Green dumb

Once again, no one asked us to be on this year’s garden tour. That makes 15 years straight. Not only were we not on the tour, the street directions to the selected homes were carefully written so no one would have to pass our house. Just because our lawn looks like a post-hurricane clean-up site doesn’t mean we don’t like flowers. Just because I miss huge swatches of borders with the weed whacker, should we be treated like second-class citizens? It didn’t help when a car pulled into our driveway last week and a guy got out, pointed to our front lawn and asked Sue who owned “that vacant lot in front of your house.” Why, oh why couldn’t he have just been a Jehovah’s Witness?

“He was,” Sue said. “They were looking for a place that looked cheap and abandoned where they could build a new hall.”

Being clubbed by the Garden Club doesn’t bother me so much, but Sue takes it personally. Not against the garden club – against me.

The problem is that I am the kind of person who pulls up the flowers and leaves the weeds. And ever since that unfortunate accident with the Roundup sprayer, I’m not even allowed near the garden anymore.

They make it look so easy on TV. You spray some Miracle-Gro, you spread some weed-killing fertilizer, you ride your lawn tractor, you till with the Mantis Tiller and voila! You have the most beautiful, crabgrass-free lawn and garden on your block. You get gigantic flowers, huge tomatoes and prize-winning pumpkins. When I do it, we get prize-winning slugs and gigantic nettles.

What they don’t really emphasize enough in the commercials is that you have to go out in the hot sun and do the spraying, riding, tilling. You could be out there for hours. That’s the part of gardening I don’t get. It’s the same with those exercise machines they sell on TV. One’s been sitting in my den for two years, and I still don’t have six-pack abs. Apparently, (and this is in the fine print) you have to use it twenty minutes a day, or some such nonsense, to get the body you always wanted. Just owning it doesn’t do the trick. I was bamboozled once again. All those easy installments of money down the drain.

Not only were we not selected for the garden tour, there was an anonymous note enclosed with the rejection asking me not even to take the tour. It seems people thought I asked too many questions. How will you learn if you don’t ask? One woman had a beautiful blooming plant that everyone on the tour was admiring. I said, “It is beautiful, what kind of flower is that?”

“It’s a rose bush,” twenty people said in unison.

“You guys really know your stuff,” I said. Sue said she wanted to crawl in a hole. For the rest of the tour, she pretended she was with someone else. But I did know the names of a few of the flowers just from being with Sue in her garden. There were many “Don’t Step On Those,” several large beds of “Watch Where You’re Walkings” and several displays of “Mow Those and I’ll Shoot Yous.”

“Sorry,” I said, “But not everyone has a green thumb.”

“Green thumb?” she said, “I’m starting to wonder if you have opposable thumbs.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2009, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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