Throwing in the trowel


This year, it’s going to be different. Really.

This isn’t like last year, or the year before that, or every year really since I was 10 and planted a flat of petunias in a blaze of youthful enthusiasm only to neglect them thoroughly from that point on until they withered and died. My first homicide.

No, this year I swear on a stack of Smith & Hawken catalogs that not another delphinium shall die in vain.

Zoning out. I usually dread gardening season. I clam up when surrounded by people casually tossing around show-offy landscaping lingo like “weeding” and “pruning.”

Mostly, I’m consumed with stress over what “zone” I’m in.

Nonetheless, each spring finds me back at the greenhouse, deep in fantasy about how wonderful my outdoor greenery (a.k.a. brownery) will look this year.

In my mind, I’m already past the tough part.

The backbreaking hours spent slaving in the hot sun forking compost or doing whatever it is one does with dirt to inspire actual living plants to magically appear.

No, in my mind I’m already reclining in a crisp, white Adirondack chair while friends and I enjoy iced tea garnished with sprigs of mint from my own herb garden.

Our home is a gem amongst this lush, green setting.

All is perfection. In short, I imagine myself to be Stacey. This woman can grow anything.

She knows just how far apart to plant things, which plants adore (or abhor) each other, and just how to feed, weed, and create masterpieces of the natural world in each perfectly landscaped bed.

Her entire landscape is a Better Homes and Gardens spread come to life.

You are just certain that, pre-indictment, Martha Stewart would have heartily approved.

I never sit down on Stacey’s back deck without the unsettling feeling that I’m underdressed. Perhaps a flowing, ankle length lawn dress and a giant sunhat would be more in keeping with the setting?

Meanwhile, I’m painfully aware that my own yard inspires more of a pith helmet and Deep-Woods Off sort of ambiance.

Not that the dandelions circling the base of the trampoline don’t add a lovely spot of color in an otherwise brown backyard, mind you.

Great obstacle. Clearly, a great obstacle to my gardening success is that I approach the maintenance phase – the watering, the weeding – with all the enthusiasm of one contemplating a root canal.

Stalked. But this year, things are going to be different. This year, my garden won’t resemble a horticultural crime scene.

No more crunchy leaves littering the ground beneath wilted stalks of what were optimistically rumored to be flowering plants.

No more weeds crowding out the oh-so-precious terra cotta bunnies and miniature “welcome” flags that are my only hope of color.

This year I’m throwing in the trowel. I’m just going to give up on the planting and go with something more manageable.

Who needs to be sent on a guilt trip by an azalea in its death throes?

I’m thinking along the lines of investing my formerly disposable plant fund on a nice patio set and market umbrella.

I might invest in those Adirondack chairs of my dreams, and perhaps a couple of those elegant shepherds hooks holding baskets of flowers for tasteful effect.

Fake flowers, naturally.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is steadfastly waiting for no-fault flower insurance. She welcomes comments c/o or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.