My Khaki Thumb

Written by Michelle Robinson – Bach. Counselling. Dip. Clinical Hypnotherapy

It’s interesting that the theme this month revolves around the notion of a ‘green thumb’.

When it comes to the wellbeing of plants that are gifted to my care, my friend Jewel says I should offer them a funeral immediately and save them the suffering. She pronounces that I don’t even have a ‘khaki thumb’, let alone a green one.

Sadly, based on my past experiences, she’s been right. However, my recent track record suggests that while I definitely do not have a green thumb, perhaps there’s a touch of khaki trying to break through. This is only down to Jewel’s persistent generosity and guidance. Let me explain.

Towards the middle of 2022 I discovered my sister-in-law had managed to keep Mum’s African Violet alive since Mum’s passing in 2014. It was in Mum’s original pot and still flowered regularly. The news gave me a pang in my heart. A plant nurtured by Mum’s own hand still lived.

In the same moment, I was acutely relieved that my sister-in-law had taken responsibility for it, as I was certain the outcome would have been different if I had been in charge. That didn’t stop me feeling nostalgic though.

It was Jewel who offered me a lifeline.

“African Violets can grow from a leaf,” she explained. “Ask Kaye for a few leaves, and I will pot them up for you in the correct growth formula and potting mix. Leave them with me for a couple of months and let’s see what happens. No promises, but I’ll do my best.”

Enthusiastically, I arranged to borrow the hallowed African Violet and carefully transported it to Jewel’s home. Not only did she re-pot the overgrown original plant for my sister-in-law, but she tenderly tended to four little pots with one leaf each. There were two pots for me and two for my daughter. We hoped something positive would spring from at least two of them.

Months passed, and finally I was joyful to learn that every one of those little pots brought forth a baby African Violet plant.

Finally, I was allowed to take them home. There was an email with instructions from Jewel that I was asked to print and display. The instructions went something like this:

Put the pots inside in a sheltered spot where they will get a little sunlight.

Turn them from time to time.

Water them once a week, and don’t get the leaves wet.

Apart from that, Do Not Touch Them! Leave Them Alone! (This part of the instructions received stern verbal reinforcement on a regular basis.)

Let’s return to my khaki thumb.

Five months after receiving stewardship of my two African Violets, each plant is still thriving. My daughter’s two plants are thriving as well. They are multi-leaved, well-established and to my untrained eyes, still a healthy green frog-like colour.

I have diligently followed the instructions I was given, to the point of wiping a leaf dry and apologizing to it if I watered it by accident. That must be the key to my success, right?

If I had more space, I could share how I recently acquired a cutting from Mum’s favourite Camellia tree. This tree still grows outside what used to be Mum and Dad’s bedroom window, though the home was sold twelve years ago. Jewel has potted two tiny twigs from the one small Camellia branch for me, so fingers crossed. Perhaps my khaki thumb will succeed again.

Friends, may your thumbs be evergreen, and until next time, have a wonderful month.

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