The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Accent photo

Cautious garden banter

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator
slmason@illinois.edu

With world event worries and cold weather concerns even my dog is getting squirrely. Not "The Shining" kind of squirrely, but giggling uncontrollably kind of squirrely. I get giddy when I discover a new garden catalog in the mailbox or I realize the road is clear for a hike at Allerton Park.

If squirreliness is running rampant at your home, you may want to be particularly cautious on what you say to the gardener in your family. Each year we gardeners must survive and hopefully thrive through pestilence, drought, flood, wind, and winter woes. We do it because gardening is so much more than just a pretty plant or a tasty veggie. However, for survivors 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 of denigration may not be obvious to the orator. So if you have a loved one that is a gardener and you want to stay together, 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?"
"I think 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 that lone peach was going to fall off the tree, 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 flower-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 pruned the roses again."
"Zucchini for dinner?... Again?"

Join me for my discussion about "Caring for Holiday Plants" such as Christmas cactus, rosemary and amaryllis on Wednesday December 7, 2016 at 6:00 PM at Danville Public Library; 319 North Vermilion; Danville, IL. To register 217-442-8615 http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/

Apply today to join our Master Gardener family with plenty of opportunities to hang out with a bunch of people that "get you". Check out our website for more information and to apply http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/
Questions? Our great horticulture team is here to help. In our Champaign office - Ava Heap carmien2@illinois.edu (217-333-7672); in Danville - Jenney Hanrahan jhanraha@illinois.edu (217-442-8615) or Onarga office - Trent Hawker tkhawke2@illinois.edu (815-268-4051).

View Article Archive >>