I have never had what you would call a green thumb. My sister inherited the green thumb in my family and can persuade a rock to bloom. I, on the other hand, seem bent on turning most plants into kindling. The sad part is that I love plants and particularly those of the blooming variety. I just don’t seem to have much luck keeping them alive.

My parents were master gardeners and won numerous awards for their landscaping and holiday displays. I managed to absorb only tiny tidbits of their vast horticultural knowledge, like which end of the plant goes into the ground.

My latest disaster has been the two nice, potted evergreens that flank my front door. I planted them two Novembers ago in huge urns and lit them with tiny twinkling lights. They were magnificent – lush, green and soft to the touch. Fast forward to spring when my weekly watering became a bit erratic. They did not like it at all.

One day I noticed a big, stiff, brown section up the back of each plant and I began some serious watering. They perked up a bit, and to cheer them on I added some little blooming violets to their pot. One week at the beach in July during nearly 100-degree weather here and the violets committed suicide.

The evergreens did not look so good either.

More watering commenced and it appeared we had entered a stand-off. There was still a section of the plants that was brown and stiff, but by slightly rotating them, only the nice green parts showed from the street.

August and September rolled around and the temperature continued to stay in the 90s. Although I was watering them regularly, I had undoubtedly crossed the line of neglect and they were punishing me. The brown kept creeping toward the front of the plants until one was as stiff as a Brillo pad and as brown as toast – actually it was toast. The other had one small patch of green left. What to do? Was it too late to salvage them? Which is when I had possibly my very best brain storm in ages.

I grabbed my plant mister (which I had actually never used to mist a plant, but had incorporated it into my ironing routine) and filled it with a diluted mixture of green acrylic paint and water. After refining my technique, I must say that (from a distance) my evergreens appear only slightly anemic. I did have a bit of trouble controlling the direction of the green mist and may have possibly also coated one or more lizards lurking nearby.

I didn’t add the twinkling lights to the plants this year, just to be on the safe side; you know, heat, electricity and kindling – not a good combination. And if you are a smoker stopping by my house, don’t even think about grabbing a quick one on my front porch.

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