Friday, March 27, 2009


Under the soil
Just an inch or two
All the worms
Until you go digging
And you always go digging
Turning spades and thoughts in turn
To see what's under squirm

Friday, March 20, 2009

Curse Of The Hederahelix

I do not care about your hardwood floors. Nor do I care about your designer furniture, each piece of which undoubtedly cost more than my car. I do not care about anything behind those massive windows and that meticulously maintained siding. If you hire me to increase the curb appeal (if I may bandy about a buzzword) of your soon-to-hit-the-market home, I just don't care about anything other than how your yard looks and how it compliments the exterior of your home. Rest assured this is not apathy on my part; I am a gardener and it is my job to know how plants and landscapes affect people on both a conscious and subconscious level. Nowhere on my resume does it mention 20th century movements in interior design, and your expertise clearly ends at the walls of your house or else you would not have sought my help.
Therefore: get rid of the ivy.
Trust me.
If you take from me one piece of advice and ignore all else, let this be it.
I'm sure the thought of English Ivy sends all sorts of classical, white-marble allegories prancing through your head, but to many people this green, snaking, choking beast represents something else entirely. It is the raw, coiled potential to destroy a yard. Slayer of trees, devourer of beds, no matter how well and often you trim it back, some potential home buyers will see that ivy for what it is: doom (I don't know if there's a buzzword for this in relation to "curb appeal", we'll just say "curb terror" and it's probably something you want to avoid). Even its Latin name, Hedera helix, seems more mythical serpent monster than plant.


You know... come to think of it, keep the ivy if you want, I have a plan that's bigger than you or your house. I believe through the widespread dissemination of English Ivy's Latin name, spoken in hushed, fearful tones we could start to create the sort of urban legend fear we need to discourage the use and tolerance of ivy. For example, picture two huddled strangers on the sidewalk:
"It can't be true!"
"It is true! My sister heard from her mailman, and he knows the whole neighborhood. He's seen the Hederahelix in at least 2 yards on our street alone!"
"Oh God What do we do!? I heard of a town in Oregon that saw signs of the Hederahelix and 3 months later... the town was gone! No one could find it and no one heard from any of its citizens again! What do we do!?"
"Try to calm down. I want you to run to the hardware store and buy the biggest pair of pruning shears you can find. Do you know how to make napalm?"
"OK, that's OK. I know you're lethal with a pair of shears, they'll have to do. Once you have those, run home and be with your children, they need you."
"But then what do we do?!"
"Then...we pray."

That's it, this will work. Curb appeal be damned, I have an urban legend to create.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What I Tell Myself

What do you tell yourself?
During the morning commute
And the long ride home
And the interim
To make the whiled hours seem worthwhile

From what perspective
Do you watch your hands
Watch your lips move
From whose approving eyes
Do you see your own work

Outside a mortgage bank
I deadhead pansies
and sweep the sidewalk
Inside I water the plants
and try not to be seen

Maybe when folks see
(in these difficult times)
a bank with clean walks
and cheerful flowers
They think that...
Things will be OK

