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The wearin' o' the green - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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The wearin' o' the green [Mar. 2nd, 2006|11:10 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |chipperchipper]

They arrive in my mailbox, whispering sweet, seductive promises. Bigger, brighter, taller, lusher. Unique and amazing. Better than I've ever seen before.

I try to ignore these ads, but they are so tempting. The cursor wavers over the delete key, until I steel myself against their lucious promise and click.

Then it gets worse. I open the box on the side of my house, and the snail mail is stuffed with more of the same. Full color ads, promising more satisfaction this year than ever before. Lurid promises that I will be the envy of my neighbors.

Garden catalogs.

Are you disappointed that I wasn't talking about porn? Don't be. Garden catalogs are porn. They generate fantasy and promise rewards that real life will never provide.

We put our garden in the summer of 2003. But the planting impetus began in late summer of 2002, when I cleared out the narrow strip of ground that ran along our driveway. We'd moved into the house the previous August (2001) and done nothing with the space. It was a jungle of thistle, deadly nightshade and corn grass, and we had ignored it throughout the tumultuous summer of 2002 during which our lives threatened to come undone. But sometime before the beginning of my first year of law school, that eyesore of a strip got to me. I began at one end and worked my way down, sweating under a blistering sun, retreating to the shade of the house every few feet. It took an entire weekend to dig up that foot-wide, 50 foot long strip of weeds. After which we made a trip to the garden store, searching for something to plant there that could take on the thistles and come out ahead.

They recommended mint. We haven't come to regret the decision yet, but know that it is a real possibility.

Because once I'd picked out a few mint plants, I noticed some stray herbs on sale and thought, why not? We brought home rosemary, sage, and thyme in three varieties. To my never-ceasing amazement, they all thrived.

The garden bug had bitten.

The landscaping in our backyard grew out of my clumsiness. I took a bad fall and shattered my shoulder in January 2003, requiring surgical repair. The injury and recovery were extremely painful, and oftenthe only way I could handle the pain was to retreat into my secret garden, a self-trance of imagining the world I wanted to build in my backyard. That summer, we did it - or I should say the landscapers did it. I refrained from adding anything to their original plan that year, save for the wisteria on the pergola.

But I ordered garden catalogs. I signed up for online newsletters. And the summer of 2004 I spent an appalling amount of money on plants, a number of which were poor choices and required subsequent removal.

See, the problem with garden catalogs is that they arrive in the winter, when the gardener is hungry for the warmth of the sun and the scent of freshly-turned earth. The world is a grey and miserable place, but the garden catalog promises to change all that. A new variety of this plant or the other, with bigger blooms or an exotic new color! Wouldn't that be wonderful in the garden?

Only you don't think about where in the garden. If you have rolling acres, this may be fine. But if your garden is only slightly larger than a two-car garage, and already stuffed with plants, this impulse can quickly lead to it appearing less a lovely retreat and more a grandmother's attic, filled with odds and ends and leftovers.

I know this. But I am weak-willed. The promise of marvelous new plants makes my heart beat a little faster.

I am not alone in this. And the people at Burpee's and Breck's are well aware of that fact. They market to the fantasy gardner, the person longing for the tender warmth of spring. The one who forgets the long reaches of summer when the garden gets overgrown because that early enthusiasm does not hold. They are selling promises, fantasies, just as seductive - and as artificial - as the breast enhancing, love-life improving spam that also shows up in my mailbox. The only difference is, I invited the garden people to tempt me.

I have been strong this year. I have consistently thrown out the catalogs, deleted the emails. Herbs will be purchased for the kitchen garden, and maybe some bulbs to plant in the fall. But I will persevere against the siren call of the garden catalog.

But I make no promises about the trip to the greenhouse.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: kibbles
2006-03-02 04:17 pm (UTC)
ohgodwanttohaveagardensobadiamgonnacry.
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[User Picture]From: myfanwy_65
2006-03-02 04:18 pm (UTC)
Maybe we need a 12-step program for gardening. Or a Gardeners-Anonymous group. Or something.

And, thank you so much for posting that. I know now that I am not alone in my passion and addiction. LOL

I would also like to post a link to this entry in my journal, if I may, with your permission.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 04:22 pm (UTC)
You are welcome to link to me. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: also_huey
2006-03-02 04:26 pm (UTC)
Garden catalogs are porn.

I swear, I'm sending the USPS Form 1500 to Lee Valley. Those people just need to goddamn stop sending me that filth. Have they no shame?
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[User Picture]From: djeu
2006-03-02 04:31 pm (UTC)
I was disappointed you weren't talking about Ikea catalogs or flyers. My non-porn porn.
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[User Picture]From: geli_tripping
2006-03-02 04:55 pm (UTC)
Gardening catalogs are my porn too! Will spring ever get here? Sigh!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:04 pm (UTC)
I have not been that impressed with Ikea, but I have only seen the website. And I don't need furniture - it's here and does not die back over the winter.
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[User Picture]From: unamundamour
2006-03-02 05:35 pm (UTC)
*Joins you in Ikea-lust*

I'm always sure if I could just buy the right blitzenkruupermajob, my life would be organized and clutter-free!
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2006-03-02 04:58 pm (UTC)
I'm actually rather fond of the nightshade that seems to run rampant in Indiana. Considering it's the only damn thing that ends up growing in my "garden."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:05 pm (UTC)
It's definitely pretty!
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[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2006-03-02 05:08 pm (UTC)
*CRY* I know!

