Sunday, April 1, 2012

Turning Over A New Leaf

In 2006, while waiting in the limbo which was my exile in Memphis after the failure of the federal levees, I went to herbalist school. I had always been interested in herbs, and loved to experience them in all of their many forms. Since I had the time, it made sense to finally make a dream a reality.

I signed up for a course. I read about teas, tinctures and poultices. I learned the history of the different ways of practicing herbal medicine. I started my own little herb collection. At first, it was contained in a three-drawer plastic cabinet. Now my collection resides in a six-foot tall cupboard of solid oak, made for me by the husband of a client.

If you give me an herb, I can tell you about it. Where it grows, how it was used in ancient times, and what function it performs. I can tell you the best way to prepare it. I can do it all, but I have a secret herbalist shame.

I have a black thumb. Yes, you read right. I cannot keep plants alive to save my life. Growing up, I spent summers in my mother's large garden. I helped to plant and care for the various vegetables and fruits. In the summer months, I was sent out to pick raspberries or rhubarb. You'd think that this background, and my interest in herbs would combine to make me a wonderful gardener. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. And dead is usually where my plants end up.

I have decided to try once again to cultivate some skill in this area. To that end, I went to the nursery with my SSP on Friday.

The nursery in question is famous for the green parrots which fly around outside, and even enter into the store itself. You can frequently see store workers walking around with beautiful green parrots on their shoulders. Even though I don't have a green thumb, I have always liked going to the Green Parrot Nursery.

My SSP and I arrive. We begin touching and sniffing the different herbs. Oregano, thyme, and shallots. Orange Mint, Pepper Mint, and Mojito Mint. Several different kinds of Lavender, Rosemary and Lemon Balm. I touched and sniffed them all. Then I tasted some.

We had a great deal of fun walking amongst the tiny pots with their contents bursting forth. I picked out four plants to start. Mojito Mint, Apple Mint, Lemon Balm, and Rosemary. I went in to pay, and my SSP was describing the parrots to me. One of them was enjoying a snack with one of the workers at the shop. The man had a hamburger, and he took little bites off of his sandwich, and placed them upon his knee. The bird would fly down, pick up the bite, and return to the man's shoulder. I didn't know that green parrots had blue and other colors on them as well. This is one of the reasons I love going places with my SSP-- I have my very own describer.

We loaded the herbs into the car and drove to Walmart to look at flower pots. Unfortunately, the only ones that would work for my herbs were a horrible beige color. This would not do, not at all. However, there wasn't really any other choice, and I still had to make groceries, and my SSP time would be running out. Finally I decided to get the ugly pots and then we went to the children's section and got some finger paints. They are bright, primary colors and will work to make my pots less boring.

Today, my project is to paint the pots. Once they dry, I will let the baby herbs move into their newly painted homes.

Now, if someone can just remind me to water them, I'll be set.


  1. Well, they sell those pretty little blown glass things that are supposed to be water reservoirs, but they've never worked for me. these ceramic probes feed out of an outside, open reservoir, so if you remember to check that once a week and keep it filled, they should self water as the fluid wicks through the ceramic. May not be the ideal level of water, but better than forgetting them for too long.

    For African Violets, they will put twine or yarn in a pot with a drain hole, so the wick is dangling out, then put that in a saucer with water, so the wick keeps it watered all the time there's water in the saucer.

    I kinda cheat and have my fern pot in a ziplock so I can see when there's no spare water. I refill the ziplock about 1.5 inches deep about once a week. The violets are double potted, and I just refresh their water when the fern's out. Currently, everything that survived me completely forgetting them after the car wreck for several weeks is back in a growing phase.

    1. I must get one of these water things! This is a great idea!

  2. I had to laugh because when you said the pots were ugly, I thought you should go get paints and make them prettier. LOL Great minds think alike. :)
    Good luck with the plants. I'd probably kill them too.

    1. Now I have all this paint, I'm wondering what else I can paint!!! haha!

  3. I too have a black thumb! I've tried my hand at planting herbs and enjoyed the fruits of my labor until they died! :( My mom got the green thumb in the family!

    I have been contemplating herb courses since about 2000 and haven't. A large part was that living in NC everything that I had there for options was a bitch to get to. Perhaps I really should revisit this!

    The interest hasn't lessened at all, in fact, thanks to iPhone, I can read and research to my heart's content!