There are gardeners, and there are gardeners. Gardeners tootle around the yard a few weekends a season, usually when the weeds get out of hand or the perennials need replacing. They visit large DIY stores and buy many plants all at once, usually something hardy, and take advantage of that “if it dies within the year bring it back” policy. Their yards are nice—perhaps a bit perfunctory and not at the forefront of landscape design, but nice. I’m a gardener.
Gardeners, in my experience, look like they were born of the earth and are enveloped by a rumpled aura of cool. Plants bend in adulation when they walk by. They ignore common names and refer to plants by their Latin genus names. They don’t call them flowers; they call them “flowering plants” and raise an eyebrow to anyone who doesn’t. (This happened, and it was embarrassing to the newbie who called them mere flowers. That would be me.)
They don’t put off working in the garden for weeks at a time. Barely a day goes by without them pinching, pulling, or trimming something. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty—they live for it. Half moons of black under their nails are like ten badges of honor.
No, I’m not a gardener, but living in southern California I’ve seen enough of them to know the passionate ones have tools of the trade.
1. Rubber shoes or Wellies, the kind you wear to tromp through mud and manure. (Because you will.)
2. A head covering, preferably a floppy hat that has seen years of abuse.
3. A wheelbarrow, either to carry the rare tulip bulbs you imported from Holland or to use as an impromptu chair.
4. An apron or a passionate flair for layering clothing that doesn’t look like it should match, but somehow does. Gardens are pretty, but to get there they take work. Either wear what you don’t love and look like a hobo (amateur move; my move) or move yards of topsoil looking stylish.
5. A good watering can, because the water pressure from your garden hose is too strong for the petals on that rare flowering plant you bought via catalog, even on the lowest setting. Besides, there is no need to drag a heavy hose around the yard when a large size watering can—the kind you can’t get at a big box store—is lighter, easier to maneuver, and more efficient. Work smarter, not harder.
- Jules K. (Pancakes and French Fries)