September 2009

My Gardener

My gardener happens to be my husband. He disappears into the landscape, in the middle of conversations, tracks gravel across my newly vacuumed living room carpet, and dusts bits of leaves off his clothes onto our dining room table when sitting down to supper. At the end of the month our credit card bill lists seed, clay pots, clippers, soil mix, sprinklers, and I am still trying to finish the conversation I started three weeks ago about the pipe that is leaking in the bathroom. For better or for worse, I am married to my gardener.

My introduction to horticulture began in Santa Cruz thirty-four years ago. As a new bride I learned from my husband how to care for an established Boston fern, a large dumb cane, a delicate maidenhair fern, and a flourishing spider plant. He quickly taught me the routine. At the time I knew very little about plants, only what I had learned from my mother, who salvaged withered stems and seedlings. She would place them in canning jars filled with...


While perusing the pages of several fall nursery catalogues, I saw pictured whimsical scarecrows, equipped with names, costumes, and patchwork faces that brighten the already lively displays of flowers. They are fashioned after farmers, rag dolls and the straw man in The Wizard of Oz. Seeing them reminds me of the stick figures that have watched over my own vegetable garden in years past.

The addition of a scarecrow brings a mischievous touch to any garden. They come in all shapes, sizes and styles, from homemade to store bought, with smiles that bring to one’s mind railroad tracks, needlepoint stitches, orthodontic braces, and tic-tac-toe. Those watching over my vegetables have had noses made of buttons, and black triangle eyes...