This picture was taken in one of several magnificent plant houses at Kew Gardens that shelter tender or unusual plants. The starry green Sempervivum ciliosum flowers make a lovely contrast with the pink tubular and daisy-shaped flowers scattered across the background.
Not too long ago I would have dismissed succulents and cacti as uninteresting, so I was not particularly pleased to inherit a small collection of four of them. They were raffle prizes that did not have the documents to fly home with their lucky recipient, who gave them a sorrowful, lingering look before departing.
As often happens, by tending them (so far as they need tending, which isn’t much), I’ve grown attached to them. Some of them at least – one may well be dead. I’ve no idea how you would know if that particular plant was dead rather than alive. It’s a gray, spiny, dry-looking cactus that does not grow in any perceptible way.
It is deeply unresponsive to external stimuli. I dropped it into the sink once while watering it and a bit of the gravel mulch fell off. It shouldn’t have been enough to kill it, but that’s when the doubts started to creep in.
Looking on the bright side, it has not rotted or fallen over and does not shrink. I watered it today, looked at it suspiciously, and put it back on its sunny windowsill, wondering idly what the world record is for tending a dead plant… probably longer than a year or two.
What I really need to reassure me is some sign of life. For a green bit to appear, perhaps, or a flower or two like the ones above. But I’m not holding my breath.