Nov 18, 2022

A Houseplant Discusses Abandonment Issues

—Not exactly, but I hope it got your attention

By Ed Goldman

According to The Wall Street Journal, a new adoption/foster-parenting dilemma is arising—and this time it involves neither humans nor pets.

It’s about houseplants. Let’s call that a soiler alert.

Edgy Cartoon

Noir In My Back Yard

People love their houseplants but are leaving them to go overseas—for jobs, extended tours or exotically accented assignations. (I added the latter motivation just to spice things up.)

Anyway, this column’s consulting plant (and informal plant whisperer), Philo Dendron—I’m sorry if you were expecting a higher level of wit for a premise this admittedly flimsy—agreed to sit down for a chat in exchange for “a few sprinkles of water and a few spoonfuls of Miracle-Gro. It’s not like I’m a Chia pet, for God’s sake!”

THE GOLDMAN STATE: Thanks for dropping by, Phil. I wanted to ask—

PHILO: “Dropping by”? What, are you kidding? I’ve been sitting on your back patio for almost six years. Are you trying to make it sound like I sought you out? Delusions of grandeur, have we?

TGS: Sorry, just a turn of phrase, Phil. But here’s—

PHILO: Look, as long as you brought up the word “turn,” would you mind giving me a little one so I can catch a few rays before sunset?

TGS: Oh, certainly, Phil, I—

PHILO: “Plants Do Not Live on Mulch Alone.” You may want you write that down.

TGS (As I turn Philo toward the afternoon sun): Got it. How’s this?

PHILO: Pretty good. Next time, though, remember: my exposure doesn’t require you to look up any SPF numbers. Think of me as having a Mediterranean complexion.

TGS: But you’re green.

PHILO: Okay. A Mediterranean-Martian complexion. There may have been a mixed grafting somewhere along the line.

TGS: Had no idea.

PHILO: It’ll be in my memoir, “Getting in On the Ground Flora.”

TGS: Catchy title. Is there a subhead?

PHILO: Sure. “My Life of Putting The Mettle in the Petal.” Don’t sneer. “Roots” was taken.

TGS: I wasn’t sneering. I was sneezing. I have plant allergies.

PHILO: Well, duh. We all know that’s why you keep us outside.

TGS: “We”?

PHILO: All of us back here in what we call The Grass Menagerie: Burr “Dove” Paradise, the Cacti Optimists—a lovely couple but they’re not big on day-drinking—Castor Bean, Myrtle Crepe, even Black-Eyed Susan, who’s recovering nicely, no thanks to you.

TGS: What happened?

PHILO: Just a little backyard skirmish over who could best overpower you and take over your reverse mortgage. The super-charged talk about anarchy gave Susie a pollen high and she fell on her face. 

TGS: She wasn’t pushed?

PHILO: Nobody laid a tendril on her, swear to God. We don’t suffer bullies here.

TGS: How do you prevent it?

PHILO: We weed them out. (Chuckles) Hey, maybe I should write this column.

TGS: Maybe. The hours are great. The pay? Not so good.

PHILO: Sounds like unemployment or retirement.

TGS: Kind of in-between.

PHILO: Sounds like Purgatory. Oh, I forgot. You’re not a Roman Catholic.

TGS: Phil, what would you expect from me if I were to leave the country for a while and couldn’t take you and The Grass Menagerie along? The Wall Street Journal had an article about it the other day.

PHILO: Yeah, we all saw it. The delivery guy drives down your alley and throws your papers over the backyard fence.

TGS: Aha! That explains why I can never find the Gardening Tips column.

PHILO: Oh, stop it. You wouldn’t read that if it included free-martini vouchers at Hooters.


PHILO: We’d want to stay here. We like it here. And by the time you got back, our takeover of your home would be complete. A regular coup d’bud. Maybe I’ll write about it for my second memoir.

TGS: A second one?

PHILO: Of course. Every good book deserves a sepal.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).