Sunday, March 18, 2007


When we lived in Los Angeles, we were apartment dwellers. The extent of our gardening was throwing a geranium in a pot and putting it out on the never-used patio. If we noticed it was seriously drooping, its little arms stretched out, pleading for water, we would water it. But that was all we did. No food. No barbequed spareribs. No creme brulee. No fertilizer. No TLC. She was an independent, self-sufficient geranium. Without any assist from us, she was a survivor.

When we were looking for a rental in Philomath, OR, we stumbled upon a delightful brand-new duplex. It was clean and fresh and sparkly. There was a room that was shaped exactly like a funnel. It served no discernible purpose other than as a conversation starter. The Saint and I were both taken with that room and just HAD to live here.

The Earnest Young Landlord said in the interest of full-disclosure, there was something he had to show us. He dramatically opened the blinds onto the patio. And there it was. A backyard. A big backyard. A big backyard that was entirely mud and weeds. Now, to be completely honest, some folk wouldn't consider it huge, but if your frame of reference is one potted geranium, to us it seemed like Tara. The Earnest Young Landlord was apologetic. He wasn't a gardener either. He just wanted us to be aware of it.

And so we thought, well, gee, how difficult would it be to plant a garden of some sort? The backyard sloped at odd angles so a lawn seemed out of the question. The Saint didn't relish the idea of vertical mowing. We started hanging out at nurseries, eavesdropping, asking endless questions. It turns out that plants are a very diverse lot with very strong likes and dislikes. Some plants preferred morning sun, some preferred afternoon sun, some would rather be in Aruba. One liked to be moist all the time; one liked to dry out completely between waterings and another one fancied a tanning salon . This one liked bone meal, the other one thought there was nothing finer than a grilled cheese sandwich. And then they all had different lifespans. This one would die at first frost, one would be resurrected after the last frost, and yet another would go to Palm Springs for the winter.

Okay, too many choices. Too much information. We bought daffodil bulbs. Lots and lots of them. The Saint followed directions slavishly. He planted them mid-November, placed them four inches beneath the ground, fertilized them.

And then we waited. While daffodils were blooming all over town standing up tall and straight, saluting and celebrating the beautiful new season, ours bloomed and...well, drooped. We'd stare at them for hours, offering them words of encouragement, playing soothing music. We coaxed, cajoled, juggled, did cartwheels. Nothing. Just droop, droop, droop.

I believe the only viable solution is to close the blinds and forget the concept of a garden. Maybe the daffodils will do better if left to their own devices. Maybe they need privacy. Maybe they're depressed. And just maybe we should take up another hobby.


OldBagNewTricks said...

This is hysterical!!!! And fear not -- don't give up on gardening over the poor opinion of lowly daffodils -- they can be a snotty lot. If it happens that day lilies refuse to bloom, then you might rethink.... Funny, funny piece! Thanks.


Francie M. said...

Grilled cheese and Aruba for me please!
Those daffys are a bit shy I think....

Vallen said...

The interesting thing about daffodils is that they multiply unless you separate them, sort of like the teenagers here at the high school. I suspect that closing the blinds and pretending you don't know what's going on out there is just the way to have yourselves a whole hilly yard of daffs.

Oblique Angles said...

Oh, Vallen, if I understand this correctly, then if I do absolutely nothing with these depressed daffodils, they'll multiply and cover my hilly yard with cheerful, happy daffodils. It'll give me something to look forward to all year! Thanks for your optimistic comment!

Vallen said...

Yep, just like the poem by whatshisname