Green. As words go, it’s pretty unappealing. It doesn’t have the smooth elegance of ‘incandescent’ or ‘dalliance’. Put it next to its monosyllabic brethren like ‘youth’ or ‘wheat’, and it still comes up wanting.
Right off the bat, it throws the hard ‘guh’ sound at you. Say ‘guh’ a few times. Feel that rigidity as your pharynx flings the sound out. If you say it firmly enough, your throat performs the motions it would have had your gorge risen. ‘Guh’ is a vomitous sound and it’s the first thing the word ‘green’ demands of you.
If you push forward with the word, the ‘guh’ gets paired with a ‘ruh’. ‘Gruh’. Could you feel the growl build, wanting to escape you, wanting to be unleashed? Gruh for growl – “a low guttural sound of hostility in the throat”. Gruh, an intimidating opening for a word.
Which is totally let down by the rest of the word. Een. Een een een. It’s clumsy, it’s silly, it’s ridiculous! You can’t respect ‘een’ or take it seriously. ‘Een’ is a sound that tastes of Teletubbies.
So you take the virile machismo of ‘gruh’, add the simpering bathos of ‘een’, and you end up with ‘green’ – a confused, unattractive word. If it were human, it would marry the word ‘rancid’ and they would live an unfortunate life somewhere. They’d always miss their bus and their dog would have diarrhoea on the carpet. ‘Green’ is just that sort of wretched word.
And yet, it represents a lush, gorgeous colour that completely belies its anaemic name. Just look at this –
Oof it’s a lovely colour!
If you synonymise green with plants – and why wouldn’t you? – I sometimes find the colour almost passionate. Yes, I know passion is red, but hear me out. Look at the greens in the picture above – they’re beautiful and calm. They inspire serenity, not strong emotion.
Now look at this –
Greens again, but wild and riotous and lush. Nothing serene here, these are the greens of passion.
And this is actually one of the things I love about Singapore. The pockets of violent green that you see randomly around the city. Creepers that twine and twist around the branches of the Saga tree, ferns that cling to mossy recesses in the Rain tree, pavements covered with the detritus of the Angsana tree. I love it all. It may be planned, as so much in Singapore is, but it’s beautiful anyway.
Seeing as I love green, I tend to favour house plants with beautiful foliage. Flowering plants are nice and all, but they usually sacrifice showy green in favour of showy flowercolour. So you can keep your roses and your begonias; I’ll stick with my stout old dumbcane…
… and my “I wish I knew what this was” plant.
Oh those leaves. They bring me joy.
I’ll end this stream of consciousness post with a bit about growing greens. Lessons I have learnt.
If you decide to grow your own herb garden, for the love of all that is holy, isolate your mint! It is a two-faced seductress that will entice you with its balmy, fragrant leaves. Plant me, it’ll say, you can have mojitos and mint tea. So you put it in with some coriander and basil and it looks lovely and you feel oh so sophisticated about your homegrown herbs.
Except mint is a stone-cold killer that will choke the life out of any other herb that dares compete with it for soil or nutrition. This is the same pot a month later.
The mint invasion has murdered everything except the borage plant. It’s all dead, the coriander, the basil, the chives. In fact, a tentacle of mint was nudging the soil in the pot next to this one. Talk about audacious. Luckily, I realised what was going on and the sprig now lies at the bottom of my cup of tea. I just prevented another massacre, people.
Anguished about my loss, I searched Reddit’s Gardening channel for ‘mint’ to see if I’d done something wrong. As it turned out, you’re never alone on the internet.
Moral of the Story: If you hear strange noises in the middle of the night, that’s your mint plant coming to get you.
Bonus Gardening Photography:
What happens a month after your mother sticks a twig of money plant into a pot?