My husband says that my best quality (there are lots of bad ones) is my ability to change my mind.
For example, I have long had a fairly inflexible anti-houseplant policy. If I couldn't use it to season a pasta dish, I did not want the damned thing cluttering up my windowsills. When it comes to indoor ornamentals, I am a serial composter.
But despite myself, I've found myself listening to my Garden Rant partner Elizabeth Licata, who gardens five hours west of me, but in a place with a similar climatic psychology, where the deep depression of a five-month winter gives way to a growing season so short and intense, it feels like being shot out of a cannon.
Elizabeth's point of view is simple and sensible: It's nice to have blooms in the house in winter.
So, I've been making a bit more effort towards such a goal.
This year, I am apparently succeeding (!) in forcing leftover 'Purple Prince' tulips. Van Engelen sells them cheaply a hundred at a time, but the yard didn't need quite that many last fall. And I have discovered that the stairway between my basement door and the Bilco doors on the terrace makes a pretty good root cellar. So I potted up the tulips in November, let them sit for ten weeks–and again, I appear to be succeeding (!) with this project.
I've always made a bit of an exception to the no-houseplants rule for amaryllis. I'd buy them cheap at Lowe's and then chuck them after they bloomed, having tried as a young gardener to get them to rebloom and having failed. Inspired by Elizabeth, however, I made a bit more of an effort last summer, treated my potted amaryllis decently, took them out of their pots in early September as their leaves started dying back, cut off the leaves, and let the bulbs rest for six weeks or so in the basement before potting them up again in a shovelful of compost and putting them in a windowsill.
They instantly sent up four glorious strap-like leaves apiece–and no flower stalks. Just the thing to keep me an indoor plant cynic.
Look what just appeared. I guess the lesson is, always keep an open mind in gardening, if not in politics or literature.