Monday, August 11, 2008

On gardening (I hate it)

You might say I have a love/hate relationship with gardening. But you would be wrong. There is no love for gardening residing anywhere inside of me. Sure I can enjoy seeing a pretty garden, but it is the same way I admire a weight lifter; sure it looks nice, but I have no desire to do what it takes to get there. None, what-so-ever.

My feelings toward gardening are deeply, deeply engrained. My parent’s idea of “landscaping” was to mow over any garden areas until they were just grass. And by grass I mean weeds that vaguely resemble a lawn. They have now moved to Texas where people are encouraged to have “dry landscapes”.

(A short story to illustrate my point) When we were first married, my husband, having spent many of his developing years with a large garden and canning expert mother, was determined to help out my gardening deprived family. He actually planted a garden in the dirt spot my parents had set apart as a “garden area”. As we came to visit often, he realized he was also in charge of weeding and caring for said garden. The next year, my parents planted a huge shed that completely covered the garden area and my husband took the hint.

I suppose it is needless to say (but I still will), Peter has always been in charge of our landscape and garden. I don’t think I have ever used our lawn mower. Like I said, no desire. Not even a spark of interest. This leads us to our present situation.

We leased our house from a former gardener. The yard is full of little (and sometimes big) gardening areas. If you don’t believe me, look here- there are pictures of the yard scattered in the other house photos. And it has been a few years since the owners have been up to the task of keeping up with said garden. Translation: there is a lot of work to be done in the yard. This move correlated with Peter working CRAZY hours. Translation: unless he stops requiring even a little sleep, there is no time for him to garden.

At first this didn’t bother me. Like I said, I don’t care. But the weeds were beginning to interfere with my view of the ocean. We’re talking taller than my youngest children (and in some cases my older children, too). For several weeks I tried living in denial. When Peter has some free time, he’ll get to it. I wouldn’t want to take away his joy in gardening, right? But, alas, I have now realized that Peter has less “free time” than even I. And when he does, he is more interested in exciting things like paying the bills or that sleep thing I mentioned. So if I don’t want the kids swallowed in a jungle of milk weeds, I was going to have to tackle the landscaping on my own.

(Another illustrative short story) In our first house, in a moment of insanity, I decided to weed out this tiny patch beside our backdoor. When I was finished my horrified neighbor came over to tell me I had just pulled out all the strawberry plants. I have no way of discerning plants from weeds. Never-the-less, I have decided to try my hand again. I pull anything too tall, thorny, or grassy looking. If it comes out too easily, I assume I have pulled a “real” flower and try to avoid pulling more plants that look the same.

And I still hate gardening: I hate sweating (which explains my related issue with exercising), I hate getting dirty, and I hate kneeling and pulling and hurting my back. But I like my view and I dislike prickly thorns and most days I don’t want my kids swallowed in a jungle. So I have been going out to garden every day. Maybe when Peter sees my “progress”, he will decide to find some free time SOMEWHERE and take over the duties. Otherwise, I am going to start seeing if I can feasibly grow mowable grass in raised planter boxes.

PS- When I was looking at the pictures of the house, I saw that the weeds and flowers had yet to appear in the yard. Here is an example of what it looks like now (I already pulled a lot of the really tall plants- if you look close you can see a pile of milk weed plants waiting to be put into a bag- but you'll get the idea)


  1. Lets be fair to the parents. Both mother and father are very allergic to things that grow. It wasn't worth the hives and rashes to grow a garden of any size. We did keep the lawn mowed and most of the weeds pulled. Dry scaping is very nice and saves on water.

  2. Now I feel bad. I have thought several times that I should weed instead of sit like a bump on your lawn. Two things have stopped me.
    1 - Why would I weed your garden when I don't weed mine?
    2 - I don't want to overstep my place and garden when you don't want me to.

    Since #2 is apparently not a problem, I'll give myself an easy answer to #1 - because I spend my outdoor time in YOUR yard, not mine. Prepare to watch me get dirty and sweaty.

    ...just put a wig on that baby so I can continue living in denial on that topic.

  3. You keep 6 children alive, fed, bathed, cleaned, educated, and happy. You probably even scrub toilets. Just hire someone. It's not that expensive, and you will have peace with your garden, even if it's just to say, "thank goodness that's not my responsibility".

  4. #1 - I am from AZ and feel the exact same way you do and have a hubby that loves it like yours. So I am grateful my hubby isn't as busy as yours and takes care of our garden (and yard).

    #2 - I am not sure what your lease says about the landscaping but if you want we do have a weed wacker and rototiller if you want to rip everything out and make them grass. Just let us know.

  5. Well here is the point where you and I are definitely not kindred spirits. I love gardening--and I didn't know I loved it so much until I had my own yard to do it in. The planters in your yard are great! I could do so much with them! You could clear everything out and plant ornamental grasses in them. That way you could choose grass that only grows as high as you want it (6" to 3 or 4 ft.) and never needs to be mowed, and rarely needs water. Plus, it looks and sounds so pretty in the wind. I have some little plants that I think are called sea grass. It's a mound of grass with tallish, Dr. Seusish, pink flowers popping out. It will grow in many soils, including sand. Or you could divide up the planters and let your kids grow whatever they want. I'm going to try that experiment next year and encourage my children to try out capitalism and grow things to sell. It's my substitute for a pet. If the plants die, at least we don't have to flush them or bury them. ;o)

  6. I am the exact same as you, on the gardening and on the exercising. For a little different reasons though. I am to lazy to exercise, and I just don't have a talented eye for landscaping. I am all for all grass lawns.
    PS your house is so pretty and so big. I Love it!

  7. Mom- I was just stating a well known fact :)

    Channing- you come to my house to enjoy the water (and company), you don't need to do our work for us

    Claudia- I am such a cheapskate, it never occured to me to hire someone. I am going to consider it

    Heidi- If we owned the house that is exactly what I would need, but I don't think the former gardener would appreciate it (she was a botanist and didn't like people pulling the more rare weeds that she liked- and knew all the names for)

    Mary- the last time I saw your house you were just starting to work with the yard (I remember the call for desperate landscape votes), I wish I could see it now!

  8. I have this image in my head of me having a perfectly landscaped and cared for yard with a large, weedless and fruitful garden. I imagine I look forward to spring each year so I can go out and get dirt all over myself as I spend hours tediously caring for each beautiful plant.

    But the reality is I will probably feel exactly like you, having a billion things higher on the priority list. Our yard will most likely be be hastily thrown-on seed two days before we'd get kicked out of the neighborhood for having no landscaping. The grass will then grow to astronomical lengths until finally I give up and mow it (once a year). Yep, that sounds about right.

  9. I am jealous. I'd love a garden. I'd love veggies and fruits and flowers...alas the animals eat EVERYTHING I try to grow. Darn those little bunnies!

  10. I HATE pulling weeds. I have to wear gloves, not because of thorns but to me touching a weed, or the roots of any plant is the same as touching a bug or dead animal....eewww! We have had some success with our "garden" though. We have grown several rocks, a wagon, and a crazy obsessive neighbor.

  11. I like everything about gardening but the weeding. I'll leave that to jessica, since she doesn't mind it. When we get a house we are going ot have a nice food garden

  12. First of all, wow! What a beautiful yard. Weeds or not.
    I never did any gardening until we bought this house a year ago. Remembering to weed and garden and other important things like that has been a challenge and half of what I planted died.
    I am glad you stopped by my blog. I came to your blog before and added you to my Goodreads but then could not remember where I'd found your blog.