garden compositions – the secret life of plants

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garden compositions—the secret life of plants

By Barbara Wise

While I’m away spending some much needed time in my own garden, I’ve asked renowned (and somewhat quirky) horticulturalist “Prissy Pots” to fill in for me in giving advice for the late summer garden.  Keep yourself and those plants hydrated!

One of the qualities needed to be an effective gardener is the ability to understand your plants. Knowing aspects such as sun or shade requirements, watering preferences, and fertilizing needs are important. But do you know the secret to truly grasping your plants’ needs? You only need to listen to the plants as they socialize, especially when they think no one else is listening.*

A newly developed and highly technical device called the “Florinator” is now being used to pick up on the subliminal and archaic language of the plant world, and then translating the conversation while tagging the plant being interpreted.  As the chief technician AND inventor of the “Florinato,” I ( Prissy Pots) look forward to giving you glimpses into these secret conversations so that you can better care for, choose, grow, and know the plants you interact with. Keep an eye out for future special articles that include the Secret Life of Celebrity Plants!

The following is an actual conversation caught on tape during this June’s heat wave. These unguarded moments witnessed between some of my favorite summer annuals reveal their true nature:

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” Mandavilla sighed as she listened to the jealous murmurings of Callibrachoa and New Guinea Impatiens.“It was only a few weeks ago that all those cool spring rains made you robust and vibrant while I only paled, actually yellowed, in the background. If my people hadn’t fed me a little Ironite and high phosphate fertilizer, my reputation would be ruined!  Oh, I just popped open another blossom…this summer I can hardly contain myself.”

Callibrachoa and New Guinea Impatiens drooped in self-pity.  “Just look at how Mandavilla is all over that trellis and even endearing herself with that hunky fence,” Callibrachoa whispered.  “I can’t believe she’s staying away from that gorgeous Bougainvillea over there. Look at that guy’s bracts!”

“Heard he’s pretty thorny,” muttered Torenia as he cowered in the shade.  “Mandavilla’s one of those strong beauties. Put her in a glazed pot or just stick her in a bed of clay and she’ll bask in the sunlight,” admired Euphorbia Diamond Frost.

NG Impatien whispered again to Callibrachoa, “Euphorbia gets along so well with everybody, and is one of the few who can actually hold her own with Mandavilla in these conditions. I just hate to see her get so crushed every time Mandavilla goes and drops one her big old waxy leaves.”

“You’re right.  Mandavilla really is better off surrounded by that Freestyle Geranium or tough Secreasia in these conditions.  Even Lantana does better when he’s a little more grounded rather than trying to keep running around with Mandavilla in that high-fallutin’ black urn,” Callibrachoa observed.

“Remember when Mandavilla broke out with that awful mealy bug?” NG Impatiens giggled.  “If her people hadn’t sprayed her with some of that insecticidal soap and made her take that stuff (Bayer’s All Purpose Flower Care) she had to drink up by her roots, she wouldn’t be looking so mighty fine right now.”

“Do people do the type of grafting where I could get some of those bulbous water-holding roots like Mandavilla has?” Callibrachoa asked, “I’d love looking like she does in this heat and drought.”

Chenille perked up from her lazy drooping out of a container to respond, “But, Callibrachoa, you and Verbena keep looking beautiful even into late fall because your people keep you well feed and watered. I just hang around here looking like a red caterpillar.”

Petunia couldn’t help but jump into the conversation. She is always working her way into other plant’s space. Petunia loudly inserted, “When are we gonna get feed again? And when am I going to get a little trim? If those people would just feed me once a week with that yummy Monty’s Joy Juice or Daniel’s Plant Food maybe I’d feel like showing off my naturally beautiful blossoms.”

“Shhh! Here comes Prissy Potts,” cried Torenia. “I know she’s just a human but sometimes I feel like she knows just what we’re talking about!”

“Torenia, you are so insecure…,” Lantana self-consciously remarked as they all slipped into silence.  *This listening technique is also effective with adolescent children.

Editor’s Note: Barbara Wise, a horticulturist with Southern Land Company, brings her gardening expertise and experience to readers of House & Home & Garden™.  E-mail your questions to her at barbara.wise@

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