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Are We Having Fun Yet?
by Eleanor Tylbor
by Eleanor Tylbor


Eleanor Tylbor has been a freelance writer and columnist for more than twenty years. A resident of Laval, Quebec, Canada, she began her career as a columnist writing for weekly papers and continues to freelance a column covering local news for “The Chomedy News.”

She has also freelanced articles for Internet sites in addition to providing human-interest pieces for various dailies, and is a monthly contributor to the site, sharing her humorous observations and gardening-angst with gardening aficionados.

She is now into balcony gardening.

Blog The (Somewhat) Complete Gardener

July 27, 2003

While on vacation this past summer a visit to a well-known horticultural display garden, should have inspired me to achieve greatness in my own back yard. Strikes me that life has too many should have's, would have's, could have's. I could have had a decent garden if a host of insects with voracious appetites would have gone on diets, instead of chewing every available stalk (but that as they say, is another story) down to the ground. Anyway, this was a much-anticipated visit and one that was to be the highlight of the trip. Alas, it had the opposite effect and triggered off yet another seasonal case of flowerenvy-itis, an all-too-common affliction experienced by those of us who yearn for a decent garden year after year, but end up settling for a mediocre one instead.

An out of date, how-to-gardening book written in the ancient and seldom-used (or heard) dialect of "growers-of-green-things" describes flowerenvy-itis as 1. A common syndrome found mainly among people who consider themselves under-achievers in the garden; 2. The act of experiencing internal angst upon spotting a common flower specie thriving in a garden, that can't be duplicated in their own; 3. A state of denial as in "you've got a case of flowerenvy-it is, Floyd!"

According to the pamphlet distributed to visitors this display garden began as a hobby for the owners, and as is the case with many gardening projects, kind of grew to the point where it now takes up 55 acres. Something to reflect upon the next time you complain about too much grass to cut!

Strolling through the grounds it was interesting to note that the majority of blooms were your common varieties of flowers found in most back yard gardens. A grouping of the stately delphiniums, a personal favorite, was a painful reminder of my straggly hodgepodge of different sized plants that were leaning against a wooden cable/phone/clothes line pole, for support.

The main area of focus for most of the visitors was the extensive rose collection containing every conceivable variety of rose on the earth...a slight exaggeration perhaps, but you name the type and chances are it was there flourishing as only roses can and do... with luck...sometimes. Interesting that roses demand respect and are frequently accorded names after royalty, or important figures in history. Even the manner in which they grow, tall and stately, says something about their breeding. Visitors to this section talked to each other in hushed tones admiring the various species, as if noise would disturb their growth pattern. For the record there was a time when roses had the primo spot in our back garden but over the years and for reasons known only to the rose gods, only one remains. It sort of made me re-think my attitude towards my dearly departed rose bushes that were frequently reprimanded for their refusal to produce roses.

Perfection has the opposite effect on me since it draws attention to personal shortcomings in my garden. To the touch the soil felt similar to mine, yet the results obtained were definitely different. However, the grass was a completely different story. There was no crabgrass to be found or broad leaf or chickweed spotted anywhere. Neither were there any signs of bald spots due to lawnmower blades that were too close to the ground, or large expanses of uncut grass because the golf turf was more appealing to he-who-is-not-into-gardening. No telltale patches of yellow turf from grub assaults as we were experiencing back home, because chances are that grubs wouldn't dare attempt a takeover under such perfect growing conditions. In summation this was paradise found to my backyard want.

Since it didn't seem the appropriate occasion to search the soil for seeds shed by the plants, and there were none anyway, a convenient souvenir shop on the premises sold seed packets. The selection was based on the emotional reaction of having just viewed healthy and visually appealing flowers, and the desire to duplicate the same results back home. However upon closer examination upon my return, the desire for duplication might not be realized due to conversely different growing zones and conditions. In other words, the same as usual.

Now that we're nearing the end of the growing season, and it's assessment time, I'm reminded that nature is forgiving in our horticultural failures. Even roses deserve a second chance - but that's it!

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