Friday, April 4, 2008

Lay the tombstone
























Americans are a funny old lot, so similar and yet so different from the rest of the world. Whilst there are a great many things to admire in Americans, there is one all to obvious failing. Reluctant as I am to pick fault, sometimes I am bound to tell it how it is. Let it be known that when it comes to gardening, the average American is to be found sadly wanting. The average foreigner, myself included, can be deluded for many years before uncovering the truth.

All foreigners know that the right thing to do, is to visit a garden centre and buy a packet of seeds or maybe, if extravagance gets the better of us, a very small plant. The small plant, no greater than three inches under any circumstances, must be taken home, planted with care in just the right spot and then nurtured with love and mature in equal proportions for years thereafter. Then, the said plant will grow and bloom. The owner enjoys the delightful experience with patience and an ever blossoming wisdom for the meaning of life.

Americans on the other hand, favour instant gardening. Instant gardening involves buying mature plants in gallon tubs, sometimes more than one gallon tubs, often to include 10 foot trees. They then have the audacity to remove huge clods of earth and dump the plants in the holes such that within the course of the average afternoon they can go from moonspace to landscape. I mean, however you view this kind of behaviour, it’s basically cheating!


English people are renowned for being gardeners, regardless of the national shortage of castles. This is a whole nation devoted to the lifting of Dahlia tubers to over winter, wrapped in newspaper. Civilization is maintained by perpetuating geraniums in hot houses in our green and fragrant land. Our American cousins are scandalously derelict in their duty to Pelargoniums, where they are left to ramble through roses and grow without check like the prolific weeds that they are, the plants not the people, that is to say. They are a strange people that defy accurate translation.

Meanwhile.

I skip around the garden centre until I am forced to leave by the silent shout from my under-funded bank account.
“Can we help you out with that today?” she offers as they always do.
“No, I’ll be just fine, thank you.”
“Here, let me give you a hand,” offers the teenage girl. I give in. She probably wants to stretch her legs outside for a while rather than being cooped up in the check out stand. We trundle out with the trolly to the car, open the boot and start unloading. I open the side door, push back the seat, heave 5 foot, 3.6 gallons of White Lady Banks together with her tightly furled little rose buds into the space on the carpet, snap back the chair to hold her securely in place. The top blooms tickle the door on the other side as it nestles in the foot well, horizontal and happy.
“But you can’t do that!”
“Why not?”
“It’s unhuman!”
“Er….yes, you’re right, it’s a plant?”
“I mean it’s mean.”
“Meaning?”
“I don’t know, it jus doesn’t seem right somehow?”
“It’ll be fine. I’ll be home in 20 minutes.”
“But lying down like that it……..looks..... kinda dead.”
“But it’s still alive, it’s only been lying down for a minute.”
“Ain’t it kinda cruel?”
“Um…..I don’t think it minds.”
“How d’you know?”
“Well it’s not as if it has a mind to mind really.”
"Ya think?"
"Sometimes."

Well I'm certainly glad to lay that myth to rest. Now I'm off to go and hug a tree.

3 comments:

Linda said...

You would be proud of me as an American as I just bought several packets of seeds yesterday and will be starting them indoors here in the next couple of days to later put out in the flowerpots I have on my front porch!

Mimi Lenox said...

You've been royally tagged by Mimi Queen of Memes. Have fun!
Message In a Bottle

Whitenoise said...

Still a few weeks to gardening season here, but at least we finally lost the last of the snow 3 or 4 days ago.