St. Joseph’s Red Mexican Bird of Paradise

I am extremely happy that a person’s skill with plants does not predict their ability to nurture other living things. Case in point?


My thumb is terribly brown, which is a shame because I love gardens and growing things. I read and re-read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Secret Garden growing up. I could just see myself having a little butterfly garden brimming with flowers  and lush, exuberant life. Preferably within the bounds of a brick, ivy covered wall accessible by a secret door and a key. But reality? See above.

Oliver and I moved into our house on a December day in 2012. We knew right away that we were going to plant a garden and enjoy fresh vegetables all summer. We received a Home Depot gift certificate for Christmas and promptly decided that we were going to build some raised beds in a little fenced in area off the side of our house. We built the beds and trucked in some soil for them. We planted green beans, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes and onions.

By the summer’s end our harvest consisted of a handful of sickly looking tomatoes, a shriveled squash which implored us to put it out of its misery and a lush crop of pigweed that thought we were doing a most excellent job.

It’s a very lucky thing that a person cannot be indicted for plant slaughter. I could just see a room full of police reviewing surveillance tape of me leaving a store with an incriminating bag of potting soil.

These days I have my eye on a red Mexican bird of paradise plant. I’m hoping that this desert-loving plant will be able to withstand heinous neglect. I took a seed pod from the shrub planted outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and plan to germinate the seeds soon. One for me and one for my mom for mother’s day.

The poor plant will have to be hardy to survive my hands. It will be facing a life much like mythological Greek afterlife. It may have to pray for St. Joseph’s intercession to just barely cling to life, much less thrive.

St. Joseph, you tenderly cared for baby Jesus and your verdantly blooming lily. Please pray for all the hapless plants who have the misfortune of depending on me for sustenance.