Women Who Love Their Gardens Too Much

  • Kristin van Ogtrop

I am beginning to think that I have an unhealthy relationship with my garden. That is, I love it obsessively; I toss and turn in bed thinking about it; I spend many minutes when I should be doing things like watching my kids play sports or helping with homework instead daydreaming about my garden. And I’m not sure my garden feels the same way about me.

Spring is my favorite season, in part because two of my three sons were born in spring, but also because my little world comes back to life around this time every year. It’s like a small suburban miracle! But with that miracle of rebirth comes the rebirth of worry. It’s sort of like a phoenix rising from the ashes of winter, except this is a Worry Phoenix that has really sharp talons and wants to eat me. Friday morning I was looking out the kitchen window at the bed where my very favorite spring flower, Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica, if I can be so pretentious), make my heart sing by coming up every year. As I looked out the window I said, mostly to myself, “I hope the bluebells are ok.”

My cruel 15-year-old immediately seized upon this statement and said, “Oh, the bluebells! THE BLUEBELLS!” in a very silly falsetto.

To which I responded, “One day you might be married to a woman who cares about her bluebells as much as I do, and I might be DEAD, and when you hear your wife worrying about the bluebells you will remember the morning you made fun of me. And you’re going to regret it.” Naturally he took this reminder extremely seriously and has only made fun of me about 35 times since.

My latest worries, as of Monday, April 14:

• I pruned the hydrangeas along the front sidewalk in December. December! It seemed like a good idea at the time. And now said hydrangeas seem a little bit dead. Never mind that hydrangeas always “seem dead” around this time of year but are in fact just tricking you by looking and feeling dead. It’s still totally worth worrying about.

• Virginia bluebells, as discussed. Just general worry that they are being killed by birds/mulch/fate.

• In fact, too much mulch around base of plants and small trees. Will it smother them?

• Star magnolia planted last spring had a lacrosse net resting against it ALL WINTER and now the branches are bent in on that side. Really, boys!? This is 100% my husband’s fault and I may never forgive him for it. Although actually two of my children—especially the 15-year-old—get part of the blame for playing lacrosse in the first place. If they were swimmers, my star magnolia would be perfect.

And finally:

• Potted pansies by front door (see photo above). They are fine for a few days, and then a band of rogue squirrels has a party in the container while I’m at work. I guess the squirrels are looking for nuts that they don’t remember not planting in the container in the fall. Anyway, they uproot half the pansies and fling the dirt everywhere. And then I come home from work and have a little tantrum as I replant the pansies and they hide behind a tree and snicker. Then they wait a few days and attack again. Don’t tell me squirrels aren’t smart.

That’s all for today. More worries will come tomorrow, but I will spare you those. If you have garden worries, please share. It will make me feel better.