Horticulturist Vicky Elzea knows that a lot of people trying to plant a spring garden don't know an ash from a hole in the ground.
"All you have to do is drive around neighborhoods and you see the mistakes people made," she says.
But ask Elzea if she believes that some people actually have black thumbs--that some folks are so incapable of making a garden grow that even their silk plants will drop leaves--and Elzea just shakes her head and smiles.
"Oh, I read the 'Secret Life of Plants' and all that stuff about some people having better auras and better rapports with plants than others, but I just don't buy it," says Elzea, a daily care giver to about 10,000 plants, shrubs and trees at the Highwest Nursery in Camarillo.
"Everyone can learn how to care for plants properly if they take the time. They just have to want to. There is no such thing as a black thumb."
Clearly, Elzea has never seen my back yard, which each year ends up looking like the neighborhood compost project.
Nor could she, I'm quite certain, have heard about my family tree, which is rooted in floral conflict.
If she knew of it, perhaps she would understand.
My story begins a long thyme ago, when my Grandiflora was still a young man in argentea. It was thought there might be a revoluta, but this turned out to be a vicious rumorha.
Grandiflora lived in a communis with a big, friendly dalamsiana named Tristania, a wandering jew named Woodruff and an elegans woman named Rosemary. He worked hard for every dahlia he earned, but it was never enough.
Grandiflora, Woodruff and Rosemary got used to scraping by on very little, but at night, poor Tristania would howl and bark, just as any hungry dogwood.
Now, Grandiflora wasn't the most handsome man in the galax--he had a big bulbifern nose that was always congestum--but he was well-bred. He had always been taught to be polite and respect his alders.
Still, he never thought he would marry. He was poor but free, and wore his bachelor button like a badge.
Then, one day, his life changed when he met Lily, a very poplar girl from philadelphus whose maidenhair fell well below her waist. Instantly, he wanted to kiss her tulips.
But Lily, who was not as impatiens as he, would have none of it. She had been led down the gardenia path before, and had vowed a long time before not to see the world through rose-colored glasses.
"Lettuce take some refreshment, instead," she said, stepping away from his outstretched palms. "Would you like a cuphea caffra?"
"Thank you very mulch," he answered, "but no. I gave it up with nicotiana a few years ago."
Grandiflora paused, and then stepped forward to embrace her.
"Look," he said in a frustrated tone of voice. "I'm getting very irrigated. You are the woman I love, and from that I will never variegata. I would like for us to get marrubium."
But Lily thought it was probably just a rhus. She came from a long linum of notabils women, and no one was going to accuse her of being a horehound.
"You're not the first man who's tolemiea that," she said as she primrose from the chair. "Weed better go now."
Grandiflora must have realized his mistake, because he tried to soft-petal his approach. "Kalmia down," he said. Then Lily began to shiver and Grandiflora took off his cape and draped it over her.
"You'll freesia," he said.
Lily thought this was very galanthis of him, and it was then that she noticed his big, rippling muscari under his shirt.
That night, Grandiflora considered giving her an uncinatum, while Lily thought of the splendens figure he cut. He was a bit narcissus, she knew, but marrying him would be a good idesia. Their love would be perennial.
"I now join you together in holly meadowru," said the minister as Grandiflora kissed his bride a few days later.
The rest of the story is sad.
One day, after my Mum was born, Grandiflora packed his bags. "I must begonia," he said. "Forget me not."
"You're leafing me!" Lily cried.
"Don't be ranunculus," he said. "I'm just going to seek my fortuneana, and then I will be back."
But Grandiflora never came back. Lily raised Mum alone, until she grew up and married my Poppy, Sweet William.
Years later, when their baby--me--was born, Mum looked at my thumbs and saw the black streaks there.
She sighed quite wisterially, for she knew what that meant.
"As we plant, so do we reap," she said.
No greater truth could have been spoken.
It has followed me all of my daisies.