Thursday, March 31, 2005

March 2005

H is for Horticulture! Now that Spring is, well, springing across most of the nations of Roundworld (apart from the upside-down continent of XXXX, and the Land of Fog, but what do they know?), most people's thoughts turn to the planting of plants and the sowing of seeds. And so, my petite furry stargazers, you might like to know of which plants best sort your Signs. Remember, a green thumb is just a black one with moss on it...

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your recommended plant: Stammerlily

Though classed as an Exotic, the Agatean Stammerlily (from the north-eastern province of Khat-Gochertung) is a perfect plant for first-time gardeners, owing to the fact that it thrives in a vast variety of environments: convention centres, wedding reception venues, office boardrooms, family reunions, romantic candlelit restaurants, oral examination halls and even private bedrooms. Your Stammerlily will thrive in any lighting conditions. It prefers to feed on half-formed ideas and embarrassment, and to drink waters of Lethe. A near-perpetual bloomer, the perfume of the Stammerlily causes instant aphasia within a three-foot radius; this makes it a handy plant to take along when visiting overly gossipy relatives.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Your recommended plant: Copperhead Pine

The Copperhead Pine, known in silicaceous circles as the Koom Valley Forget-me-not, is a hardy shrub that takes particularly well to the art of bonsai. Its seed cones resemble Morningstar heads in hardness, spikiness and weight, and it has a dense bole that makes it especially suitable for troll-bashing, that is, the lovelorn bashing of trolls by other trolls...or the non-lovelorn bashing of Dwarfs by - um, let's not go there. Plant your Copperhead Pine in sandy, well-drained soil, mulch in with a few cups of lime (but no coconut), and presto! - no further maintenance needed. You might want to surround it with good fencing and a few judiciously placed landmines, though, even though there's no truth to the rumour that Copperhead Pine seeds are an essential ingredient of Slab.

The Two Fat Cousins 22 May - 21 June

Your recommended plant: Sessifet Flytrap

The Sessifet Flytrap, also known as Seamstresses' Lace, is a robust and enthusiastic plant. Not only does it trap flies, it actively solicits for them on streetcorners! - therefore it's best to keep an eye on it, especially after sunset. Your "Sessie" needs little in the way of fertiliser, but does appreciate an occasional dusting of powder, a squirt of eau de toilette and perhaps a touch of eyeshadow. For especially good leaf colour, try giving it a weekly glass of gin. The Sessifet Flytrap blooms twice yearly, always after dark, and its gently beckoning blossoms waft a rare and sensuous perfume over its potential victims; at these times, never approach your Flytrap whilst carrying credit cards.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Your recommended plant: Sto Lat Peripatetic Potato

Like the Sessifet Flytrap, the Sto Lat Peripatetic Potato - spuddus Brassicaphilus, also known as the Wandering Spud - lives up to its name, but it's far less, erm, brassy. Upon escape, it tends to make for cellars, barns, or quiet, shadowed corners far from restaurants and chip shops. A healthy Wanderer can produce enough of its famous firm, white, creamy tubers to feed an entire company of peckish wizards, but due to the subtly attractive qualities of its foliage it is often grown simply for decorative purposes. This practice has gone on for long enough that the Wandering Spud has evolved violently toxic spikes on its lower leaves and tubers. Just water it thrice weekly and settle for eating reconstituted mash.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your recommended plant: Pink Umbrella Plant aka Bridesmaid's Fancy or Half-Pitcher Plant

The Pink Umbrella Plant is thought to have originated upon Evolution Island, because surely no plant that produces perfect replicas of those twee little cocktail umbrellas could have evolved naturally! Also, its leaves smell suspiciously of rum, and its stalks have a tendency to wobble from side to side before suddenly falling over. Be sure to water this plant frequently, especially round pub opening times, and to give it a monthly feed of leftover Klatchian curry. Never mix it in the same pot with hop plants or barley! If your Pink Umbrella Plant goes missing, you'll probably find it slumped under the lounge-room table. Give it some aspirin and tomato juice and it will soon be back to its usual glory.

