Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear Dr. Hortfreud

My parents have a sickness. They like to visit gardens when they go places. Then they come home filled with all kinds of wild eyed notions about having a civilized garden of their own. The past two years they have had season passes to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I dread when they go there.

Every time they come back from there they start a new garden. This one will be civilized they say. Instead of completely civilizing any part of the over two acres of garden they already have, they make another one from scratch.

I may have casually mentioned it would be nice to landscape around the old chimney and the next thing you know my 82 old mother whips out the Roundup and my 81 year old father with a new knee put in in April breaks out the chainsaw. As you might imagine an endeavour of this sort requires assistance from the assistant gardener.

Dr. Hortfreud I have concerns.

Even with a new assistant gardener on staff, these new civilized gardens to be always end up looking like exuberant chaos in the end. Reckless seed flinging and regular naps don't allow for an adequate amount of editing. Only now is the concept of mulching being put into practice and I am afraid it is really too late for that to even help much.

They have a sickness. Plenty isn't enough when it comes to plants or flowers. They always need more. And each new garden is going to be the civilized one.

Just last month this low hill behind the vegetable garden was covered with hundreds of blooming daylilies. It was filled with all kinds of wildflowers too because you can't weed them out until they are done blooming. That wasn't enough.

The far end of the low hill was full of Lorelei iris that have grown out of favor because they are so prolific. They were all dug out to make room for more daylilies. New ones from the catalogs of course. You have to have different ones than what you already have.

The assistant gardener started weeding what was left after the iris were dug to prevent the use of Roundup near his ripening corn. Collateral damage is a know occurrence in these parts.

Dr. Hortfreud, you can see it is a challenge for the assistant gardener to keep up with these 80 year old gardeners with this sickness. The assistant knows all to well it will all end up looking something like this.

Is there a certain age or certain signs one should look for that tell you it is time to revoke your parents gardening privileges? Thank you for any light and/or raindrops you can shed on this matter.

Concerned Son and
Very Popular Assistant Gardener


Carol Michel said...

Dear Concerned Son and
Very Popular Assistant Gardener,

Dr. Hortfreud has seen this kind of behavior in other gardeners, and in fact, she thinks that YOU may also exhibit some of these characteristics but are in denial, trying to mulch over it in an attempt to cover it up. Research shows there is really no therapy that can help those who must garden. She recommends, however, that you seek your own hort-therapy so that you can accept this condition you have inherited. Or at the very least, you may want to ask "Dear Hortense Hoelove" if she has any coping mechanisms that will help you in these gardens, which by the way, are beautiful in their exuberance!

Dr. Viola Q. Hortfreud, PhD
(Plant Horticulturist Defender)

P.S. The word verification is "trial". Dr. Hortfreud is pondering the meaning of this in relationship to your situation...

Christopher C. NC said...

Dear Dr. Viola Q. Hortfreud PhD,

Thank you so much for your prompt response. You are of the opinion that I myself may have inherited this sickness. Oh my!

Maybe that is why I dream of winning the lottery so I never have to leave the mountain except to visit other gardens. I'm doomed, doomed to chaotic exuberance. And a life time of editing.

The Future Head Gardener

chuck b. said...

"Civilized gardens" would seem to call for lots of hardscaping to keep things...civilized. I would like to have one of those too, at some point. My dad's big obsession is fruit trees. Can't seem to grow enough of them.

Anonymous said...

Haha; this is great; "Dr. Hortfreud". I may copy that with some of my sick friends! ((:


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am glad that Dr H put you straight. It can't be helped. The exuberance is excellent with your editing. Just try to enjoy it would be my advice.

Phrago said...

There is no hope of escaping this madness unless you go blind and that's generally caused another activity...

Lola said...

I'm sure Dr H's advice will not cure what ails you dear Assistant Gardener. But fear not you have a blessed ailment. Just enjoy.
I would like some of those iris we spoke of. I hope you didn't destroy them all. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I believe this sickness should be encouraged, Christopher. Imagine if it were not so. I still wish to be Bulbarella when I grow up, minus the roundup. Long live the chaos that begins as civilized.


Siria said...

Hi Christopher! I agree whole heartedly with Frances. Just think if you needed to encourage them to be interested in things. They run circles around most people their age (and some younger). You are so fortunate to have them and to have them so healthy and full of life. By the way, if they run out of places to dig up and re-do, they can come to my place! :-)

Commonweeder said...

I prefer the 'exuberant' style to 'civilized' styles. Do you think I'm infected too?