The Agrarian Buying Guide – a Top Ten List!

If you’re like me, you’ve been looking to simplify your life, get back to basics, and really re-connect with the earth — but you haven’t found the kind of shopping experience that allows you to do so with classic vintage style

So frustrating. 

Well, good news.  If you weren’t familiar with Agrarian, Williams-Sonoma’s new line of fashionably overpriced garden and urban homesteading accessories, consider this your introduction!  

Thank goodness somebody is looking out for your image as you undertake your new committment to gardening, canning, chickening, and honey-making (you need bees!!!), because otherwise you might have to buy your supplies from a regular nursery or hardware store.  Ewwww.  Or even make do with something you already have around the house.  Gasp!

Anyway, here is a sampling of what Agrarian has to offer —

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So I’ve Ripped Out My Lawn, Now What Do I Do?

With all that grass, I mean.  I know you have a super-creative plan for re-planting your ex-lawn, but now you’ve got a huge sod pile to deal with.  Don’t tell me you smothered the poor grass under cardboard and plastic?  That’s a damn shame.  Had you an ounce of ingenuity, you would have re-purposed your grass in a stylish and ecologically correct manner.  Like these people did.

#1  The Ecologically Fashion Forward Couple About Town.  Don’t roll your eyes.  You know you wish you could pull this off.  If you’re a little daunted, just start small.  Maybe with the tie, shoes, and hat.  Confidence is key.  You have to own the look.

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Top Five Ludicrous Outdoor Bedrooms

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, HGTV thinks it would be super-romantic if you and your honey set up a luxurious bed out in the backyard so the two of you can giggle under the cherry blossoms and then sleep under the stars! 

Dreamy picture, eh?

But here’s what will happen if you try this at your house, with your actual partner: 

*Your mattress will acquire permanent mud-stains from being dragged through the thawing spring garden.

*As you are gazing at the robin’s egg blue sky, an actual robin will crap on your forehead.

*The sound of your next-door neighbor’s leafblower will seriously compromise the quality of your al fresco lovemaking.


Top Ten New Gardening Show Ideas

As many others have pointed out before me, there is a dearth of quality gardening programming in this country.  What a shame!  Here are some of my ideas to rectify the situation:

What Not to Plant.  Each week, a snarky pair of hosts selects a different homeowner who has no design sense whatsoever.  After forcing her to watch black and white videos of her hideous front garden, the hosts visit her home and tell her why all of her plant selections are god-awful.  Even if the homeowner protests (“But my grandmother planted those camellias!”) the merciless hosts whack each plant down one by one with a machete and toss them into a wheelbarrow.  But it’s all really funny because the hosts are super stylish and witty.

Gray’s BotanyAh, young love.  In this show, things get pretty steamy down at the County Extension Office.  Young, impossibly attractive horticulturists and plant pathologists breathlessly discuss soil test results and severe budget cuts ….does it get any sexier?

Kitchen Garden Nightmares.  The gardening world is waaaay too polite.  It’s not fair that cooking shows get bad-ass hosts like Gordon Ramsay and we get only meek, dewy-eyed creatures like P. Allen Smith (no offense!).  Kitchen Garden Nightmares would be an elimination-style reality show in which contestants compete to design, plant, and grow the most bountiful vegetable garden.  Elimination challenges would include who can make the best tomato cage out of old couch springs and who can concoct the most effective deer repellent using only bodily fluids.  But the real draw would be the ruggedly handsome but psychotically angry host, who would scream profanities at the contestants: “OH FOR F#@K’S SAKE!!  YOU DIDN’T PUT F#@KING INOCULANT ON THE F#@KING PEAS???  GET THE F#@K OUT OF HERE!”  When a contestant is eliminated the host would jab a pitchfork through a photo of his or her face.

Two and a Half Hens.  Sophisticated, twenty-something eco-couples argue over whether to use their urban chickens for eggs or meat.

Composting With the Stars.  Get an insider’s look at the kitchen scrap cans and compost heaps of the rich and famous.  Here’s a little teaser.  Gwyneth Paltrow : soybean hulls, peach pits, and organic carrot tops.  Jack Black: Frito crumbs.

So You Think You Can Cloud Prune.  D-List celebs compete to clip their hedges into whimsical shapes, as popularized by the likes of Piet Oudolf, Jacques Wirtz, and Thomas Rainer.  In the first episode Danny Bonaducci fashions a “sort of mashed potato blob” out of a yew bush.

24.  The sequel we’ve all been waiting for.  While Jack Bauer is out fighting terrorists and stuff, what is happening with his outdoor spaces all that time?  Featuring simultaneous, split-screen footage of his  lawn, shrubs, and flowerpots – all in real time.  (A slower-paced show for the older demographic.)

Curb Your Enthusiasm for Firepits.  In this show, three different landscape designers each present a design proposal to the same prospective client, who then selects his favorite.  The crazy catch: none of the designs may include a firepit.  Tune in to see if it can be done!

Pimp My Hive — Each week, an unsuspecting beekeeper is assaulted by a flash mob of designers who want to make his apiary more fabulous.

The Bulb Whisperer.  At a Montana ranch, a woman experiencing inner turmoil because her tulips won’t bloom seeks the help of a taciturn older gentleman: 

 “I hear you help people with bulb problems.”  

