Friday, January 21, 2011

Plants Inside

photo credit Richard Felber
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that I’m a big Ina Garten fan. I love her show, her food and her top of the line kitchen/barn/TV studio/office/dining room. Recently I was watching her show and lost track of whatever she was cooking because I got all messed about a Ficus tree.  From one angle I noticed she had this huge tree standing in front of a window. 

“Really,” I said to myself out loud. “A Ficus. That’s so 1985!”

It started me thinking about indoor plants again.  Other than C and myself, I banished all living things to being outdoors years ago.  When we moved into our first house in the 1980’s it was in a small town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  We quickly became friends with some of the more fashionable neighbors.  We all had Ficus trees.  In fact, most everyone I knew had Ficus trees in the 80’s.  I don’t know why, because generally they looked like shit unless they’re used as a trimmed hedge in Palm Springs!  I guess it was because they were cheap.  But, unless you had a perfect place with the perfect light they never looked good.  And good light or not, if they were disturbed even in the slightest all the leaves would fall off almost immediately.  Every few months it seemed that my neighborhood friends and I would be hauling home a new Ficus because the single remaining leaf fell off the last one.  So usually everyone’s Ficus looked like it was in a constant state of severe shock and we were always sweeping up brown leaves.

photo credit Frederic Vasseur
When we moved to Atlanta, I remember hauling several sad looking ones with us.  The first couple of years in the ATL we moved about three times, so regardless of how much light the damn things got; they never had more than a handful of leaves on them.  Finally we bought an older house in an Atlanta ghetto.  The biggest tree found a home in our bright kitchen.  It really was too crowded in the kitchen for the tree, but since it was the only room in the house that wasn’t cave like, that’s were the tree went.  I placed the second one in front of a bathroom window, where its branches knocked you in the head every time you passed by.  They managed to live on – barely – for years.  Whole sections would die off, but I’d just rotate their pots, dust them off and throw more water at them. 

After we bought the country house in the mid 90’s I moved the trees here thinking they would have a better home.  They both were now about 7 feet tall with two branches each and about 38 leaves between the two of them.  I had a few other indoor plants.  I have brought a couple of ugly Mother-In-Law Tongues home from one of the department stores I was working at and also always had a few potted Spaths setting around the house.  I guess I wanted to be reminded of a hospital room. Eventually, I wised up and set the trees outside during a hard freeze ending their suffering, and mine.  Their plant friends quickly followed.

I think Fiddle Leaf Fig trees became the indoor tree of many people during the 90’s.  I never got on that trend.  I actually like them, but it was just too soon for me to adopt more indoor life. 

Now that years have passed I might be up for getting some new indoor plants.  I’m not sure what, but here are some clever ideas.  I’ll think about a fig tree.  I could see one of those in our front entrance.  But under no circumstances will I get a Ficus.  I don’t care if Ina has one or not.  I’m sure the leaves will fall off hers eventually.

photo credit Jonn Coolidge


photo credit Jonn Coolidge

photo credit Jonn Coolidge

photo credit Pieter Estersohn

photo credit Mick Hales

photo credit Richard Felber

photo credit Roger Davies


photo credit Victoria Pearson


1 comment:

  1. Hi A.J.,
    I certainly get the whole ficus thing...funny. I like you tried to baby, tease, and cajole my many ficus trees to no avail; they all died eventually.
    I hope you decide to get house plants again. I have two fiddle leaf figs that grow maddeningly slow but they are impressive and make a quiet statement. They also force me to be patient. Maybe you'll give one a try.


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