Smug Bastard of Abundance

You were all proud of yourself when this tomato plant that you grew from seed actually produced fruit.  Hurrah!  So what if it’s only one tomato and the plant is completely disfigured!  You did it!


Man, I bet even P. Allen Smith would be proud!!!

“Great job growing that one tomato, my friend!”

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.

You and Your (Non-Gardening) Spouse

"Looking good, Honey. Don't stay up on that ladder for too long pruning or your beer will get flat."

Does your spouse share your passion for worm composting, Felco products, and beneficial nematodes?  In the winter, do you pore over seed catalogues together into the wee hours?  Spend happy weekends together pruning, weeding, and watering?  Does your spouse understand the depth of your grief when your Camellia – that rare cultivar you found at a specialty nursery, the one with the double pink flowers that were exactly like the ones on the wallpaper you had in your room when you were little – when it succumbs to verticillium wilt and dies a slow, shriveling death – does he embrace you and whisper reassurances in your ear?

No, mine doesn’t either. 

My husband Dan is a non-gardener.  He prefers an indoor lifestyle for the most part; his outdoor activities are limited to: swimming, reading in the hammock, and coming out onto the porch when I’m gardening to ask me where something is.   

Once, I asked him if he could name three plant families and he said yes, he could. 

“Flowers, bushes, and weeds” he said.

Just today, when Dan came across some pumpkin seeds our son had saved, he asked if there was a seed that could grow pumpkin pies.  “Now THAT would be some gardening I’d be interested in!”  he says.  Ha-ha.

Sometimes I am jealous of those couples who share the gardening bug.   I used to watch a bunch of the gardening shows on HGTV: P. Allen Smith, Gardening By the Yard, Landscaper’s Challenge, etc.  My favorite show was one called Gardener’s Diary.  In  each episode the hostess would visit a different garden – often a private garden created by an enthusiastic amateur, or sometimes, one tended by a couple who were both passionate gardeners. 

One image from such an episode sticks in my mind: there was a voice-over of the wife talking about how the garden has “brought Chad and I together” (I don’t remember if his name was really Chad) and then there was an image of Chad giving his wife a piggy-back ride through a beautiful meadow garden on their property – a meadow that they had undoubtedly created and nurtured together, through mutual cooperation and team spirit.

Why doesn’t Dan give me piggy-back rides through our garden

It’s a troubling thought.  I mean, why can’t we be this couple:

"We also put in each other contact lenses and we steer the car together!"

Oh well.  I have to confess, there are some advantages to being the sole gardener in the family.  Namely this:  the garden is my own little kingdom where I get to make all the decisions.  That probably sounds very control freak-ish of me, but I have to admit it’s true.  Since so much of marriage is about compromise and sacrifice, it’s nice to have a little realm to myself where my spouse doesn’t really have a clue about what is going on.

This summer Dan was walking out to the shed to retrieve a piece of pool equipment, when he noticed something.

         “How did this tree get here?”

         “Oh that?  I planted it.”


         “Hmmm…in April, I think.  Yes,  April 2007.”


         “Yup.  I think there’s some tuna in the fridge.   Why don’t you go and make yourself   some lunch?”

I watched his retreating form, and then I turned back to my work, fishtail weeder in hand.  I dropped down to my knees and started tugging at the oxalis growing between the irises.  Queen of the Kingdom.  Er, Queendom.