The Dirt on Gardening

Illustration by Shirley Bass

How ironic is it for me to reside in the Garden City and have absolutely no interest in gardening? If only Augusta were the Chardonnay City or even the Deep-Fried Milky Way City, then I would feel right at home. But alas, I’ve talked to the Chamber of Commerce, and they refuse to change Augusta’s nickname.

Not that I don’t approve of gardens. Goodness, no. I adore gardens! I simply need a full-time gardener to go along with the garden. I call it vicarious gardening, which, in my mind, is the best kind. I sit on the verandah, sipping sweet tea and watch someone else wield a trowel. It’s a lovely way to while away a day, particularly if your gardener has a nice build and occasionally sheds his shirt.

Unfortunately vicarious gardening is an expensive hobby. Most people, me included, can’t afford the services of a hard-bodied gardener or even a flabby one and are forced to take charge of their own little plots of dirt. For years I was able to dodge the whole gardening issue by living in neighborhoods with rather low landscaping expectations. (Abandoned tires were a popular lawn accent.)

But then I moved to a fussy subdivision where the residents frown on the natural look, i.e., letting your yard get so overgrown you need a machete to get to your front door.

 In the interest of keeping peace with my neighbors, I thought it might be wise to join a garden club. I discovered that Augusta has 20 garden clubs, most named after labor intensive plants like azaleas, camellias and Cherokee roses. I e-mailed the Augusta Council of Garden Clubs and asked, “Do you have a less intimidating club? For beginners? Perhaps a Chia Pet club?”

I’m still waiting for an answer, but in the meantime, I bought a book for beginning gardeners and found it be an exceedingly dull read except for the brief section on crepe murder, which gave me pruning shear nightmares for weeks.

The book is also stuffed with too much disturbing information. For example, it features an entire section on grubs. (That’s beetle larva for the uninitiated.) And don’t get me started on the manure chapter or as the author calls it “The Scoop on Poop.” Not the sort of thing you want buzzing around your brain while you’re grazing the salad bar.

 After reading the book I’ve decided that, instead of learning to garden, it would be far easier to continue to pester the Chamber of Commerce to change Augusta’s nickname. I think I’ve finally come up with a winner: Instead of being the plain old Garden City, we should call ourselves the Beer Garden City. Our slogan could be “Visit Augusta, the Beer Garden City, and get plowed.” The nickname still retains the spirit of horticulture, but it’s a lot more fun. Something to consider. 

Karin Gillespie is the author of five novels and considers herself an expert at growing mildew on her shower curtain. Visit her

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