Sunday, March 2, 2008


After reading Gina, at My Skinny Garden's post on the Tickle Me Plant, I felt that I needed to write about my history with Mimosa Pudica, aka Sensitive Plant.
When I was in seventh grade my science teacher had us do a project growing these plants in paper cups on the window sill. I was totally amazed at these little guys. When you touched them they would wilt, and then recover in about 10 minutes. This plant is where I trace my interest in plants and growing things.
I moved from the sensitive plant to house plants, and then to a small garden behind our garage. I would spend summers with my Grandparents helping them in their garden and lawn. I also spent some time working in a florist shop in a high school job program.
When I graduated, I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. It didn't occur to me that I could work with plants for a living. I lived up North in Highland at the time, and one day my Brother was visiting from Lafayette and suggested that I come home with him and see if I could get a job working in a garden center in Lafayette. I really didn't think that would happen, but I agreed to try. The first one that I walked into hired me. I then had to return home, pack up my belongings, and move to Lafayette. I lived for a while with my Brother, and then with my Sister, before getting my own place. I worked in that garden center for about 5 years. I met my husband there. We always joked that because we worked so many hours, if you didn't meet someone there, you would never meet anyone, because you never had any time off. I remember that the employees of the shop tied pots, and plastic gardening tools to the back of our truck, along with the "just married" sign.
After we were married I went to work for a company affiliated with Purdue University. My job was to transplant the plants grown in a lab, to flats in the greenhouse, and then into pots to be shipped to the customer. When that job ended, I was offered the greenhouse, if I wanted it. We just had to take it down. That was not a tough decision, and I am still using it today. Then in 1986 we started our own landscaping business. I never made it to school, because I never considered working with plants for a living. One day I just realized that I was doing it, and by then it was to late to go back. So, I am totally self taught, which I think is sometimes the best way.
Just the other night I was talking with my husband and son about the decisions in life that we make. I often wonder where I would be now if I had not taken my Brother up on his offer of coming to Lafayette in search of a job, or what my occupation would have been if I had had a different science teacher in seventh grade.
I have used the sensitive plant in many talks that I have given, especially if the talk includes children. I love to watch their faces when they touch the plant. Who knows, maybe the same thing will happen to them that happened to me. I can think of worse things to do with your life.


Gina said...

V - wow! I love this plant even more now! That a plant like this could have such a life altering impact on your life is just incredible.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

I remember my sister had one of these once. I never knew the name of it. I think my kids need these for Easter...

Connie said...

Nice's fun to see where people's garden 'roots' come from.
My greenhouse is all cleaned up and I am waiting for a thermostat for my seed starting mat to arrive before I begin sowing seeds. YaY!!

Mark said...

I became a science teacher and co-owner of the TickleMe Plant Company after growng my plants in fith grade!
I thought your young gardeners would enjoy growing the TickleMe Plant.
If your bloggers visit they will see the plant that closes its leaves and lowers its branches when tickled. THIS WEEK- your readers can put in the word READERS at check out and we will take TWO DOLLARS off the total of their order. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We love helping children and those young at heart to become excited about plants and nature!
Mark Chipkin
Educational Project Director
TickleMe Plant Company

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your tree peony comment! You will have to post pictures of yours. I only have once since they are kind of pricy but I plan on building my garden! How long have you had yours?