Growing Relationships in Your Garden
by Susan Apple
by Barry Glick


Barry Glick has been involved in the plant world since 1954, when at the young, impressionable age of 5, he witnessed Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard on TV) put a cutting of a plant in a glass of water only to sprout roots a few shows later. Barry replicated the experiment with his one of his mother's prized Coleus plants, and as he watched the roots grow, knew that he was hooked for life.

Barry owns Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia - Zone 5

June 1, 2000

There’s nothing quite like getting together with girlfriends and hashing out the solutions to life’s problems. We talk about everything from children and husbands to work and dreams.

At a recent lunch gathering, I decided to conduct my own very unofficial mini-survey about gardening and how it fits into everyone’s lifestyle. It seems the subtle power struggle we men and women dance through, though amusing, is apparently very much alive and thriving in our gardens.

One of my girlfriends tells the group she wants nothing to do with her yard or her garden. Her husband is in charge of all its care and design and his 'hobby' takes up most of his free time. She actually resents his garden as this thing that has come between her and her man. 'If he nurtured our relationship as much as he does his garden, imagine how we'd be growing,' she tells us.

Another says her husband is a real perfectionist. She’s afraid to venture anywhere near the garden area. 'He makes me feel like I can’t even pick a tomato right. I’ve pretty much given up trying.'

Our resident 'earth mother' friend tells us, somewhat sheepishly, that it’s completely different with her mate. They both enjoy working side by side and planning everything together. 'Outside is where we really connect', she shares.

Some of us roll our eyes and order dessert.

We continue to talk about how, in the beginning of our marriages, we divided chores and shared ideas, but how somewhere along the way, things got 'assigned' and went the way of many matters, like who pays the bills and who cooks and cleans with each marriage finding their own solutions and coping mechanisms.

Perhaps it’s time for reexamination of our own approach to our gardens and to ponder whether we may be missing out on some valuable experiences with our partners outside.

At my house, 'You have to do the time, before you can speak your mind' and in my garden, if you haven’t been pulling weeds right next to me, don’t come waltzing by and telling me where to plant the petunias, unless you’ve got the sweat to back it up.

My husband tends to the grass and vegetables and I can usually be found in and around the flowers. I don’t remember exactly how we fell into these duties. Perhaps it was one part interest and one part muscle. But it works for us. No complaints. I’m just grateful that we’re both out there.

Of course, my girlfriends’ comments might be a totally role-reversed at your house. Some women are doing it all and loving it. Some men, too. Your situation is probably as unique as your union. But it’s sad that some partners are not participating in their gardens simply because the welcome mat has been pulled out from under him or her.

If you’ve been feeling a little territorial outside, or a tad annoyed at your spouse’s participation or lack thereof, maybe it’s time to step back a moment and consider how your gardening attitude may be affecting your personal relationships.

Finding fault or demanding perfection have never been successful tools for coexistence and we may not even realize the full extent of their impact on our partnerships... indoors or out. And the balance between time spent on our hobby vs. our families, also bears attention.

Working in the soil together really can be a bond. Unlike hanging wallpaper, sharing the triumphs and disappointments at harvest time is much more like nurturing our children and we could all use the help in lessening each others load along the way.

Maybe loosening up a little outside would inspire our mates to venture out there again and encourage them to work by our sides. Perhaps opening the gate and letting them in once in a while would allow our relationships to flourish and our ties to be that much stronger.

I say it’s worth a try, lest we all wake up one day and discover that the bloom has, indeed, fallen off the rose completely.

.....Keep growing!

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