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Green Acre #76: Expanding the Definition of Gardening

I HAVE JUST ordered moss green spray paint from Amazon (where else?).  It was pricy at $10.99, nearly the cost of a replacement for the plant that for unknown reasons went frizzle last month in my lower-right window box, thereby leaving an unpleasant imbalance.

The box on the left is alive and very well, thank you. The one that decided to die, did so, though it still stands military straight and appears to want to remain so.

Since the notion I had last week of replacing them both and doing something clever with the live one seemed exhaustingly effortful, I decided to spray-paint the dead one and call it a winter.

Several hours were then spent taking a tiny sprig of green pinched from the healthy plant and holding it up to the computer screen in an attempt to match the color to online chips of paint.

This was a fraught activity. There are so many shades of green spray paint to choose from, but I didn’t need an assortment of colors, I just needed one that’s a reasonable match. In completely accidental fashion I found a shade called Basil from Design Master’s Colortool collection of sprays—costly stuff, but it will probably be used again. And again.

Plants do inexplicably die, and sometimes do so explicably as well. I’m thinking here of a Princely pre-dinner-party incident with herbicide, him thinking he’d get rid of the weeds when all we had were weeds.

Spray paint is a brilliant gardening tool—if one wishes to stretch the definition of gardening. Those weeds may have crunched under our guests’ flip-flops but they sure looked healthy.

I have also painted astilbe flowers, which look feathery and pretty for a few weeks in spring and then brown and dreary for the rest of the year.

Around the holidays I spray pine cones and bits of garden dreck in gold or silver, depending on my mood of the year. These are then heaped on the mantel, the stair rails, the table, the tree.  A grand Hanukkah bush if you ask me, a Christmas tree if you question the Prince. He always quibbles about the glittery jester that I stick on top. An angel, he thinks, is more suitable. He loses.

Baby picked up some extra shekels a few years ago gilding acorns she picked up in the woods while walking our grand-dog Lula and selling them on Etsy.

I am not at all crafty, by the way. I am just lazy and cheap, which leads me to solutions like this one. Sometimes they work out well, other times the result is less than brilliant.

So here we go with the plant and we’ll just see.

If I were being smart I’d remove it from the window box (maybe it’s just playing possum under the dirt—I mean what  could I have done to kill it?) and lay it on layers of the newspaper—the sports section is one I can live without. And then I’d shake the can as directed and neatly spray the foliage, reinserting the plant into the window box after it dries.

Not being so smart, I won’t even bother to scotch-tape the paper to the window, but just lean it against the back of the box and have at it with the spray.

Since this paint is supposed to be non-toxic—the can says it’s even usable on fresh flowers—I can spritz a bit on the live plant if they don’t exactly match. Which turns out to be unnecessary. The color is perfect, stunningly realistic (if you ask me).

And there was no overspray on my fingers, my good black pants, which I neglected to change out of, or anything besides the paper.

Pretty cool, eh?

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird Stephanie, a/k/a Stephanie Gardens, could probably use a little more adult supervision out in the garden, no? To read her earlier columns, some of which actually discuss real gardening, type Green Acre in the Search box at the top of the screen.

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