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What is a green Thumb?

Posted by maet z5 NL, Canada (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 10:54

I have had people say to me " but you have a green thumb". The last person who said it, I told her that it wasn't that I had a green thumb, it was because I am always searching information and reading about plants. I lugged home books from the library until we got the internet and now I go online. I didn't know anything first when I began gardening.
The first thing I planted was a row of mums along my driveway when I lived in an area where the climate that goes down to 50 deg C and I just dug an hole and put them in. They were all dead in the spring.
Now I know to amend the soil. Don't use a lot of fertilizer but do composting and use manure and sea weed in the compost. I also garden by the quote " first year it sleeps, second year it creeps and third year it leaps".
What is your take on Green Thumb.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Every times someone says that to me, I want to knock them to the ground and stomp on them! OK, maybe that's a bit severe (not really), but it really, really annoys me.

You got it right when you stated: "because I am always searching information and reading about plants." That's all it's about - not being afraid to learn, taking the TIME to learn and learning from your success and failures and building on that.

The people who claim others have a green thumb and they don't are simply trying to justify-away the fact they really don't want to invest the time and energy which is necessary to grow plants.

Kevin


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

um, well I would agree, it is slightly misleading - the idea of natural talents and so forth..........but nonetheless, just as certain types of people are drawn to certain hobbies and occupations, gardening is no different. After all, I could research sky-diving or mountaineering till the cows come home but, as a base coward, nothing would induce me to even make the attempt and if forced, it would be teethgritting and waiting for it all to be over.....so, in that respect, gardeners tend to prioritise certain qualities - a vague nurturing sense, patience, curiosity, willingness to get a bit hot and sweaty, perpetual optimism and a certain callous ability to accept death (frequent)and move on......


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Ditto what Campanula said :).

Annette


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

The reason its irritating is because typically its intended as justification of the speaker rather than praise for the gardener. Its a dumb remark any way you slice it and very shopworn, it shows how shallow we've become and how separated we are from the earth.

When we were an agrarian country a green thumb was necessary for survival, it had nothing to do with inborn talent. These people had one but it was called work. Failure was due to bad land, weather etc.

Many green thumbs were forced off their farms here in the Midwest during the 30s by corporate farms and bankers but they were called sharecroppers or farmers. Some of them fled to California with the vain hope of getting a small plot of land to live on. Instead they ended living in camps working as pickers moving from one corporate grove to the next. All attempts at a garden started around the camps on unowned land were destroyed by the law who patrolled the area looking for them. These people were "hungry" for gardening because they had a love of the land and it was their life.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Tend to take "You have a green thumb" as a statement of appreciation, along the lines of "You have a beautiful garden".

Do agree, however, that only the gardener him/herself can fully appreciate how much effort went into producing the object of appreciation.

This post was edited by SunnyBorders on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 20:56


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

I think it is just one of those sayings that you have to hear in context. Essentially... it just means you are good at growing plants. Some people intend it as a true compliment of your hard work and the nice results. Others are implying you have some sort of luck, or it just happens easily for you... and they have a much harder time than you. :(

A similar comment that I have heard many a time regarding gardening (or any other hobby for that matter) is, " I wish I had time to do that." Implying that they have more important things to do and that their garden would look real nice too if only they weren't such busy important people. By observation many of said people are usually not spending their free time slaving away on a cure for cancer, but instead traveling, shopping, facebooking, gabbing on the phone, etc. Even very busy or ill people will make a little time for things they are truly interested in or care about, and it is really okay to not care about gardening. Interests change over our lives and things get put on the backburner for a while. There is no need for people to come up with an excuse for themselves when complimenting others. But, I bet we all have probably done that at some point in time.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

I think it's one of these catch-all phrases that people say without really thinking about the statement. I really believe it's a compliment. I used feel a bit put down when people looked at my photographs, and immediately said "wow you must have a REALLY GOOD camera!" Now I just thank them profusely. "Why, THANK you!!"


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Another aspect is to act on the information.
With pot plants and window boxes it does take an effort to lugg the watering cans, to do so even you are tired and give fertilizer regularly, hopefully before they turn yellow from starvation.

A friend of mine asked me what was wrong with her tomatos in a window box. Apart from stuffing 5 plants in there it was only half filled with potting soil. She never got around to getting another bag of soil...

I agree about the learning aspect, that is one key factor. Another is an eye for details.

DHs mom is snipping away aimlessly at her rose bushes and fruit trees after more than 30 years ... And doling out weed killer or pesticid at random, one time with a much too strong concentration, because she couldn't find the measuring beaker thingy, oh, and her glasses


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

A green thumb is the result of finding out what plants need and then giving it to them.

Linda


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

I didn't care anything about gardening and plants until last year. Over the past winter I did alot of research of plants and their care online and in books.