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your recommended plant: Monstera Horripilosa

Monstera Horripilosa, popularly known as the Horse Cheese Plant, is a popular Howondaland import with broad, glorious foliage. A night-bloomer, it's favoured by yuppie vampires, demon barbers, accountants and complaints departments of large companies, due to its habit of eating unwanted visitors. Beware of its trailing semi-visible aerial roots, which may be doorways into the Dungeon Dimensions. Fertilise monthly with the blood of virgins; if there's a virgin shortage, a goat or chicken will do nicely (though strangely, the Uberwald Guide to Houseplants fails to mention this). The Monstera Horripilosa will blossom and fruit twice yearly. No two fruits are ever alike, but do avoid eating any of them - even ones that resemble freshly toasted marshmallows - unless you particularly enjoy a painful, lingering death by poison. Hat. Hat. Hat.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Your recommended plant: Klatchian Moss

Just for you boring wussy Boring'uns: the multiverse's only vegetarian carnivorous plant! Of unknown origin despite its common name, Klatchian Moss is a timid, girly plant that prefers to live under well-guarded rock gardens in quiet areas. It's a fussy eater that needs to be approached with caution, not because it's dangerous to its keepers but because it will throw a hissy fit, snap its pods shut and refuse to eat even if wasting away. It prefers tofu, non-dairy blancmange, mushy overcooked sprouts and unsalted oatmeal. Some of the rare wild varieties have been known to feast guiltily on small bits of leftover sausage inna bun, but offering this to domestic ones is not recommended. Mist often with purified springwater. I promise, this plant will never attack you. Trust me on this.

Okjok, the Salesman 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your recommended plant: Muntab Bladderwort

The Muntab Bladderwort, finicus Poncedaquirmii, actually comes from Bhangbhangduc (which is no surprise, since no-one seems to know where the hell Muntab is) and is a tropical rainforest plant that loves damp, steamy, poorly-lit environments such as laundries, royal dungeons and cheap pubs. It roots easily in thin mean soil or unwashed towels and is an easy plant to manage, although you need to be careful of its tendency to send creepers underfoot toward your cash drawer. Some say a sprig of Muntab Bladderwort in one's shoes can prevent unpleasant foot odour; others say it can cause unpleasant foot odour. Whatever the case, it will flourish on an infrequent feed of stale beer and bread mould. Self-seeding.

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your recommended plant: Love-on-the-rocks

Love-on-the-rocks, a deceptively delicate-looking fern from the Genuan estuary, is also known as Stir-it-up or Discordia d'Amour. It prefers steamy rooms and seems to thrive on loud noises, most notably shouting and slapping sounds. Because its beauty makes it a favourite of florists and wedding planners, Love-on-the-rocks often turns up at shall-we-say vitally under-attended weddings, and is often left as an offering in divorce courts. Not recommended for the offices of relationship counselors, but the perfect addition to flower arrangements for your favourite nephew's unacceptably tarty girlfriend. Note: some say that talking to one's plants encourages good growth, but Love-on-the-rocks does not respond well to soft, encouraging endearments.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your recommended plant: -ing Air Plant

Air plants, or aerophages, are a true marvel of Nature: these require no care whatsoever! The -ing Air Plant is the perfect plant for those busy bachelors who are always away on the Sort of Business We Don't Discuss; its blood-red blooms also make it attractive to the sort of young women who sigh rather a lot, wear far too much black lace, and are too preoccupied with the wearing pain of sheer existence to remember to feed or water their plants. The -ing Air Plant has a unique, fascinating natural perfume with a unique, fascinating effect on those who smell it up close - it causes noiseless swearing, a desire to put household cleaning powders up one's nose, and a sudden passion for the appreciation of rare antique objet's d'art. This plant is a real conversation piece!

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your recommended plant: Lancre Tinker's Tonker

Forget those nostrums from the local apothecary! Forget those pale ineffectual potions from the local hedge wizard! Lancre Tinker's Tonker is the real thing. A common Spring-blooming Ramtops weed (phallicus Hoipolloiens), this unassuming plant emits pheromones of such potency that village elders in certain densely-populated areas have instituted compulsory burn-off laws which stipulate that said burning can only be performed by elderly women and certified eunuchs. Of course, such activity always draws a crowd, which ends up rather defeating the point. Ah well, such is biology. Lancre Tinker's Tonker is a very useful plant, but must be handled with care. Best situated next to a cold shower.

The Flying Moose 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your recommended plant: Celestine Rose

Yes indeedy, you lucky ones born under the last Sign of the Zodiac get the emperor of flora as your recommended plant! The Celestine Rose only grows on the lower slopes of Cori Celesti, home of the gods themselves. Its perfume is rarer than the rarest unguents of far al-Khali, the dew that gathers on its eosian petals can turn to pure diamond when captured in a crystal phial, its leaves are as soft as the softest Agatean silk, its thorns...erm. Oh, right, the thorns. Did I mention that the Celestine Rose is beloved of, and under the special protection of, both Blind Io and the Lady? And that they don't take kindly to plant poachers nicking their property? Ahem. Maybe you'd be better off starting smaller, say with a patch of daisies. Less exciting, yes, but also less likely to cause your front door to be split open by a thunderbolt.