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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Minijungle of Madagascar

Minijungle of Madagascar

My cactus has developed a drinking problem. Any time I water it, the water starts gathering at the bottom of its draining bowl - often up to half an inch. But when I go away and come back half an hour later, it is gone. Through the physics of capillary action or through some hitherto unknown black magic, the cactus will lap it all up like an obsessive camel. It must be some sort of strategic evolutionary defense mechanism set off by the fact that I water it at intervals whose irregularity would make the random number generator blush with envy.

This is only to illustrate that I am the Inspector Clouseau of gardening. Some time ago I bought three plants. A pot with three bamboo shoots, a pot with some kind of a three-stemmed bush, and a pot with about a million stalks of what I am going to call - for the lack of botanical sophistication - Savanna Grass. At first, I killed two of the three bamboo shoots, which experts tell me shows innate talent for plant mismanagement. As a confirmation act, I managed to reduce the three-stemmed bush to its possibly unknown one-stemmed variety. Sadly, the remaining stem is trying to take revenge on me and tarnish my horticultural reputation by growing up in a crooked and crazy-straw like manner.

The Savanna Grass story is even more self-incriminating (and possibly worth a movie deal). In a few short weeks, the pot vegetation hair likeness index was downgraded from Howard Stern to Homer Simpson. Apparently, the myriad stalks could not handle the systematic drought I subjected them to and all perished except for one lone soldier who stubbornly held its own on an increasingly decimated battle field. For a little while, I truly pampered that surviving stalk - stopping just short of grating pieces of candy onto its soil - but eventually my incompetence pulled the plug on its heroic fight and it retired to a better place as well.

About a year ago, one of my Czech friends visited Madagascar and she brought me back a sealed plastic pouch filled with various local seeds. With my gardening credentials, it is not surprising that the pouch lay dormant in the uncharted corner of my coffee table until a random act of spring cleaning brought it out into the daylight. The brown seeds were huddling there like a swarm of hibernating bugs, just begging me to turn them into promising and exotic looking seedlings.

Immediately, I caught whiff of the sweet smell of redemption and decided to resurrect my reputation and grow a miniature replica of the Madagascar jungle in my living room. I placed about a third of the pouch's content on a wad of cotton wool and set them on the inside window sill. If they successfully germinate, they will inherit the orphaned pot from the Savanna Grass. Till then I am tiptoeing around my window, anxiously awaiting what green monsters will crack through their little protective shells. As of today, there is a tiny offshoot sticking out of one of them. I am keeping my green fingers crossed.



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