Good Grief! It's spring - Carolyn

I have been ambushed by spring. The jonquils cover the roadsides with blossoms like butter pats. The forsythia is erupts in gold. Now the red buds and pear trees are flowering as well. Pretty soon we’ll have tulips and azaleas and dogwoods. My pastures are purple with clover and wild violets. Even the marshes are carpeted with pale lemony flowers whose names I don’t know. I’d love to pick some, but if it’s warm enough for jonquils, the water moccasins are out sunning themselves.
Every year I swear I will plant vegetables and herbs and flowers. Every year I invest in hanging baskets for my front porch. And every year I manage to kill everything.  I am the heiress to Rappaccini’s daughter—the one whose touch could kill any plant she touched. Me—I can kill philodendron. I can kill zinnias. I have even managed to destroy hostas, one of the most forgiving plants around.
I’ve always wanted a rose garden, but that crazy I am not. Having roses is like having an entire brood of extra children. Roses get aphids and mold and rot. I would not subject anything that lovely to my untender ministrations. One of my mother’s friends once told me that if she could anything on earth, she wanted her own fulltime plumber. Me, I want a full time gardener.
Spring is sneaky. During the winter everyone’s yard looks ratty, even down south with our non-deciduous shrubs. Come spring, however, everyone else’s looks brilliant. Mine still looks ratty. I finally admitted that my Karma this time around doesn’t include a green thumb.
I love looking at beautiful yards. I buy magazines that are supposed to show me precisely what should be planted where and how to take care of it. I listen to Roger on This Old House devotedly. I watch other gardening shows on television. When my friends talk about their beautiful roses I salivate with envy.
My horse trainer, Peggy, has half an acre of vegetable garden every summer. My friend Bess has raised beds overflowing with goodies. My friend Barbara grows upside down tomatoes and red peppers. Not me. I’m grateful to have somebody to come mow my grass every week and my pastures every six weeks.
Of course, gardening in this area of West Tennessee is a challenge to even the greenest thumb. From May 15 until October 15 is hot summertime. Cotton and soybeans love the weather. Most everything else, me included, hate it. I’d a whole lot rather deal with blanketing the horses to keep them warm than spraying them a dozen times a day to keep the flies away.
Spring is beautiful and glorious, okay? I get it. I simply can’t participate in it. Look, Ma, black thumbs! 


  1. Oh Carolyn, we must be related. I love flowers and often buy spring flowers for my table whether or not I'm allergic to them. But I can kill a potted plant almost before I bring it in out of the car. And I've finally realized that as much as I love bougainvillea that everyone here says you can't kill--no matter where I plant it, it dies. So I gave up. Inside I buy silk plants that look real. In my backyard I have potted metal flowers that I sort of feel bad because they frustrate the hummingbirds. But by doing this, I'm at peace.

  2. Carolyn - I think you don't have to participate in spring if you don't want to, because you paint such a beautiful word picture of it. Makes we want to visit West Tennessee. I used to think I wasn't very good with houseplants and left that to Ron, but now that he can't take care of them, I do. I write watering on my calendar. I, too, am used to philodendrons that usually walk to sink by themselves. This was a beautiful post.

  3. I've killed all those same things, though I can grow spider plants and I did bring home a philodendron and it didn't die in the car. I love spring, too, but I watch it from afar.

  4. I want a full time gardener too- and not have to wear knee guards and have an aching back after weeding, planting, feeding and watering. I love flowers, so I can't let my short season go without creating something pretty to look out, but boy do I pay for it!

  5. Carolyn, I don't have a green thumb, either, and so after years of trying to keep plants growing in the planters that line my patio, I gave up and "planted" artificial flowers. I rotate them according to the seasons. Right now are daffodils and tulips and hyacinth. When they get rain-worn and sun-faded, I replace them. So much easier!


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