The Way You Hold Your Tongue


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Some plants just seem to grow well despite what you do or don’t do to them. The zygocactus or schlumbergera is one such hardy plant. Everybody seems to have magnificent specimens during flowering season. But have you ever been  good at growing a plant that others may have less success with? And what’s more, you have no idea why? This has been the case for me with cymbidium orchids.

A friend remarked on my apparent talents in this regard when she visited my tiny courtyard recently.  I confess I was tempted to take credit, but had to admit I really had no idea why. Before you award me moral points for honesty, it was simply fear of being found out. She would have been onto my little deception immediately. She is no slouch in the garden either, being the queen of phalenopsis orchids, but professes success with cymbidiums eludes her. So why do we get different results? I really have no idea.

Comparing our methods there appears to be little difference in our regimes. We live in the same climate zones although she is closer to the beach. We are both avid gardeners although she is far more methodical than I am. Oh all right! That’s two important differences.

My mother would have explained the mystery by saying:

‘It’s all in the way you hold your tongue.’

I considered this advice carefully as a child when my chest remained stubbornly flat but realised after some serious lingual gymnastics that she was being facetious.


Pink cymbidium orchid

Pink cymbidium orchid


This morning my green-thumbed buddy and I joined another friend for breakfast after an early morning walk. Discussions are wide ranging during these lovely interludes. We share so much history and many common interests, including gardening. Despite a shaky start, I came away feeling uplifted just for being in their company. They have amazing emotional barometers but I feel sure they didn’t notice the positive effect they had on me.

So what is this serendipitous confluence of elements that results in successful nurturing, whether it be plants or friends?

If you’re expecting answers I’m afraid I have none. It remains a mystery  to me.

Maybe I’m not holding my tongue quite right?

Perhaps the importance is in just holding it?

Or maybe this is a case of tongue in cheek?

25 responses to “The Way You Hold Your Tongue

  1. A fun article Robyn. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and have one or two items that defied the odds of survival, but still did. One is the indoor African Violet. As a person who doesn’t read instructions much (if ever), my plants have been at the mercy of experimentation. It took a while to get the water needs correct with the violets, but they survived. I haven’t ever had much luck with orchids I’m afraid. Why? Who knows, but maybe your explanation might have something to it. Great photos by the way.


  2. I have an ear worm now: ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’. They way you hold your tongue… Except that line’s not in the song. I can remember my mother using the same expression as yours did.

    African violets have a mind of their own. One lived happily in a sunny spot on my kitchen window sill for years. A friend had one that lived just as happily in a dark corner on top of his TV set. He attributed this to the fact that when he played his favourite music he would pick up the violet and dance around the room with it.


    • Ha ha ha! That’s one of my favourite oldies! Darn it! I’ll never sing it with the right words again. I love the old expressions. My grandies think they’re hilarious.
      I love your African violet story. I talk to my plants (and to myself) but have never danced with them. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Its my first time reading something like this. And i want to thank you Robyn, thoroughly enjoyed the Intel. Plants are such beautiful surroundings! Fascinating Intel . ☺ – Cezane


  4. Perfect. And the randomness of plants “taking” is one flaw in those reality shows that create a garden in 24 hours flat. Making a garden isn’t like building a house: odd rooms or bits of roof don’t die off without reason, or spring up in unexpected spots. I like that in a house. And I like the opposite in a garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m late reading this post, Rob, but just love it! Very clever wording. And right now, I suspect you’re having a wonderful time in the outback while all sorts of surprises are happening in your little courtyard – all patiently awaiting your return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Meg. I have reception but a bumpy ride to try and write. Thanks for kind words. An all female road trip is quite an experience! 🙄 such a laugh. My orchids will be missing me.


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