Trees in the Kitchen

I have not one, not two but three trees growing in my kitchen these days. They had gotten too tall for the garden dungeon in my basement, so I have set up space and lights in my kitchen to overwinter them. I have a feeling that my mother-in-law will be rolling her eyes (discreetly, of course) at this. She does not approve of people who rearrange their homes to accommodate their plants. I think she thinks it is unnatural.

I find that I run into this attitude from a lot more people than my mother-in-law. There are many people who believe that favoring a plant or inconveniencing yourself in your home for a plant is somehow unnatural. It is just a plant.

I can’t name the number times I have heard that phrase. It normally used right after someone has wreaked havoc on a garden bed or has caused the untimely death of a beloved potted plant. It is also delivered as a muttered, under the breath retort to me as I shriek at the culprit. It is only a plant. Just a plant. What is the big deal?

My husband use to mutter those lines as well… until one day our mentally deficient cat leapt onto the shelf where he keeps his painted miniature collection. Gosh, do you know what 100+ hours of work and 50 or so miniatures look like when they fall to the ground? It looks amazingly like a flower bed that has been careless trampled by someone painting the house. He understood from that day forward and the cat surreptitiously got a can of tuna that night.

A gardener’s plants are more than just green oxygen machines. They are the investment of our time. Our time is a measured part of our life force. With every passing minute, we are one minute closer to death, so for every minute we spend doing something, such as nurturing a plant, we transfer the value of those minutes to the object of our attention during that time.

I am not simply rearranging my home to accommodate my plants. I am accommodating little pieces of my life. And, just for the record, I think I am perfectly justified in threatening to take a pair of pruning shears to anyone who messes with little pieces of my life. And for the winter, 3 rather tall pieces of my life will be occupying the kitchen and there is nothing at all unusual about this.

16 thoughts on “Trees in the Kitchen
  1. It’s just a * always precedes the simple fact that somehow that person feels they are more important than the things you value…be it book, plant, dog, cat, car or house. And in that they are devaluing things that you care about and ‘you’.

    Inconveniencing yourself for a plant …LOL…is called gardening.


  2. My husband shares the previous incomprehension of yours. Shame we haven’t got a cat ….


  3. Plants are an investment in time and money. When you pour time and money (as well as hopes and dreams) into something, 1) you want to take care of it, and 2) you don’t want it trashed by a third party. To the people who don’t get it, imagine someone keying your new car, spraying graffiti on your front sidewalk, parking in your brand new driveway and leaving an oil leak, spilling red wine on your new carpet–something like that.


  4. Melanie on

    So true, so truell My living room windows have my “babies” lined up in front of them. Coleus, plectranthus, abutilons, fuchsias, sweet potato vines, a bay tree, etc….. In the basement are growlights with more “babies” In the laundry room are 3 large pots of phygelius, salvia ‘black and blue’ and Ruellia ‘tall purple form’ In a spare bedroom is a lemon grass plant, a big geranium, and 3 lantanas. Is there a support group for people like us???? HA!
    Shaker Hts. gardener,


  5. It’s good to know that someone else is crazy enough to grow trees indoors. I have three lemon trees, a grapefruit tree and a bird of paradise in the house. That doesn’t include what I’m trying to propagate in the garage over the winter (a few hemlocks and a bunch of purple leaf plums) I would probably have more if I had the room!


  6. I live in a small apartment. All my houseplants are lined up on the dining room table. It’s the only place in the house with a chance of direct sunlight, and for the many cloudy days we have in WA, I took out the regular bulbs in the light fixture over the table and put in full spectrum bulbs instead. I eat at the computer table or on the couch. My plants are the other forms of life that share my space so I take care of them as I would any other life form that might live with me.


  7. My three cats were a little miffed when I moved their favorite beanbag chair to make room for a plectranthus and a rosemary topiary to overwinter in “their” room. Everyone else makes allowances for my gardening obssession. Or at least pretend to.


  8. And there is not one thing I can add to what you’ve written. I could have written the same thing you did, just not as eloquently or effectively. Thank you for further validating one of the very purposes of my life – to work with nature in sustaining it. I have selfish reasons, too. I just like growing things.


  9. My husband rolls his eyes every fall when all my potted plants come inside and return to their spots on the windowsills. Maybe I need a cat?


  10. years ago I had a lovely houseplant that must have been in the perfect conditions for that plant (? what was it? I can’t remember!) but it got huge, and looked wonderful. The kids would throw balls in the living room (aka the greenhouse room as my husband called it) and I was always worried about my A. violets and ‘The plant’ -the gorgeous, full , perfect houseplant that somehow I was growing. So the kids got fussed at regularly. One of them said one day ‘I think you love that plant more than us’ – I said that I didn’t but did retort that the plant did have the good quality of never talking back! I’ll have to get another one of those… as soon as I can find out what the name of it was…


  11. I have to smile. As I write this, my light garden is lighting my office, which is right inside the front door where most people would have a “sitting room.” The desk is a bit cramped because I have to have room for all the plants in their winter home. Come spring, they move outdoors to make room for the seedlings. Convenient? No. Designer chic? Definitely not.

    You can see it here:

    Great post!

    –Robin (Bumblebee)


  12. I so understand this post! My husband treats me like I’m crazy over my plants. Good to know I’m not the only one!


  13. Sue, Linette – I have found cats are invaluable as a teaching tool 😉

    Carol – Absolutly!

    blueblue, mss, Janet – You are so right. Any with that logic, I can never understand why people (non-gardeners) do not understand.

    Melanie – Support group? Of course there is. Master Gardeners of America. I just can not wait till I have the time to become one.

    Dave – I have run out of room as well. I am still hoping for the greenhouse to enable me some more.

    OldRoses – A cat just knows its place in the command chain, eh? Mine are the same way. My stupid one will try using my plants as litter boxes if he feels I have stepped out of line. *grrr*

    Kylee – “I like growing things” is the best reason of all.

    Muum – I will have to remember that line when my kids start to complain (which is inevitable)

    Robin (Bumblebee) – Wow! I love that setup! And te color of the room is awesome. My seedling (when I can get the to survive) are also given space in the kitchen. We do what we must, eh?

    moonroot – We are not alone. Never alone as long as we grow what we love.


  14. Lisa at Greenbow on

    Oh girl you have hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much for writing this. I must share it with others that need some insight into the gardeners soul.


  15. Couldn’t keep myself from smiling when I read your article. Why is it always husbands? — We have an arrangement: my dearest is allowed to use the lawn mower and nothing more in the garden; and my job is it to protect anything that comes in its way.
    In fact, I’ve infected my son with this indoor-tree disease. He is growing an avocado, which has almost reached the ceiling and makes it hard to open the window in his room — causing his father to mutter under his breath when he enters.
    So much for plants bringing harmony into your life. 😉


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