On Gardening Books

There is a certain type of gardening book that I just shouldn't read.

I'm speaking of the kind with the big glossy pictures of English cottages covered with roses, herb gardens inside little stone walls, gorgeous green lawns with crisp edges. Or the kind with perfect, jewel-like courtyards tucked up on city balconies, eclectic potted gardens on rooftops--in short, wonderful.

Why should I avoid these, you ask? Well, because they're very inspiring. They give me all kinds of ideas about what to plant and how to structure things. And then I step outside . . . and realize that I have neither a tumbling down English cottage, nor an eclectic little rooftop terrace. I have two untidy forsythia bushes, one of which seems to be dying; some scraggedy, raggedy, patchy grass; a view that looks straight into our neighbors living room; and six beautiful, bountiful tomato plants. With the exception of the tomatoes, it's a little disheartening, and looking at other people's perfect gardens only makes it more so.

And we're always saying, "Oh, we don't want to do too much--we'll be moving next year," but we're getting ready to start our third year at this house with no end in sight. Even setting that limitation aside, there's still always a fine line between the garden I'd like to have, leaving enough space for the dogs to romp, and not pissing off the lawn mowing guys by having too much for them to mow around.

But after reading pretty gardening books into the wee smalls last night, and then stewing about it all day at work, this evening I just had to do something--anything to improve my little plot. So I pulled out our little weed-eater and edged the grass. Then I started thinking about Sunflowers.

I planted some Sunflowers this year, but the mowing guys accidentally killed them before they got much past the seedling stage. I meant to replant them, but just couldn't think of a good way to protect them. By the time I thought of it again, at the first of June, it seemed like it was too late.

Today though, I was on a mission. I decided that, even if they're just hitting their growth spurt in October, I wanted Sunflowers. So I dug out a little bed close to the woodpile, outlining the edges with wood to hopefully mark it out well for the mower guys. It took almost 20 minutes to chop out a little 2x2 bed in the weedy grass. I gathered up all the Sunflower seeds I had left and evenly spaced them, thinking that way I'd definitely get more than I need and could thin later. Satisfied that I had at least made things a little better, I went to pick up some tools.

When I came back the Wee Welshman was happily sniffing out the seeds, carefully picking them up out of the dirt with his teeth, and crunching them straight down his fuzzy little throat.

There is a certain type of gardening book that I just shouldn't read.