I experienced a tragedy recently over the Christmas break. This is not unique, nor is it entirely as dramatic as I’m about to make it, but let’s just say Santa took away as much as gave this year.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it back and set the scene:
EXT. A QUIET STREET ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE. EARLY MORNING. SPRING.
EVAN, 29, is taking his dog on his morning walk. He is in sweatpants and a hoodie, hair akimbo. He is handsome but not conventionally handsome. Handsome in the way Spencer Tracey would’ve referred to Barbara Stanwyck as handsome. He has sleep in his eyes. He walks slowly though deliberately, as if trying to finish a race with as little enthusiasm as possible. FINN, his dog, SNIFFS the ground as they walk.
Suddenly there is a large CRASH. Evan whips around and sees a potted FIDDLE LEAF FIG strewn about the sidewalk, innards splayed on the curb, and a WOMAN wiping off her hands and retreating back into her brownstone. Evan rushes over, reaches down and cradles the plant’s trunks .
What have they done to you my sweet precious child?
With the strength of two underdeveloped six year-olds Evan whisks the fiddle leaf fig up and rushes it back to his apartment. SHRIEKING can be heard. It is faint but high-pitched and definite.
INT. EVAN’S APARTMENT. MOMENTS LATER.
Evan pours soil into an empty planter.
Breathe, dammit! BREATHE!
At this point he realizes he’s probably Faye Dunaway-ing this whole scene but he continues anyway. He lifts a watering can and out pours a nourishing stream over the soil and onto the plant’s roots.
(in his best Gene Wilder)
LIFE, DO YOU HEAR ME! GIVE MY CREATION LIIIIIIIFE!!!!!
Woo boy, that was an extremely histrionic way of saying I found a plant on the street one morning, picked it up and put it in a pot. La-di-da, right?
I will say this though: That fiddle leaf fig was a fucking BE-YOOT. Gorgeous! Even more so since I saw a woman chuck it on the street the morning of garbage day here in New York. After all it had been through I really considered the fact that it lasted all of spring, into summer, well past fall and onto winter an act of Jesus taking the proverbial wheel.
Then winter break came and shattered my great fortune like one of those lollipop hammers in Candy Crush:
It was going so strong! Sure my apartment doesn’t get a lot of DIRECT SUNLIGHT but the only people in Manhattan who get DIRECT SUNLIGHT is (in this order) 1) Donald Trump 2) Sarah Jessica Parker 3) Richard Kind (I know, weird, right?) 4) DeBlasio and 5) Gloria Steinem. THAT’S IT. NO ONE GETS DIRECT SUNLIGHT. And, yes, I was gone for a week but I had a neighbor come in a water it while I was gone. I did everything I was supposed to do! The fact that I was able to keep a fiddle leaf fig–an orphaned fig no less–alive for this long had to have meant something, right?
It meant something alright. It meant my thermostat hadn’t kicked in yet:
Alas, the silent killer of the house plant is a slow and steady hiss: The radiator. The bastard! It had gotten so cold while I was gone for Christmas the steam heat in my apartment completely obliterated my precious fig.
I let it go for awhile; its rotting corpse withering before me. I tired to be okay with it, really I did, but the only thing more depressing than a dead house plant is knowing we gave Tom Hanks an Oscar for Forrest Gump, so I took some action and had it replaced:
Not what you expected? Well, neither did I, but the local florist on my block had palms in stock and it was palms I got. I could’ve been precious. I could’ve been demanding. I could’ve broken the bank getting a designer house plant that was a littler more trendy, but instead I went for what was cheap and in season. Because you know why? Daddy’s on a budget and these are the realities of life. YES, it makes my apartment look a bit like the safari section of a Ralph Lauren department store and, YES, I’m in danger of some nasty paper cuts, but in the end I have a live, vibrant, green, living, live and LIVING thing in my apartment and it is a sight to behold.
I guess the lesson is this: do what makes you happy as long as it’s within your budget. Fiddle leaf figs, although ‘of the moment’ (hello, Elle Decor, there are other shrubs out there), are also pricey, and if you can’t afford what Richard Mishaan is using in his interiors then don’t sweat it, my friend. A little green can go a long way, no matter what kind of green it may be.
Bring some life into your space and don’t be deterred when it dies. It will be worth the experience and brighten up your day.
BTW: NYC Pigeon Pendant by Three Potato Four. Check them out!
Thanks for the encouragement. I just brought a fiddle leaf fig home a couple weeks ago and my anxiety level has gone through the roof. I spend time every day inspecting it for any signs of stress. I’m determined to make this relationship work.
I apologize for just getting to this! I thought I replied yesterday Your determination is enviable but as anyone who’s ever owned one before will tell you: these things are real assholes. Beautiful, but assholes.
Don’t beat yourself up when you start seeing leaves fall. Sometimes–these things–they just shed, and it’s not because they’re dying, but because they’re assholes. Stick with it. Like Kay said below hers was completely bare and still came back. If you’ve got it in a spot with LOTS of sunlight and where the temperature is regulated you should be golden. GOLDEN, MY FRIEND.
Ok, that’s it for my rant. Thanks for reading!!
hilariously told! i have a thing for flf’s too (lucked out by finding 5 foot tall ones at home depot for less than $30…also IKEA has smaller 2.5/3ft ones)…late last summer when i moved I neglected one of them and it ended up looking WORSE than yours – it had NO leaves. i wanted to cry lolol. It was once so lush….but I moved it to a spot that gets more sun, continued to water it as if it were alive and lo and behold it started thriving! in about 3.5 months it’s grown 14 new leaves! still very sparse looking but excited to see it grow! (& your planter is lovely!)
Thanks so much for checking it out! I’ve heard the same about fiddle leaf’s. They are TREMENDOUSLY fickle and fussy but hearty in a way that they shed but always come back.
The sad truth is, if it were spring or summertime I could’ve transferred it outside and given it a second life, but with the cold in New York (and the fact that AT was coming I needed *something* in that planter) I had to say my good-byes. It was awful. Those things are gorgeous when they’re not being so dramatic.
Thanks for reading! Hope I hear more from you. Btw GREAT find–$30 at Home Depot? I know people who’ve paid $200 for 3 footers!!
Yes, I’ve bookmarked you so I’ll definitely be a regular reader. Found your blog via AT and it’s nice to add another talented DIYer to my blog roll – and a dude to boot! You now join a handful of males (including Daniel – who I consider a friend as well) in my blog feed. Very nicely done on your apartment and I look forward to reading along! (keep an eye on HD for FLFs…and IKEA stocks them for $13!)
That’s so very kind of you, thank you. My overwhelming need to people-please has now been kicked into overdrive knowing you bookmarked me alongside of guys like Daniel.
And thank you for adding to the urban legend that is Ikea and their fiddle leaf figs. Everyone tells me about them, but like the Loch Ness monster, or Big Foot, or Jared Leto’s probable Oscar I refuse to believe it. Not that I;m in a hurry to get caught back up in that racket. They are, I would venture to say–without an ounce of hyperbole–the botanical equivalent of spousal abuse. The ups and the downs with those things are just too much.
I’m actually going next week for a client so I will keep my eyes peeled!