The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

For the Love of a Gardener

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

Plant lists can read like a dime store novel: love-in-a-mist, love-in-a-puff, love-lies-bleeding, lovage and even love grass. The garden is one big love fest. If you spend even a miniscule amount of time in the garden you know it's not always party time. Each year we gardeners must survive and hopefully thrive through pestilence, drought, flood, wind, and woes. We do it because gardening is so much more than just a pretty plant or a tasty veggie. For survivors, however, we have surprisingly delicate garden egos.

Relationship books extol the virtues of sharing words of praise with your loved ones such as "You look particularly nice today" or "I love the way the light reflects off your bald spot." If your loved one is a gardener, I offer a few other phrases: "That new flower bed is such a welcome retreat" or maybe something as simple as "I love having fresh lettuce from the garden." A simple phrase of praise goes a long way with a gardener. However words of disparagement have sharp points and the daggers may not be obvious to the sayer. So if you have a loved one that is a gardener and you want to stay together to enjoy another Valentines' Day, here is what not to say to your plant-lovin', garden-lovin' lover:

  • "I think your garden was prettier last year."
  • "Don't you have enough plants?"
  • "Your friend Martha's tomatoes taste better."
  • "Is it normal for the potatoes to have a cellulite problem?"
  • "It looks like the carrots went on an acid trip."
  • "I think you need to get a new hen to lay your eggplants."
  • "Are you sure these are the same green beans my dad grew?"
  • "Didn't the last plant in that spot die?"
  • "I could have sworn you told me those were weeds."
  • "I used your pruners to cut PVC pipe. I hope that's ok."
  • "Isn't it cheaper to buy tomatoes at the grocery store? "
  • "What's the big deal? It's just dirt!"
  • "Are the strawberries supposed to be that little?"
  • "Did it look like that in the catalog?"
  • "Why do you need 6 kinds of tomatoes? They all taste the same."
  • "Good news honey. The dog just dug you a new flower bed."
  • "Surprise, I cleaned the garden for you. Here are all your plant labels."
  • "I was afraid the lone peach was going to fall off, so I ate it."
  • "Hey honey I might have mixed up the sprayer for insecticide with the sprayer for herbicide. That won't hurt the roses. Will it?"
  • "You might notice the rhododendrons are just a bit shorter than they used to be… You know it wasn't really my fault: the lawn mower is possessed by a plant-hating demon."
  • "That's a flower? It looks like a weed."
  • "I think concrete comes in shades of green."
  • "Good news honey. The rabbits have taken care of all your rose pruning chores."
  • "Zucchini for dinner?... Again?"

This Valentine's Day hug your gardener, smile when they talk about this year's garden and always let them read the garden catalogs first. And remember, "I garden, therefore I am."

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