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Once a Gardener – Always a Gardener
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

May 8, 2011

In as much as a move to condo living is a welcome change Spring is the time of year that I miss my garden most. Normally, I would be joining the throngs of gardening enthusiasts at the garden centres stocking up on top soil and supplementing their gardening tool collection. It’s always surprising, at least to me, how people are willing to pay for – well – dirt in the desire to enhance their chances of a visually spectacular floral display and vegetable output. When you think about it, there is dirt virtually everywhere you look but gardeners have to have special dirt.

Drop by any centre and an entire section is filled with bags of top soil of every type and purpose. Thinking back, adding top soil worked for all the gardeners in our neighbourhood but for whatever reason, disappeared for us with the first rain. There was also the reoccurring problem with grub attacks that didn’t help the situation. See what I mean? Once a gardener – always a gardener.

The question as to how we enjoy condo living is inevitably followed by, “do you miss your garden?” My stock answer is yes and no. Definitely miss the experience of getting down and dirty with my hands in the soil and no to having to mow the grass. Never told anyone until now but dandelions supplemented the sparse blades of grass and gave the lawn the green shade it wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Conversations with friends and acquaintances who are gardening enthusiasts enjoy regaling me with their plans for the coming season. I

“So how do you like condo living?” actually means, how could you give up your garden followed by, “we could never give up our house. We love growing things.”

Hey! I always did and still do. The change is in the way to grow things. Actually, can’t really call it gardening any more. We’re plant raising now. Upon moving into our condo in early summer four years ago, we purchased two Grecian-looking urns that were filled to over-flowing with a wide variety of annuals. The end result was nice and in an attempt to be organized, we even kept the plastic information sticks as a reminder which plants flourished. Unfortunately, the following year they were nowhere to be found and it’s still guess work. Some things don’t change.

Have to admit, though, I do still love looking at the seed displays and mentally select the species that appeal to me. There is the occasional conversation with strangers at the displays but the discussion stops at one point when the talk turns to flower beds and veggies. Seems that container gardening doesn’t make it with some people. It’s also at this time of the year that I experience pangs of loneliness for my two surviving rose bushes, a hybrid tea and a floribunda, whose life force always hovered between life and death. In a good year, they produced two roses each. Wonder if they’re still in the land of the living or tease the new owners into believing they’re worth the trouble. Reality returns with the quick reminder of the frequent visits to the composter and the plethora of plants that received last rites.

In the choosing flowers, we still have differing views on the selection process for the window boxes and urns, centering on species and color schemes. I like to stick to two main colors while my husband prefers a wide variety of...everything. The truth is that he’s color-blind and is in denial.

“Nature doesn’t pick color schemes,” he will assert in defence of his choices, “so why should we?”

Last year, though, we did agree to stick to three main shades. Three is better than eight – let’s leave it at that. At present we’re in discussions focusing on the cultivation of tomatoes in a pot and whether or not there is a space for them, physically and aesthetically. Once that issue is settled, I’ll broach the subject of herbs. The barbeque still needs a corner.

(Eleanor Tylbor is a retired columnist, humour writer, artist and former gardener-turned-container cultivator in Laval, Quebec, who lives near the river where wonderful things grow without the necessity of human intervention. She also has a blog, The Somewhat Complete Gardener, where she shares gardening tales and welcomes comments at:

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