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Smokin' Hot Bags

Thank you all for being here today. After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to announce that I am now accepting bids to endorse hand-warmer products...
Now please, quiet please...
I'll wait...
Thank you.
To your cries of "SELL OUT!" I can only say this: I use hand-warmers almost every day in the Winter anyway. I can only imagine how many hundreds or thousands (millions?) of people see me, shivering in the garden, pausing every five minutes to put down my pruners, gingerly remove my inadequate gloves and stuff my hands into my pockets, seeking the tiny, warm sandbaggish things waiting there for me. An over-shod gardener with poor circulation and no apparent regard for physical appearances consistently using a product for all to see? You can't dream up that kind of marketing opportunity. Now, I know what you're all thinking (mostly because some of you seem to be shouting it at me): he's a gardener; he must be loaded; what use could he possibly have for more money?
Well, put simply, I have a lifestyle to maintain, and I'll not apologize for my excesses. If eating more than one meal a day makes me a glutton, so be it. If having a 21" TV and a VCR makes me a shameless gadget-head, so be it. If wearing a completely different pair of socks every day of the week makes me a fashion slave, so be it. If carrying my garden tools around in the back of my Civic hatchback seems like a waste of a beautiful luxury automobile, so be it. I've earned this life, and your jealousy doesn't make it wrong.
Excellent question, thank you.
No, I will not be endorsing any hand-warmer product currently available on the market. I will be holding out for a custom line of hand-warmers specially-tailored to my needs.
How will they differ from currently available hand-warmers? Well, ultimately that will be up to the R+D department of the company placing the highest bid for my endorsement, but I do have a few ideas of my own. For example, commercial hand-warmers all seem to have a common and irritating design quirk: they do not work. I would like very much to endorse a hand-warmer product that actually works. A good way to achieve this goal, that I can see, is to create some kind of hand-warmer that gets warm and then makes your hand warm upon contact. It should be able to do this even when it is cold outside, because I have been known to use hand-warmers when air temperatures drop below my core body temperature. Beyond that, it's just cosmetics. I guess glow-in-the dark would be pretty cool.
Oh, I'll leave the naming to marketing, I'm not picky. Maybe something like "Smokin' Hot Bags" or "Pleasantly Warm Pouches" or "Hands Here For Heat" or, I don't know "Touch Me, Sexy" (I've been told that sex sells). Yeah, any of those would be just great.

Thank you all, I hope this will not change our relationship or how I am seen in the public eye.

I would like bidding to start at $80,000 per public use of hand-warmer product. For $100,000 I will turn towards my audience and utter a trademarked and memorable catch phrase.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

11 Pages

11 pages... intricately formatted, photographed, broken down and compiled... the pruning of modern bush roses in a rather tedious nutshell. The book itself shall remain unnamed, suffice it to say it is a much-read and highly regarded pruning guide published under the authority of the... oh, we'll call it the Shmamerican Shmorticultural Shmoshmiety. After these 11 pages is a small box with a photo depicting a disembodied pair of arms holding a hedge trimmer that has just blithely chopped through a rose bush at knee height. The gist of the accompanying text: feel free to disregard the preceding 11-page rose-pruning treatise. Instead, why not just whack the things down at about, oh, here, and be done with it. Apparently recent research has indicated that this crude (and probably satisfying) treatment may produce a healthier, better-blooming plant than all the conjured intricacy and lore of rose-husbandry through the ages.
I, for one, find this hilarious, and would like nothing better than to swing a machete through some hybrid teas to demonstrate the progress of modern horticulture. But I cannot. No, I must memorize the 11 pages that don't involve rosewhacking, like homework after years of freedom, and regurgitate them the next day in an earnest bid to convince a new client that I know roses like the back of my hand and love them like the air in my lungs.
In truth, I know roses like the inside of my lungs and love them like air in a hose.
Don't get me wrong, I'm always down for a good stop-and-smell-the-roses, I just have no desire to play patient nanny to a prima donna brat of a plant like the modern rose. Any organism that requires constant aseptic attention to avoid disfiguring disease and infestation could only be the work of centuries of human meddling... akin to certain dog breeds that cannot even be birthed without human intervention. Give me Rosa nutkana or R. rugosa any day, with cheerful hips and heavenly fragrant, simple, pretty flowers whose reproductive structures have not been sacrificed in some horticulturalist's orgy of endless petals, petals and more petals.
Now, I realize that I may have just offended or alienated quite a few rose lovers (not to mention dog lovers) out there. To you I issue a challenge: prove me wrong. Show me that modern roses pull their own weight in the garden; tell me how to look past their horrible shape and thorny demeanor; tell me why I should spend another minute picking off black spot riddled leaves; tell me why I should put up with a patented, trademarked problem child when its native cousin is growing carefree along the side of the road.
Do not let this bitterness and sarcasm fool you, I genuinely wish to be convinced otherwise. One of the things I love about gardening is how often I am proven wrong and end up eating my own words; I love rediscovering plants that I had written off long ago. Gardening passions are contagious, and sometimes just hearing someone get excited about a plant, even when it is not a favorite of mine, is enough to make me re-evaluate my prejudice. So rose lovers, get excited, defend your precious pretties; tame my tongue and sheath my machete, I am an easy convert.