The art and science of Cardening

A tale of finding a green thumb behind the dashboard 

I mentioned to a co-worker the other day that I was thinking of getting some plants. Remembering this, she bought me one over the weekend. I think she has so many already that she hurries to live vicariously through gifting plants to others; she seems like a plant addict, so far as I can tell.

The plant she purchased for me came in a pot that has a hook on it, so that it can be hung from ceilings. Its leaves are on long strands of green spaghetti, and it has purple flowers. She says it’s a petunia. We went out to her car and I moved it from her dark trunk to my backseat, where I hung it up on one of those hang-on handles. I’m thinking maybe I should just leave it there? It gets very good light in the car, and it is fairly safe. I don’t think anyone will break into a car to steal a plant. With any luck, they may avoid my car altogether, thinking I’m a crazy person or flower-child with nothing of retail value.

I could even hang additional plants from each handle, except for the driver’s side, which might get annoying during turns, bumping into my head like a plant-pendulum. But I could have at least three hanging plants. If I ever have people passengers, I can take the plants out or provide each person with a helmet.

Perhaps I will also line up a few potted plants on the ledge near the back window. A hearty plant like a cactus that thrives on direct sunlight might do well; maybe even a shrub or two? How about laying some sod? I could turn my car into a veritable green car this spring.

I wonder if this might get me special privileges, like driving in the carpool lane? If I were pulled over, I could wait for the officer to come around to my window and then say to the plants, “keep quiet, let me do the talking.” Maybe he wouldn’t give me a ticket? After all, people who talk to plants are seen as relatively harmless.

It seems to me that many of us spend so much time in our cars that this may be the next logical step in our and our houseplant’s evolution. My daily commute is sometimes two hours. That’s almost as much time as I spend at home on weekdays, at least while I’m awake. I may as well make my car feel more like my home.

Volkswagen is already traveling down this road; most of their popular Beetles have a big plastic daisy and vase near the dash. Plants in cars might have other benefits as well. Road rage for example, could become less common. Think about it. Whenever I see a VW Beetle trying to merge, I find myself making room for the little guy. Perhaps because his merging doesn’t seem to be the act of aggression that so many other motor vehicles exude. It is not the overreaching confidence of a polished chrome sports car, or the super-sized arrogance of an SUV. He’s not going to hurt anyone with that daisy on the dash. Go ahead, you first. Imagine the privileges one might garner with an entire car-garden!

The next step may be to actually have our cars run on “flower-power.” Alternative fuel vehicles are already on the road, with new innovations always around the corner. Individuals have even taken it upon themselves to convert vehicles to run on bio-diesel; if an exhaust pipe smells of French-fries, it’s probably because the engine is running on the grease those fries were cooked in. So why can’t an automobile smell like petunias?

Anyway, I can’t afford a house, but I would like to do some landscaping and gardening, so I’ve decided to take it to the car. I’m calling it “cardening” — that is my new term, but you can use it, as long as you let me merge.

Adam Overland parks his garden in the Wedge neighborhood.