The Gardens - In the Beginning

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Gardening Guru

With little time to spare, a pocket full of moths, and an inquisitive, chaotic mind; I did what any workaholic would do to themselves.  I signed up for the Master Gardener's class the agriculture extension was teaching that year.  Not satisfied with just deleting another relaxing evening of house cleaning in my week, I dragged husband along wiping out another relaxing evening of tv watching in his week.  Wahoo!

Looking forward to rubbing elbows with gardeners of like skills, I dreamed of becoming an official expert...a know-it-all in the universe of plants.  Learning nothing I hadn't already taught myself since acquiring a home and yard, the classes became excruciating, except when I dosed off a time or two.

With certificate well-earned for enduring hours of teachings that weren't options for my situation, I was an official expert of the green.  A black cloud instantly mushroomed over my noggin, and I swear lightning was crackling throughout it, when I discovered advice given in the master gardener capacity, had to be recommendations the master gardener's program accepted; including pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.  Finally, after a long powwow with my inner self, I agreed to be a trader to my cause and get on with being a nifty master of gardening.

The master gardener meeting each month was packed with wonderful people, exciting presentations and programs, and always a potluck dinner which agreed 100% with a husband whose only mastering skill after all those classes and certificate in hand was pulling pesky weeds and a few of the good guys. His credibility as a guru of the green never came into question. He was the best little weed picking picker this side of the Mississippi.

A competitive climb to the top of the ladder type of anal retentive person, I soon latched onto the president of the group.  She was ancient, a bonafied master, and the most interesting person I had ever met.  Tucking me under her wing, she became my cherished mentor.  She requested a look at the records I kept of my gardens that were in their early stages of being native organic.  I had a detailed map of front and back gardens with every plant and hardscape detail drawn to scale ( doesn't everyone do this?), and booklets that were created to hand out to inquiring minds of my obsession.

This little gray haired lady who thought purple the only color worth having, pushed me to excel.  I swear she had a whip snapping behind us whenever we slowed down a bit with all that dag gum nabbit weed extracting week after week.  Whatever happened to just sitting in the extension office answering all those inquiring phone calls?  I was perturbed that the position most people saw me in was with my sweaty head just short of being tucked in-between my legs and my patootie stuck up in the air.

The next spring, uninterested in another weed picking massacre, I was hoodwinked into accepting the vacated tree chairperson post. Okay, perhaps I hadn't mastered everything in my quest to be the wisest of instructors.  The two sick apple trees that came with my yard were mysteriously murdered (who? me???), and I'd never planted a tree in my life except the peach tree I blasted to smithereens when I couldn't keep up with the black rot patrol. No matter, she said, you'll learn as you go, he he!

Among the masters, competition was fierce to win that coveted document declaring one to be the best of all the rest in a given month.  Personally, I swear there were a few skunks in that group padding their hours of service, cause I worked mucho quadrupled excessive hours each week and only received one of those worthless documents.  Of course, I felt elated in my ten seconds of glory when my name was shouted out.

Soon acquiring some expertise at the hoodwinking game myself, I managed to sweet talk the ag center city arborist into working with me and my tree gang.  We were in charge of two tree inventories for two different historical gardens striving to become arboretums.  He took my rather large group (surprised even myself on my effectiveness in recruiting), and spent too many days of his short lived summer dragging us from one tree to another until we knew everything there was to know about classifying trees.  And here I thought a tree was just a tree...dummy me!

Lucked out on the tour of Vanderbilt University Arboretum. Managed to con them out of seven guide booklets for my group, but bummed out in that my group was three times that size, so the seven fifty per book for the rest of the group left me teary eyed poor.  No matter...we all were one large family that day, and we stuck around for hours with the help of one lady's husband who unofficially became our knowledgeable guide.

I kept my group and husband active all summer, a blast from the first spring flower to the fall of the first snowflake; but I was running on empty, and all that planning and executing was burning me to a cinder faster than a starving tick running out of options.  I was still pulling all those blasted weeds, attending meeting after meeting, working fair ground garden shows, prepping and displaying my yard in the garden tours, cleaning house, working yard, 8 to 5 job, caring for pet dog on her last leg...then snap crackle POP!!! it was time to escape to a life of my own.

Husband wasn't too keen on sticking around with all those masters of the herd without this burnt out chick along for the ride.  Blamed for ruining his weed picking  green thumb adventure as a cool master of the gardens, I moved on with life in my own little seventh heaven, while he vegetated once again in front of his beloved tv.  So there you have it...two peas in a pod...struggling through a great gardening adventure with a smidgen of disappointment thrown in.    

Welcome to the veggie patch, where the rain never ends until one has no time to water; wild critters line up for two pieces of the pie; and misbehaving plants forget to read the fine print on the back of their seed packs.

Corn and runner beans
on a mission to reach the moon

Left to right...Radishes and Petunias,
Leaf Lettuce, Carrots, Basil Plants, and Cucumber

Cucumbers after half of stems cut off.
Yikes! I wonder how many cukes one can actually eat in any given day.


  1. You certainly are a master gardener in my mind. Your yard is gorgeous.

  2. that´s the way it is. Love that gardnener of yours. :)

  3. Sometimes, we are just experts and don't know it! What a great garden--I hope mine is half as nice next summer!

  4. My friend pointed your blog out to me, and I was delighted to read it and recognize myself. I stayed for 14 years as a faithful Master Gardener, and finally decided that life was too short, many MG having disappointed me with their snotsy attitudes and mean mouths, and besides the Extension agent had just become a pain in the behind. "But what will I do, if I don't Garden?" I wailed. To which my friend retorted, "Go take a clay class at the college"......and I did! End of all that quap! I am going on 4 or 5 years of being clean, sober, a non master gardener, and it feels GREAT! Now I garden at my leisure, and once again, I love it. I learned a lot in those 14 years, and I am pleased that knowledge is the one thing you can take with you when you go.

    1. Wow! You stuck with it much longer than me. Knowledge is one thing we always carry with us through the years. We always profit somehow from learning, even if it is just knowing what not to do.


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