Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Gnomes and Morning Glories

Well, as you probably know well by now, I am no gardener. My beautiful wife, the well sainted Lady Barbara, is a wonderful gardener. And, truth be told, I am making a concerted effort to learn about flowers (apparently I like them), weeds (apparently not be confused with flowers) and other stuff (supposedly plants aren't supposed to die when you put them in the ground).

My reticence of gardening came no doubt from a highly traumatic childhood, and has left deep, psychological scars, that will doubtless take me decades (if ever) to recover from. Something about being required to remove certain types of plants (the aforementioned weeds) from the flower beds, without any description of which plant was what? Oh sure, I could pull a dandelion out, but that was pretty much the apex of my weed spotting ability. Despite my Dad's fairly firm insistence that I "know about weeds", back then the only weed I really knew anything about certainly didn't grow in our flower beds! So when Mom would come along to check on my progress, she would get just the teensiest bit testy as I had somehow pulled out half of her flowers. Hey, if the stoopid plant didn't have an actual flower on it, how was I supposed to know it wasn't a weed?

I remained in my happy ignorance of all things gardening for many decades, smugly appreciating a flower by sight, and realizing that I didn't need to learn anything else, save that it was pretty, and occasionally smelled good. All that changed about a decade ago when Barbara and I got together. She has a stunning rock garden, that she dutifully tends to, and produces many wonderful swatches of color, and scent. And she also keeps a Hosta bed, with flowers, under the huge Maple tree in the front yard. She has always maintained that I don't need to assist her in these areas, and I happily accepted that point of view for many years. Except that she also has this habit of asking me for my opinion. Like which flower should go where? Well, that just put my foot on a slippery slope of asking for more information, so that I could give her my learned opinion on something about which I knew absolutely nothing. See how she sucked me in? As if appealing to my testosterone driven ego wasn't enough, then she slyly appealed to my sense of achievement. "Isn't there anything that you would like to see?", she oh so innocently, asked me one warm, balmy day. "What's your favorite flower?" she continued. My first response was to quickly look at the garden, and blurt out whatever was the first flower I saw. Apparently "A Rose?" wasn't the correct answer. So, I finally had to admit that I really do like Morning Glories. Yes, an ironic answer from a Night Owl such as myself, but they have a brilliant and deep hue that fairly resonates with beauty and passion. Oh. Oops, now guess who gets to plant the aforementioned Morning Glories, and hope they live? Aye yup, you got it in one. And thus began my eventual decline into the current state of Still Not A Gardener But Know Just Enough To Kill Any Plant I Touch.

And now you know why I have been planting, and killing Morning Glories, for the past few years. Well sure, there was that one year when they grew up from a huge bucket on the driveway, at the sunniest corner of our house, ("Oh sure they'll be fine there, you did read up on them, didn't you?") up past the garage, and stretching ever yet higher to our deck above and then making a neat ninety degree turn to run along the eaves. I had installed some small diameter PVC piping left over from a recent plumbing disaster, and fishing line to "train" (yeah right, how the hell do you train a plant? It's not like the thing is ever gonna "Sit", or "Fetch". But they do "Play Dead" quite well) Miss Gloria on where to go. That Summer I had the longest vine of flowers I had ever seen. As opposed to the nicely rounded bushes of Morning Glories that I saw in all the catalogs.  The problem was that Miss Gloria would only flower in about three foot sections along the vine, then those blooms would die, and after a bit, another three foot section further up the line would bud and bloom? 

I have thus decided that Gardening is simply a series of digging holes to put plants into. Said plants can come from either the Nursery (which  apparently isn't where the baby sleeps) or from another spot in your yard. When these brightly colored flowers come from the nursery, they can cost as much as a baby, but don't cry as often. When they come from a different spot in your yard, then you dig them up, and put them into some other holes. Plus you put a bunch of stuff in with them. I still don't know the difference between Potting Soil, Potting Mixture, Compost +Potting Something Or Other, and dirt. Then you hafta put a bunch of this stuff into the other holes, so that you can put some other plants into them as well. After which, you need to go dig up more spots in your yard (apparently all this is easier than simply mowing the lawn, or so I have it on good authority) because now you need to "add some variety". I think I'll just take a picture of a Garden Gnome, and call it good. Oh, and all the pretty flowers in the pictures are from Barb's Rock Garden, which is why you don't see any Morning Glories...