At least you have some space. I am intending to collapse the apartment balcony this year. I WILL make a garden. I WILL. And...and the catalogues, they call to us, preciousss. They make me ponder if "dwarf" is dwarf enough for my balcony. It inspires maddness, I tell you!

But there will be tomato plants, herbs, a strawberry pot, and some flowers.

Oh yes. There will be.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:13 pm (UTC)
You can save a remarkable amount of weight in the pots if you use styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of the pot. Don't just put them in; mix them with soil so that the water doesn't simply run through them - and roots can utilize the space between them. If you have to use biggish pots for anything (tomatoes, etc.) this will really help.
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[User Picture]From: myfanwy_65
2006-03-02 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is such a great idea. Thanks!!
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[User Picture]From: ladyhawke_wings
2006-03-02 06:53 pm (UTC)
Oooh - great idea, Zoethe - thanks!
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-03-02 05:20 pm (UTC)
We brought home rosemary, sage, and thyme in three varieties.

What, no parsley? ;-)

One thing that we've noticed about the "gardeners" and "landscapers" around us: they design and plant for the now. They don't consider what their creation will look like 3, 5, 10 years down the road.

Which is why they all look like jungles.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:23 pm (UTC)
Guilty. Much trimming is required.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-03-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
Trimming is fine. I'm thinking of my neighbors who planted a red-tipped photinia* underneath a Japanese cherry tree. Or a weeping willow tree three feet from their foundation. Some of that is the fault of the builder, but some of it is just people impulse buying.

Which isn't to say we are perfect, of course :-)

* red-tipped photinias can grow up to 15 feet tall.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, not so bright. I haven't been guilty of that, only of wisteria, which is beautiful but invasive if not kept in check.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2006-03-02 05:45 pm (UTC)
wisteria, which is beautiful but invasive if not kept in check.


You've got that right. Only invasive plant we have, which is beginning to irritate the Mrs., is leadwort (at least I think that's the name). The damn stuff grows everywhere!
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[User Picture]From: sisterwolf
2006-03-02 05:47 pm (UTC)
At least you didn't use red trumpet vine or honeysuckle...

And I was wondering abuot the parsley, too.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:50 pm (UTC)
There didn't have any. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: crwilley
2006-03-02 05:47 pm (UTC)
Umm. The mint. You did do something to keep it from escaping, right? :) I was warned that if I wanted to plant some, I should bury a Rubbermaid dish tub, and plant the mint in that area, or soon I'd have nothing but mint.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-02 05:51 pm (UTC)
Nope. The original plan was this it would escape and fill the entire space. There is much hacking.
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[User Picture]From: unamundamour
2006-03-02 06:01 pm (UTC)
Next week is the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

Need. Bib. To. Catch. Drool.
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[User Picture]From: ladyhawke_wings
2006-03-02 06:48 pm (UTC)
No, you are quite certainly *not* the only one! /sigh

I have already begun this year's journey to the dark side; pre-planting some of my vegetable seeds in indoor starter crates. All the while knowing that I'll be unable to discard the extra baby plants. Worse, I do so also knowing that I will still make those deliciously evil trips to the greenhouse, bring home even more varieties to stuff into my ever overflowing bed.

Ahhh, the pains of addiction!
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2006-03-03 02:31 pm (UTC)
Suggestions and a question --
- You might check out the floating alfalfa balls (www.gardensalive.com and/or Gale's Garden Centers) for keeping the pond more clear without chemicals. Also their corn-based weed killer is worth a look, if you want to try it out.
- Mint *is* a weed, but it's one I don't usually mind. Pulls out easily enough, and fills in the unwatched places with pretty flowers and good smells. ::shrug:: :)

The question -- where did you get that two-fer burgundy colored La-Z-Boy? That's exactly what I'm looking for! And being Cleveland-local means yes I'm asking for a specific store recommendation! (And thanks ...)

Nice garden! :) And full agreement on plant porn ... :Dana
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-03-03 03:08 pm (UTC)
It's not La-Z-Boy, it's Lane. I don't like the way La-Z-Boys are stuffed - too much cushion at the neck.

We got them 3 years ago at Levin. We were desperate for furniture, and depressed by the sheer ugliness of furniture that's out there. We fell in love with this and have been utterly happy. The sofa has a recliner at each end, and the loveseat is two independent rocker/recliners. There's even a flip-down table with cup holders in the middle of the sofa. It's great.
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