This spring I couldn't wait to get out there and play in the dirt. I've learned alot by trial and error.

I certainly wasn't born with a green thumb but do believe when people use the phrase it is meant as a compliment. I've heard it many times.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

There is another phrase I often hear that drives me bats, this is off topic, but its the same thing. "I can't even draw a straight line". Now really, we have triangles & straight edges for that because nobody, even those with a steady hand, can draw a truly straight line. This has nothing to do with the ability to draw and anyone can use a ruler to do this.

Those common phrases are just what people often say who don't know much about the subject at hand---no matter what the subject is-- just to have something to say since its not a subject they have much to say about & they feel awkward. I still don't think its about the person its said to, its about the speaker because a sentence starting in "I" followed by a verb is about the speaker.

One thing is for sure, you are not going to have a lively back and forth discussion about gardening. If you do, it will be a trifle one sided and you will most likely bore your listener.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

There is another phrase I often hear that drives me bats, this is off topic, but its the same thing. "I can't even draw a straight line". Now really, we have triangles & straight edges for that because nobody, even those with a steady hand, can draw a truly straight line. This has nothing to do with the ability to draw and anyone can use a ruler to do this.

Those common phrases are just what people often say who don't know much about the subject at hand---no matter what the subject is-- just to have something to say since its not a subject they have much to say about & they feel awkward.

You are most likely not going to have a lively back and forth discussion about gardening. If you do, it will be a trifle one sided and you will most likely bore your listener.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 2:21


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Perhaps when people say you have a green thumb, you could ask them what they mean and see where it goes from there....
I think it's usually a compliment on the beauty of the garden and your eye for making it so (and yes, you have to put your knowledge and effort into the creation for it to work). I put a lot of effort into my gardens, but I don't consider myself a "green thumb" yet.

Texasranger, was the term "green thumb" actually used in the context you explained above?

Thanks


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

a green thumb is an informed thumb.

dave


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

This always reminds me of the story I heard years ago about the one successful farm among a county of failing farms. A government man sent to find out the secret of this one success was told by the farmer" There are as many marginal farmers as there are marginal farm lands" Al


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

I, too, tend to simply take this as a compliment -- as I believe it often is meant to be.

Yes, I can understand those of you who get annoyed by the comment. To "plant heads" like us, it seems simple enough ... research the plant's needs and vulnerabilities/deficiencies and adjust your care accordingly. But to other folks it is not so easy. Generally because they lack enough interest to :
*research
*integrate useful plant related info into their memory bank
*pay attention to the details (signs both good and bad) pertaining to the plant's health
*commit to the work necessary

It's not unlike the "couch potato jocks" who can quote you all the various stats on assorted teams and athletes. Because they have a deep interest in that area, they seek out and retain info pertaining to it.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Curiously no one in the UK has a green thumb. But a lot of people have green fingers. Why do we need more digits to grow stuff?


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

I tend to take the green thumb comment as a compliment as well, as I do feel that most people are saying it to compliment me.

I do agree w/ the OP about all the effort that goes into gaining knowledge. I spend A LOT of my free time online reading about roses, clematis, perennials, sun requirements, propagation, fertilizing, etc. It's what I do in my free time when I'm not in the garden because I love to learn and I'd rather learn that way than from making mistakes (although I still make tons of them!)

I don't know that a typical person who walks by a garden realizes everything that goes into all that work but I don't think it's usually meant as an insult.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

Usually when the green thumb comment is thrown out there its followed by "I have a brown thumb". In my experience, it starts out with the green thumb comment and ends up with the brown thumb comment. I've talked to people who tried gardening "I bought a few plants one summer and they died and...."

If these died or did badly the assumption is "I just have a brown thumb" and they throw in the towel. You can usually tell in 5 minutes if the person is actually interested in gardening. Usually not.

Its the same thing with drawing. You need lots of practice and hard work perseverance to learn to do this --- and desire. Its a matter of time & effort in both cases. Same thing in playing a piano, a person needs to learn scales and years of practice.

The assumption some people make seems to be that some lucky people, by way of cosmic justice vs cosmic injustice, just plunk stuff in the ground and somehow it just easily grows for them while for other people, this is not the case.

If the finished results or the glamor are the only thing a person wants, they will usually be disappointed and often they give up. On the other hand, if its the occupation itself and the work they enjoy, the final results are just the finished byproduct of that effort and they will usually achieve success. This is true in any endeavor. Talent is not a magic thing, its just enhances certain people in the process and results, its still about hard work and time. There is no easy.


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RE: What is a green Thumb?

"The people who claim others have a green thumb and they don't are simply trying to justify-away the fact they really don't want to invest the time and energy which is necessary to grow plants.

That's pretty much it. There's no mysterious innate ability involved. When you enjoy gardening, learn what works (and what doesn't) and spend the time needed to get good results, your thumb magically turns green.


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