 “Truth is, I help bulbs with people problems.”

It’ll be really deep.

Top Ten Most Annoying Garden Buzzwords and Catchphrases of 2011

Time to reflect back on the year and make a list!  Most of these annoying phrases have been around for longer than one year, of course, but since this is my first list it’s all fair game!

“Blurring the Lines Between Indoors and Out” 

Did P. Allen Smith coin this phrase?  Because he must say it at least six times per show.  But it seems like I can’t get through any gardening magazine or show without encountering this gem at least once (or its variations — see #2 and #3).  I don’t know about you, but unless I’ve been drinking heavily, I would find it highly disturbing to discover that the boundary between the inside and outside of my home had been blurred in any way.  When I leave a room, I really need to know whether or not to bring my keys with me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m in a house designed by MC Escher.   


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You may want to forward this list to your friends and significant others, or anybody who might possibly think these would be good gift choices for you.  (Pssst, you there! Your gardening friend wants a GIFT CARD FOR HER FAVORITE NURSERY!  Not any of the terrible, embarrassing gift items shown here!)


#1. THE SNAIL-RIDING FAIRY CERAMIC KEEPSAKE.  I’ll put this in the “Gifts-From-Your-Clueless-but-Well-Meaning-Grandma” genre because she is the only possible person who would buy you this.  If you recieve this from Grandma as a gift, you can store it in the closet, but you’ll have to get it out every time she visits, because she WILL ask you where it is.  She won’t remember the names of her grandchildren but she’ll remember she gave you this horrible ceramic doo-dad.


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Blogging for Dummies tells me that readers love Top 10 Lists.  So here goes.

After doing a bit of insta-research, I discovered a list of the TOP TEN MOST DANGEROUS GARDEN TOOLS.  This information was gleaned (er, copied) from a UK website posted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. I couldn’t find a comparable list for the US, but I figure American gardeners are victims of the same kinds of gardening accidents as our friends across the pond:

 1. Lawnmowers

I guess this one’s no surprise, though I don’t really know if I’d consider a lawnmower a “gardening tool”.  Anyway, they are scary, that’s for sure.  When most of us imagine a lawnmower mishap, blood and dismemberment are the first things to come to mind, but lawnmowers can harm you in other ways, too.  Stones and debris flung toward the eyes at high velocity, engines that get hot enough to cause first degree burns, and then there’s the the noxious fumes. 

This summer my next-door neighbor nearly died of lawnmower-induced carbon monoxide poisoning.  He was mowing his grass when an afternoon rain shower sprung up, and he took refuge in his shed to wait it out – with his running lawnmower.  It only took a couple of minutes in the cramped space for him to succumb to the fumes and he passed out.  Luckily his wife found him, but he was in the hospital for five days. 

Don’t screw around with lawnmowers.

2. Flowerpots

This one had me scratching my head at first.  How can a flowerpot hurt you?  Are people in the UK doing something unusual with their flowerpots, like hurling them at their neighbors?  But then I realized, oh yeah, big containers weigh a ton, people are lifting them up and moving them around by themselves (like I was yesterday) instead of finding somebody to help them like they really should, only there’s nobody around to help and you don’t want to go ask your spouse or your kids because then you’ll have to track dirt into the house and they’ll roll their eyes and groan because you’re interrupting their TV show to go out and help move a stupid pot.  Anyway, it’s really hard on your back.  I’m sure the injuries are things like torn muscles, slipped discs, and the like.

3. Secateurs and pruners

The word secateurs just sounds dangerous.  Maybe because it’s French and reminds me of words like guillotine.  It sounds like something the Three Musketeers definitely would have carried around with them.  

4. Spades

When digging holes, don’t look up to admire a bluebird on a distant tree branch while plunging the spade down.  Especially don’t do this while wearing flip-flops. 

5. Electric hedgetrimmers

My electric hedge trimmer has a safety feature whereby letting go of the trimmer shuts the motor off.  This is a good feature for me since the trimmer is fairly heavy and my arms start to ache after about 15 minutes of using it, so there is always the danger of suddenly dropping it.  Honestly, I don’t find many situations where the electric hedge trimmer is easier to use than regular hedge-clipping shears.

6. Plant tubs and troughs

See #2 — Flowerpots

7. Shears

I actually think shears are safer than pruners since they require two hands on the handles while in use.  This reduces the chances of pruning your own thumb off, as I nearly did a couple of years ago. 

 8. Garden forks

See #4

9. Hoses and sprinklers

I don’t get this one.  Tripping on a hose is all I can think of.  Are people peering down the ends of their hoses, wondering why they’re not working, and then getting blasted in the eye with a gush of water, like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon?  I don’t own a sprinkler so I’m not familiar with the dangers they pose. I suppose barefooted children frolicking in the spray could be at risk. Frolicking children are always at risk, it seems.

10. Garden canes and sticks

Again, this was a UK study, so I’m not familiar with “garden canes” and “sticks.”  Probably they’re stakes and supports of various kinds. They sound so quaint and Beatrix Potter-ish, but in a fearsome way: “And then, Farmer McGregor picked up his garden cane and started to swing it furiously at Peter Rabbit’s head.”  Anyway, try not to skewer yourself on these while tying up your tomatoes.