“Hello, my name is Melanie and I’m a Plantaholic. And so is my father.” My Mother says my Dad and I should not be allowed near garden centers, plant sales, or greenhouses without adult supervision and that under no circumstances do we count as adult supervision for each other. (Bookstores are also on that list but that is a different story.) When my parents come up from Atlanta , Dad and I will sit at the table poring over plant books reading descriptions of exotic trees, flowers, and shrubs. If it has interesting fruit, an odd name, a fantastic fragrance or is supposed to be impossible to grow in North Georgia we wish we had one. Come to think of it, we probably want five.

I am not sure when the illness started but I think it may have something to do with the compost pile in the yard in Atlanta. It has essentially filled in what used to be a steep ivy-covered bank between the driveway and the neighbor’s house and early in its life it produced volunteer vegetables like tomatoes, squash, and whatever other kitchen scraps sprouted. Somewhere along the way the compost pile started to have plants resting there temporarily while a suitable place could be found for them in a flower bed or up at the lake house. This, of course, led to the occasional tree being over wintered in the compost pile “just to make sure it gets a good root system.” Then there were the plants that should not survive in Atlanta but did due to the warmth of the composting leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and banana peels.

In our defense I have to state that in both of our yards many of our plants are edible though that does not mean we grow just “regular” things. My neighbor grows tomatoes and cucumbers like a normal person. I, however, am the only one on my street trying to grow Pineapple Guavas, Pomegranates, and Kumquats. In an attempt to prove to Mom the usefulness of all the things growing in the yard Dad and I will can, bottle, dehydrate, freeze or ferment things from time to time. Dad’s favorite concoctions contain quince. Quince pie, quince jam, quince wine, quince marmalade, candied quince, quince paste… He is obsessed with that tree. I have to admit that it is a pretty tree but the fruits are rock hard and so tart that if you tried to eat one fresh it would turn your face inside out. I think the only thing that has saved my Dad from divorce or death at the hand of my Mom over the years is that he did not actually plant the quince tree himself.

Is being a plantaholic hazardous to my health? Not unless a quince falls on my head. Is anything going to stop Dad and me from trying to grow Key Limes in North Georgia? Of course not. After all, we are plantaholics – we can’t help it.

Melanie Rochat

Melanie Rochat

Melanie Rochat is an artist and illustrator from Atlanta, Georgia who takes her inspiration from her surroundings and interprets what she sees into pen and ink renderings. Her illustrations include works in texts, manuals, children's books and commercial applications and her fine art pieces hang in private collections in the United States and Europe.