Home is Where Your Madness Blooms

on the line

Last summer, hanging a week’s worth of gardening garb out to dry, I noticed that some of the T-shirts were more faded on the back than in the front. Chuckling to my self, I thought, “You know you’re a gardener when this happens.” Quicker than the proverbial wink, the question followed: When did I actually know I was a gardener? Did it really begin when grade-school-me planted carrots in the sandbox outside the kitchen door?

Those questions sprouted into something tasty, like one of those beds of multi-colored lettuces. When does a person become a gardener? Are we born this way? Does some latent gene kick in when we’re exposed to grandparents bending over a zinnia or row of beans? Or is it environmental? Is there a virus that enters through the eye, under the fingernails, or in the perfume of a peony? How do you know you’re a gardener? What are the signs? Is it madness?

I’d been listening to my own true confessions on this obsession when I encountered a blog called PJGirl. There, I learned you just might know you’re a gardener if, after an hour of gardening first thing in the morning, you realize you’re outdoors in your pajamas. Madness delighfully confirmed.

Here we are. It’s February, and all the gardeners we know (in the northern hemisphere, that is) are swooning over seed catalogs or readying shelves and window sills for those little starter pots. We’re reading books, cleaning and sharpening our tools, sorting thorugh last year’s notes and photos. We’re pining for the smell of mud and can’t wait to come into the house with wet trouser knees. Is this how we know we’re gardeners?

Well, I’d like to find out.

Gardenhood turns two this week, and I turn 60, and the questions just won’t stop.

Today’s questions: Would you like to help me celebrate? Would you be willing to share your true confession? How do YOU know that you’re a gardener? And if you say you’re not, how are you so sure? (Hint, killing plants might actually mean you are). You’ll notice there are no qualifiers here. I didn’t ask you if you’re a real gardener, a talented gardener, or even a successful one.

Let me prime the pump with a few confessions of my own.

You know you’re a gardener when watching a movie — even a thriller or a stunning romance — you’re naming all the plants. Worse yet, you pause the DVD to get a positive ID.

You know you’re a gardener, when you get what it means to have a “gardener’s gap”. Moreover, you have a swath of tan there.

You know you’re a gardener, when you miss weddings, meals with friends, and your monthly book-group meeting because it’s May.

True confessions can be posted in the comment section, or if you’d rather, send an email to gardenhood88@gmail.com.

Thank you for two great years. May your madness bloom with joy.

28 thoughts on “Home is Where Your Madness Blooms

  1. I know exactly when the virus entered. I was 7 or 8 years old, my stepmom was going through the pinto beans for dinner one afternoon and I asked her if I planted some would they grow. She let me try it out and they did! What magic powers I discovered!

    What a beautiful post, Cheryl! (Hmmm…may I re-publishon Flora’s Forum?)

    BTW, if any of you would like to see fabulous Cheryl’s writing in Greenwoman Magazine, I’m offering a free PDF download of Issue #3 at my website (http://www.greenwomanmagazine.com).

    Happy Birthday Cheryl and I will see you tomorrow!

  2. I was laughing so hard as I read this shaking my head….I think I may have to do a post and link in with this one….I think it has to be in the genes first…and then it is nurtured. I actually stop the movie Bambi to identify the wildflowers in the woods and name them…..perfect post for this time of year.

  3. Good post! One of my brothers and I are both gardening fanatics. For some reason neither of our two other siblings were bit by the bug. I think my brother and I first got drawn in by our dad. He had grown up in Brooklyn without benefit of a yard of any kind. However, when he bought a house in the suburbs, he was very pleased to putter around with roses and annuals and small flowering trees. Where he got it from is a mystery. His parents, who grew up in small villages in Russia, had no interest at all in things of the soil – bad associations from early life, I suspect. Yet, dad must have gotten it from somewhere or someone. Wish I had asked him when I had a chance.

    • The Irish have a saying: What’s bred in the bone will not out. So glad something of the pursuit of beauty and bounty survived in your dad and came on down to you, Jason. There are so many questions I would love to ask of those who’ve gone before.

  4. My true confession: I’m a lapsed gardener. I was brought up in the Church of the Backyard Plot, which was lovingly tended by my uber-gardener father, Buddy. I spent many a happy hour out there in the Texas sun with him, listening to the sermons of aspirational corn and the choir of plump tomatoes, stubbly okra, and missionary bees. But somewhere during the journey into adulthood, I strayed away from the garden, and I’ve never truly found my way back. I sometimes attempt to re-introduce myself to the chlorophylled deacons, but I haven’t really been able to earnestly put my knees to garden soil for years. There. My secret is out.

  5. The gardening bug is addictive and prone to making those affected a little mad… but also healthier, happier and more generous! I’m fascinated that inside every seed is magic. All I have to do is plant it in the right place, make sure it is protected and watered and very soon I have a beautiful garden. Thanks for the mention Cheryl x

  6. Cheryl, Just wanted to wish you happy birthday in this auspicious year of 2013. Being in our 60’s is a fabulous decade! Much love, Deb

    Sent from my iPad

  7. Only ONE hour of gardening in pajamas? Pffff!

    You know you’re a gardener when…

    –On a whim, you grab a pry bar and rip out a 2′ x 8′ section of the deck because you’re running out of sunny areas to garden.

    –You have no hesitation about risking concussion dashing through the heaviest hail storm you have ever seen to cover the tomatoes.


  8. Love this post! Mine came from my grandmother who kept us. She did not have a television, so we played outside and in the garden. She let us grow beans around an old tree stump that looked so cool when it was covered in beans. I took a hiatus when my boys were so busy with school and activities, but as they began to have a life without mom, my gardening desire became intense. Not only did she teach me the miracle of growing food from a tiny seed, she gave me memories I will never forget. Brenda
    p.s. Happy Birthday!

  9. Pingback: Gardens Eye View » Blog Archive » Gardens Eye Journal-February 2013

    • True confession, Nancy. I don’t have a way to start seeds indoors, and with very few exceptions, there aren’t many things I can reliably start from direct sowing in the garden. One of the few exceptions to direct sowing is beans, and the ones I plant are locally sourced from Hobbs Family Farm in Avondale, CO. I have a propensity to favor heirlooms. In the midwest, there is Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company among others. Hope this helps.

  10. You know you’re a gardener when people emerge from your guest bathroom pale at the sight of all the instruments of…torture? lined up by the sink to dry — the pruning saw, the houri houri knife, the dibbler, the hand fork, the loppers… You had forgotten that other people do not decorate their bathrooms this way.

    Found your blog through Donna @ Garden’s Eye View and am enjoying it. Happy birthday!

    • I can just see the display. How funny! Thank you for stopping by and for the birthday wishes. Lovely to hear from a fellow admirer of Donna’s fine blog and an I-25 corridor, arid climate gardener to boot.

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