Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Welcome to New York Times readers!

If you're new:

You're probably going to be most interested in the five plants I talked about in the article. These are them:

Please also keep in mind that when I was first asked to suggest plants, I wasn't told that the aim was to come up with "hard to kill" plants. Any plant is easy to kill if you're trying hard enough, and these are no exception. That said, none of them is particularly difficult, either. The Anthurium or Asplundia are probably the hardest two, and they're only a little harder than average.

Profiles of many other plants can be found in the sidebar to your right, under the heading "Plant Difficulty Levels, So Far (from most to least difficult)." The quality of the profiles is uneven; there was something of a learning curve.

If you're not new:

So yeah, the anonymity thing is over, sorta. I'm in the New York Times, under my real name, and gods help me there's even a picture. This would be the "good stress" from a week and a half ago. (Specifically: the "good stress" was the photography part; the actual interview happened in late September.)

You are encouraged to continue to call me Mr. Subjunctive.

The actual article begins here; there's also a photo slide show which begins here. My part starts on p. 8 of the slide show, which is also where the picture of me is, so if you'd like to skip directly to that so you can get a jump on the pointing and laughing, click here. Feel free to leave a comment telling me how you were imagining someone totally different.

This, by the way, is going to count as the post for Thursday morning even though it's seven hours early; the regularly-scheduled Thursday post will appear in the afternoon instead. I wanted to get something up for new visitors earlier rather than later. EDITED 11/11/10 4 PM: Actually, there are still so many people showing up from the Times that I think I'm going to leave this post up top for the rest of the day. We'll go back to normal posting tomorrow, I swear.

HASTILY EDITED TO ADD: It should be noted that none of this would have happened were it not for Mr. Brown Thumb, who recommended me to somebody who recommended me to someone else, in a long chain of events which eventually resulted in the interview. He is therefore completely forgiven for the Hothouse Flower incident.

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1 Doesn't specifically address care for Pandanus amaryllifolius, because I didn't have one yet when I wrote that, but it does deal with culinary use of P. amaryllifolius. So far, treating it the same as my Pandanus veitchiis has been working fine, so the care information probably also applies.
If you're interested in buying a P. amaryllifolius, the only place I know that sells them in the U.S. is Gardino Nursery, which is where I bought mine.
2 It says "Ficus binnendijkii," but they're the same plant. UPDATE: Name is fixed. F. maclellandii is the current correct name, according to the taxonomists; it just happens not to be the name I grabbed first when I was writing the profile.
3 This is an old profile, and I'm not especially happy with it, but the care information is still valid.
4 The plant is usually sold as Carludovica 'Jungle Drum,' but I'm fairly certain that the plant is actually an Asplundia, not Carludovica.


37 comments:

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

You mean, you're a man?! I always thought your avatar was of a big armed & bespectacled haus frau.

I've enjoyed the blog for awhile. Congrats on being stripped of your anonymity in such a public forum.

The more I type, the more salacious this is sounding.

Ginny Burton said...

OMG! What wonderful and exciting news! And you're even handsomer than your avatar.

Please don't forget all us little people when you're rich and famous.

Plowing Through Life said...

This is fantastic news! I can't tell you how happy I am for you. You're headed for great things, Mr. S. (Just don't forget about us little people :)

By the way, I think the article woud have been a much better read, and certainly more interesting, if you'd written it yourself.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the exposure, Mr_Subjunctive! May your blog go viral!

Don

Helen said...

Great article. Great post. And great you! We now even more want to marry you even if you don't want to marry us back. And even if we're married already. To me, you'll always be Mr. Subjunctive, one of the best names in blogging.

ScreamingGreenConure said...

oh my god, well done.

I wanted to say that's not how I imagined you, but it kind of is. Oh well.

CelticRose said...

Wow, congrats on the article! In the NY Times, no less!

I wasn't expecting you to look quite so much like your avatar. Somehow I was expecting someone skinnier and geekier -- the muscles were a surprise. No pointing and laughing -- you're quite handsome, actually.

Greensparrow said...

Oh my! I am so excited about this. For you, and for the New York Times. Goofy of them, however, to keep calling you Mr. Hoover... would they interview Lady Gaga and call her by whatever her real name is? Lame, journalists, LAME. Love the fact that you got the word "pornographic" into a NYT piece on houseplants.
And you do look mostly like what I expected. Which is strange, usually I have wildly inaccurate mental images of people.
Anyway, you ROCK!

Paul said...

Golf claps for Mr. S!

(Also, you can buy pandan plants at Asian food markets. There's no guarantee of availability and they never advertise, but they're worth a try...though I have no idea how many you would find in your part of IA. I got my betel vine from Gandhi Bazaar for $7 when all I could find online was a $30 one from FL. Immigrants are GREAT!)

Pat said...

Corblimey, I've heard of that paper. Nicely done. You look fine and more like your cartoon than I expected. Though as an eccentric plant grower a fine, big beard is helpful to the image. I am not going to get famous until I can plait mine properly.

Paul, I used to have a betel vine I grew from a bundle of stems I bought from the Thai shop fridge for under a quid ($1.50ish). It grew too huge and I gave it away.

Liza said...

You're adorable! Congrats, fine sir!

Annie in Austin said...

Reading NYTimes this am with breakfast...saw first 2 experts & thought "Mr Subjunctive should have been in this article". A few lines later, there you were, looking more like your avatar than one could reasonably expect. Congrats!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

MRBROWNTHUMB said...

How cool is this? I'm glad to see someone who does good work with their blog get some recognition. Now that I've been forgiven for the book thing, maybe you should reconsider Twitter too.

