years ago. I still have the fern from hell that will not die. I have divided it a half-dozen times, left it in an unheated room every winter, consigned it to a hot porch every summer where house wrens build nests in its crown, and still it flourishes.
Intellectually, I know that plants aren’t sentient beings; emotionally, it’s very hard for me to deliberately and with malice aforethought kill one that I’ve nurtured even when I’m tired of tending it. This is where my fictional skills should kick in. How can I make the death of a plant look like an accident? A few years ago, my editor sent a dish garden to brighten my hospital room. I forget what other plants were in it, but here’s the tiny snake plant that took a liking to me. It now grows in a 15" pot and is four feet tall.
I'm told that snake plants are impossible to kill. I’m also told that only the very happiest ever flower. If that’s the case, I have a feeling that this insanely contented snake plant is going to be with me till death. . . . . . . my death.