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Saturday, April 28, 2001

JAPAN LITE

Not your average garden-variety squabble


My garden is a mixture of potted house plants, herbs and flowers. I can't help but think that when I'm not home, they squabble. I don't think they're your average garden-variety squabbles, either.

The culprit is Martin, a spiny cactus known for his terrific insults: "Hyacinths come from a line of evil roots!"

"I do not," cries the hyacinth. "Besides, I don't have roots."

"No roots? How can you be a plant if you have no roots?!"

"I'm different. I have -- a bulb."

"A bulb!" shrieks the cactus. "How horrid! Prove it."

The modest hyacinth refuses, at which point, in the distance can be heard a chorus of tulips, known for their cheers: "Give me a 'T'! Give me a 'U'! Give me an 'L'! Give me an 'I'! Give me a 'P'! What does it spell? TULIP!"

"Excuse me," comes a small voice from the hanging basket. "I'm new here. I just bloomed this morning."

"Oh, please introduce yourself," begs the hyacinth.

"I'm a violet. I've spent most of my life in the nursery. You see, my father left me soon after I was pollinated and my mother died in a lawn-mower accident, so I was sent to the nursery.

The old pine tree, taking pity on the violet, says, "Well, don't feel bad, when I was a sapling during the war. . ."

"Yes, we've heard your war stories, Mr. Pine," interrupts the spider plant, who dispenses unwanted advice from the window sill. "But not now, please; not in front of the seedlings."

"Violet. I'd like to introduce you to Miss Ivy," continued the spider plant.

"She's growing so fast, she's already at the top of the trellis."

"Hello," Miss Ivy calls down.

"Nice to meet you," says the violet.

"Miss Ivy, you're quivering," observes the spider plant. "What's wrong?"

"A little windy, I guess," says Miss Ivy.

"Now, now, there's no wind at all today. Tell me why you tremble so."

"To be completely honest," says Miss Ivy, lowering her voice to a whisper, "I'm . . . um . . . I'm afraid of heights."

The cactus falls into hysterics. Soon the whole garden is giggling, to which the tulips chime in "One lip, two lips, we all live for tulips!"

"Those silly tulips have lost their senses," says the spider plant. "I told them to stay away from the poppies -- they're a bad influence."

"Meet the bonsai tree," she continues.

" 'Hajimemashite'," says the bonsai.

Over there in Ueda-san's garden is the sunflower. "Welcome," says the sunflower, not bothering to turn her head away from the sun. "I warn you," says the spider plant, "You're going to get petal cancer if you keep that up."

A rustle comes from the geraniums while one straightens his stem and lifts his bulbous head. "On behalf of the geraniums, the smartest flowers in the garden, I welcome you. My name is geranium, but please call me Cranium."

"And that's Ophelia, the orchid," says the spider plant. But Ophelia is busy making passes at the flying insects. "Ophelia, stop swaying for a moment and say hello to the violet!" But Ophelia was too engrossed with a local bee. "Ophelia, keep your pistil to yourself," advises the spider plant.

Meanwhile, the herb garden is having a celebration for the peppermint, who has just gotten her first job as a culinary herb. "I got a part in the tea recipe!" she gushes.

"Who would ever give a job to a burping mint?" chides Martin, the spiny cactus.

"I do not burp!" protests the peppermint.

"Yes you do!"

"Do not!"

"You always burp when you're watered. I can see the bubbles from here."

The tulips cheer on: "Cultivate! Propagate! Tulips, tulips!"

"Lastly," says the spider plant, "is the wandering Jew."

The violet bows her head to the wandering Jew, who bows back and exclaims, "I've got news everyone. I've converted!"

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