I saw the request on Twitter and thought of you and that's how I came to recommend you to the person who had contact with the writer at the NYT.

Kenneth Moore said...

I have to agree with most of the comments--my surprise was that you actually *did* look like your avatar!

Your plant picks are wicked, of course, Mr. S--of your picks, I only have the screw pine, but it's thriving. Of the other picks, about half of what was suggested I have owned and killed already. And I was totally trying to keep that rabbit's foot fern alive, too...

Big frakkin' ell oh ell about Hothouse Flower! I don't blame MrBrownThumb that much... I blame that 14-year-old Filipino schoolgirl CIA agent.

...does this mean I can interview you for the magazine I work for, now? ;)

Lance said...

Congratulations, this is very cool.

And you do look surprisingly like your avatar. In all the best ways. And certainly nothing to laugh at.

Emily said...

Very exciting! Ditto on Ginny's third comment. ;) Any plans to expand on your fame?

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the NY Times people. After struggling with my in-law's plants for a decade (they passed away shortly before I met my husband) it has been therapeutic to read your blog and learn that it's not that I am a terrible person, they just liked some really lousy plants. I may get a t-shirt made saying "Easter cacti are pricks" just to remind myself the next time the blasted thing falls apart.

So thank you for the jolt of mental health this morning, I really needed it!

Lance said...

I love that t-shirt idea - change it to just 'cacti are pricks' and you might sell a lot of them

Tigerdawn said...

It is really too bad you're already taken! And I guess the whole incompatible sexual orientation thing...

allandrewsplants said...

Congrats! Very different list of plants you gave compared to what most would generally expect in an article like that as well which is also pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Hey, your secret is safe with us, Mr. S. And to me you're still the cartoon since I live on the goatpath of the information highway and don't do photos. Actually I hated it when my psuedonym on my newpaper column was blown and I became known as Ms. Nature which included unsolicited phone calls to collect bee swarms, rescue skunks from swimming pools and save housewives from spotted salamanders. But you've earned the attention for that great blog. Congratulations.

Diane said...

Congratulations! I have to say, the husband is a lucky guy. So did you get the muscles by hauling pots and water all over the house?

Probably the best "which houseplants should I buy" article I've seen. I hope the terminology errors were the fault of the author and not the plant experts (I'm thinking of the Spathiphyllum "stamen"). And thanks to your blog, and my own experience, I was able to take the Asplenium and Croton recommendations with a HUGE grain--nay, block--of salt. Now I just need to find myself an Asplundia.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

Well, it looks like I'm late to the party as usual Mr. S. I wanted to say though that you finally are getting the recognition you so deserve. Your research and, therefore, knowledge of plant is herculean. But what makes your blog so terrific to me is your creative, witty writing ability that makes it all so interesting to read about--no small task for sure!
Congratulations!

Cynthia Bertelsen said...

Just today I was saying to my husband that I needed to do something abut some house plants for our new house -- yes, you guessed it, I usually kill off plants, so I am looking forward to reading your blog on a regular basis. Congratulations on the NYT shout-out.

Zeï said...

Congratulations for making in the article, even if you say it's also much of a contact and being at the right place at the right moment. You also simply deserve it, you know?
And yes, well about the picture, I was kind of hesitating to look at it this morning, and was at first glad I could actually read the article without seeing it. I was wondering if it would change anything in the reading and enjoying of your blog. But then I was devoured by curiosity and had a peek. I must say and agree with most, the muscles and most importantly the overall healthy look is a surprise, because you were sometimes refering to the heat-inconveniences and such so I thought you would look paler, and somewhat geekier. It IS true that you look way too much like your avatar, but I cannot deny it is a pleasant constatation. And after the day, now I know it won't change a thing in my interpretation of your posts. I guess I'm just glad I can put a face on a name.

Thomas said...

Very cool, and well deserved. For alot of people a houseplant is as close they get to gardening. You make it feel doable, okay to get passionate about, and let them know the science is accessible. Keep it up.

Also, I really wanna believe I've grown past the out-age of point and laugh - unless it's invited, of course. That said, you're hunkier then I imagined (dust jacket ready?)

paivi said...

Wow, you're famous (and handsome)! Congratulations! No better way to shed one's anonymity than getting your picture on the NYT.

Tom said...

Is the guy who recommended sago palm insane? I've never met anyone who was able to keep one alive as a houseplant for longer than two months...

susan harris said...

Congrats, Mark! And shame on the Times for screwing up the classification of your picks, calling them hard to kill.

susan harris said...

Btw, you're a hunk.

mr_subjunctive said...

All:

Sorry I didn't reply to the comments earlier. As you might imagine, stuff is feeling very weird to me now (couldn't even begin to describe), and I'm trying to keep up with e-mails as best as I can, which means I'm not doing as well with the comments.

For those who asked, I promise I'll try not to forget the little people. I'll focus all my forgetting on the big people instead.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! You really should get started on a book now!

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

You'll always be Mr. Subjunctive to me. Delighted that you are getting national press--luckily you live in a remote location or that photo would get you some stalkers.

Megan said...

Congratulations!!!! Hope you get a book deal. I'll buy it! Thanks for all the ID help on our blog too :)

Ivynettle said...

Wow, congrats!

Stepping out of anonymity must be pretty scary - I know I'm leery of even linking this name to some others I'm using, because one of them would make me more identifiable... and that's just me, and who even knows me or would care to find out who I am?

mr_subjunctive said...

Ivynettle:

I know. I nearly called the whole thing off more than once, because of not wanting to lose the anonymity. And so far, I'm not convinced I made the right decision.

ScottE. said...

Congrats. Nice to know who the man behind the ficus is!