August 17, 2006


Is there anyone as hopelessly optimistic as a gardener? This question coming from Mrs. Skeptical, Logical, Plan-For-The-Worst? But, that's the human, female part of me. It's the non-gender-related gardening side of me holds more positive wishes for the future.

Why then would I lament and scorn the heat and humidity of summer each morning as I lug around the hose; shake my fist at the ever-voracious, nibbling voles who suck down plants overnight leaving only a gaping hole where once stood that plant and yet just as that hungry vole, I'll eagerly devour the first garden catalog which has already found its way into my mailbox. The bulb catalogs. Bulbs to be planted in the fall for late winter, spring and summer bloom.

You see, this way I reap the benefits of both my logical self my gardening self. (As any gardener knows, Gardening" and "Logic" are oxymorons when used in the same sentence. One doesn't garden because it's logical. It's fraught with illogic and contradictions. Nor does logic ever propel a person into gardening. After all, only Mad Dogs and Englishmen ...and gardeners go out in the midday sun to water a pot of parched petunias at the end of the driveway.)

My logical self tells me if I plan my bulb display now and place my orders early, I'll get what I want and achieve (with the squirrels', rabbits' and deer's cooperation) the look I want. My gardening self tells me...if I plan my bulb display now and place my orders, I'm apparently casting my hopes into that little wishing well of mine in my shade garden or that "Big" wishing well in the deepest recesses of my brain, that I'll be around next spring and summer to see that display.

"Wishing and hoping and planning...." Lyrics from an old Dusty Springfield song and music to a gardener's ears.

August 05, 2006


...and I don't mean the creme-filled chocolate cake we used to stuff in our lunchboxes as kids.

I was going to enter a picture here, but how do you photograph heat? Other than displaying pathetic images of crinkled leaves and withering, drooping plants that are now just hanging on, waiting...waiting for some blessed relief from this relentless heat.

But, the weeds...the weeds are thriving. Usually about this time of the season, I'm lamenting bare spots left by spent perennials or pooped-out annuals. But...strangely...this year there's very little spots that are without some greenery. Theose patches of green, however, aren't the welcomed, late-season volunteer salvias or rejeuvenated pansies. Nope. Weeds. Lush, flowing, healthy, stoicly rooted and nearly impossible to pull from even the most parched soil.

Weeds are normally insideously loathesome. The way they seem to grow almost from the same point in the ground where sprouts a beautiful celosia, or clump of phlox or a verbena. They hide amongst them. Use them as shields to protect them from the watchful (most times) eye of this gardener. Their little weed brains hoping that perhaps I'll overlook them, pass them by as they crouch behind a stalk...a stem of a prized perennial or flowering annual.

But when weather conditions are so torturous and relentless upon my cultivated garden as they've been these past few weeks with this intolerable, unceasing heat, the weeds assume a different personna. (Everything in my garden has a personna. What can I say? I have this penchant for anthropomorphosizing just about anything. Including, obviously...weeds.)

This opressive weather emboldens them. Gives them courage to come out from behind that leaf or stem of coreopsis. They brazenly reach and stretch; waiving their flowering seed heads over my poor withering beauties. Flowering seed heads just waiting for the next rain, a sprinkle of the hose or tiny cloud burst to spew their prodgeny over my garden bed and set the stage for their next generation's plague upon my little patch.

I think, sometimes, as I wander the paths, bending, stretching, pushing aside nearly bare stalks of hyssop and mildewed phlox, I think I can hear laughter. Mocking. Giggling amongst the weeds. Like I said: anthropomophosizing means I not only characterize them...I can hear them as well.

"Here, here...We're over here! See us? Waiving at you? You can try and pull us, but we've been hiding and growing and sucking the life and whatever moisture there is out of the soil and starving your..your little beauties...for so many weeks now, we can't be moved. You can pull on a leaf, even dislodge a root hair or two. But we're stronger now. We'll win this time. Put away that hoe. Pocket that weeding fork. Wipe the sweat from your eyes and give the garden over to us this time. For now anyway. Till us under or hack us out come fall and toss us in the compost pile. But for now, we rule the beds. The garden is ours!"

As my glasses smear with sweat dripping from my hair stuffed into the wide-brimmed hat which shades my face but does little else to afford comfort, I sigh. Put away my pruners. Swat yet another mosquito from my leg and give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's. If Ceasar was a weed that is.

Before closing the door behind me and feeling that first gush of life-saving air conditioning from within the house, I can hear them again. Snickering. Cheering.

"Go ahead, laugh and smirk all you want. Your Ides of March are coming and that should be sometime around Labor Day. Beware. Beware. Bwaahaahaaa!",I remind them. Then like any good Roman citizen...I head for the baths.

Now where'd I put my toga?