Thousands of plant species are being pushed to the brink of extinction by global warming, and those already at the extremes are in the greatest danger. This comes to us courtesy of Paul Smith, head of Britain's Millennium Seed Bank, who really should know about such things. This comes as especially scary news in my house, where the plants are plentiful, but not always thriving.
For historical perspective it is important to note that most, if not all, plants that have come into my charge have lived long and fulfilling lives both indoors and out. Way back in college, a female acquaintance of mine marveled at the lack of green things in my very spartan bachelor digs. I suggested if she was keen on growing things that she ought to check out the shower curtain. Feeble jest aside, she took it upon herself to remedy the situation and showed up the next week with the tiniest cutting from her spider plant. We rooted around the cupboards in the kitchen and came up with the only suitable container for a living thing I had to offer: a big plastic tumbler. This is how Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider Plant, came into my life.
Peter moved around Boulder county with me, from one bedroom apartment to another, and all that time I managed to find a sliver of sunlight for him and kept his soil moist. It wasn't until I moved across the country to live with another plant lover that I began to feel the weight of plant ownership. Dogs will bark at you if they don't get fed. Plants just die. I had become somewhat accustomed to the relative ease of caring for one spider plant, but the demands of a house full of growing things. Too much water, not enough water, indirect sunlight, fertilizer, and if you do that well, you'll get to repot the ever-expanding sprout into ever-expanding buckets or pots or pans. It prepared me, in some small way, for the rigors of child-rearing.
Emboldened by my relative success - nobody ever died on my watch - we decided that the ecologically responsible thing to do would be to buy a live Christmas tree. For the second time in my life, I named a plant. We called our blue spruce Fahrvegnuven. Each holiday season, we would dig up the pot from our back yard and drag the beast into our living room where we kept it alive with daily feedings of ice cubes and lavished it with just the right number of lights and silly ornaments.
Until last year. We realized that Fahrvegnuven was not at all well. He looked a little like the victim of a very selective forest fire. All that carting about and shuffling had taken its toll. Drastic times called for drastic measures. My wife called a woman who specialized in tree rescue, and after a quick examination it was determined that Fahrvegnuven would be better off if he was set free. We were told we could visit him anytime, but as yet we haven't had the heart. It's still too soon.
Back at home, Peter Parker continues to fill the big tumbler he started life in, and we try not to speak of the blue spruce in front of the other plants, but they know that sometimes bad things happen to good seedlings. This whole global warming thing, however, is not my fault.