Is a 'Green Thumb' a talent, or is it learned?
Groene vingers in the Dutch, the Swedish have gröna fingrar, the Italian, pollice verde. 綠拇指. We who speak English say green thumb or green fingers. The literal meaning comes from pinching, pinching. I frequently have a green thumbnail when I've failed to pick up secaturs before going into the garden.
We learned by reading garden books, talking with great gardeners, learning the names of plants. Some of you studied horticulture or landscaping in a formal academic setting. Someone asked me how I know all those plant names. How did you learn the names of your friends? One at a time.
Many of us whose plants thrive were brought up by parents or grandparents who gardened. We acquired mentors like Ms. Billie who yanked up echincea plants past blooming and said, "Plant these and cut them back. They'll live." She broke off pieces of hydrangea and instructed, "Stick this in the ground, it will root." We tried, we failed, we came back and tried again.
Perseverance pays in the garden. A mistake should cause us to come back again to try once, twice more. When my caryopteris so carefully rooted from Miss Billie's plants failed to make it through the winter, it took a while to figure out that it really died of wet feet when the Upper Garden flooded in early fall when 8 inches of rain fell in an hour, a phenomenon repeated only twice since, but my plants are better situated for drainage.
Secrets of a Seedscatterer