News and Tribune


May 3, 2013

STAWAR: The garden of weedin’


Diane and I spend most of our time in the yard picking up dead branches and tree limbs. This is the first house we’ve lived in that has a lot of trees and feels much wind. I always thought trees were relatively permanent and stable and had no idea how mobile they can be. We are still picking up from the September hurricane of 2008, when a tree crushed our car. 

Two weeks ago, we took a time out from clearing twigs and branches to go to the spring plant sale at the Prosser Career Education Center. When we were checking out, the man at the counter distinctly told us not to plant the annuals we bought until after May 1. Of course, we ignored his advice and went right home and planted them anyway. Since then, we’ve had to cover them up at least twice due to frost warnings. They all survived, but the begonias have taken a beating. 

 We may not have good gardening habits but we are in good company. According to a survey by the marketing firm Scarborough last May, nearly half of all American homeowners gardened within the past year — that’s more than 164 million people. These gardeners are about 10 percent more likely to be baby boomers like us. 

Other than putting a few strawberry plants in a large flower pot that produced a grand total of four berries in the last eight years, we haven’t tried to plant a garden here in Indiana. Back in Florida, I tried growing vegetables once, just to show the kids what it was like. The carrots were stringy and deformed and the lettuce was far too bitter to eat. 

It reminded me of when my father tried to grow corn back in Illinois. He was pretty good at roses and tomatoes and I have documented his futile attempts at fruit trees. One section of our backyard served as a floral terminal ward, where the germaniums we gave my mother every year on Mother’s Day were transplanted until they quietly passed away.

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