What Not To Tell The Kids

I’m the first to admit it.  There’s a lot about gardening that I don’t know – so much so that I can’t even pretend.  What I do know, I have been able to gather from books, conversations, television shows, and, now, from fellow garden bloggers and reader comments.

None of this, though, is enough to stop me from the seasonal shake of my head when I pass some gardens and non-gardens and wonder, “What were they thinking — or not thinking, as the case may be?”  And once that ball gets rolling, my list of garden pet peeves gets longer and I can’t help but imagine the conversations that might be happening.

“Mommy, where does mulch come from?”

“Well, dear, deep in the center of the earth there is a hot core of molten mulch.  And each spring, as the air gets warmer, the molten mulch moves toward the surface – usually around the base of trees because their roots have punctured the mulch bubble.  Then, mulch pours from the ground around the tree, piling up higher and higher as it cools.”

So that would explain it – because I can’t think of any other reason to explain the appearance of cone-shaped mulch volcanoes that pop up each spring on residential and commercial properties alike.

I have always been of the mindset that mulch is good.  It’s decorative and practical, as it helps to keep roots cool in summer and warm in winter, as well as limiting weed growth and aiding in the soil’s moisture retention – but too much of a good thing can be bad.  Mulch that is too deep can have a negative effect on a tree’s bark and root functioning, and, therefore, on its overall health. 

Grab your rakes, America.  It’s time to save countless gardens and yards from these devastating mulch flows.

“Daddy, where does seedless watermelon come from?”

“Well, honey, um. . . . .”


When did “seed” become an ugly word?  The seeds are part of the fun that comes from eating a watermelon – that’s why spitting was invented.  The rest of the fun comes from the rich color and the sweet juice that I remember dribbling down my chin and onto my t-shirt.

Seedless is even used as part of the advertisement.  It says, “See how convenient I am.  No seeds here to take up your time.”  Now we have a generation that actually thinks seedless is a good thing. 

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I just haven’t been fortunate enough to actually eat a delicious seedless watermelon – and I’m done trying.  Each time I sample some, I feel as if something is missing – more than just seeds.  When I finish eating a slice and look at my seedless plate, I start missing the way watermelon used to be – and, for that matter, how so many other things used to be.

Yes, in our quest to go seedless, we have lost something.  Color.  Flavor.  And a childhood memory.

Where, oh where, has my watermelon gone?  Oh, where, oh where can it be?

“Mommy, why are our flowers melting?”

“Not now, sweetheart.  Just eat your seedless watermelon so we can go watch daddy and his mulch volcano.”

If I remember my high school biology, plastic is not organic and so it cannot reproduce – and yet, more and more plastic flowers are appearing in gardens, window boxes, and flower pot displays.  Even the anole in the above photo looks perplexed — or at least as perplexed as an anole can look.  In fact, I have even turned it into a bit of a game – I spy. . . plastic tulips in the privet hedge.

Is there ever a good excuse for using plastic flowers in the landscape?  Maybe it has to do with conserving water – you know, using plastic for greener living.  Or, maybe it has to do with finding the perfect flower strong enough to withstand summer’s heat and/or winter’s cold – but at some point, even plastic daffodils need a rest. 

My fellow gardeners, we must put a stop to these plastic pushers.  If not, I fear we are witnessing the dawn of a new invasive species – one that cannot be composted away. 

And now that I’ve gotten all this off my chest, I’m gazing upon a fourth peeve: the naked yard.  One of my neighbors has nothing planted , and I can only imagine how they explain that to the kids.  Hmmmm.

46 thoughts on “What Not To Tell The Kids

  1. OK, can I add one more? Leaf blowers. Gas powered leaf blowers whose piercing roar and whine ruin the peace of weekend afternoons because some people think that EVERY SINGLE LEAF should be blown out of their beds and out of their grass so nothing gets in the way of the Weed’n’Feed. I mean, power lawn mowers are bad enough (I have a push mower), but leaf blowers don’t even work all that well. I want to yell at some of my neighbors, “JUST LET THE LEAVES ALONE, DAMN IT! And if you have to get rid of leaves somewhere, PICK UP A RAKE, IT WON’T KILL YOU!” Not that I get all that worked up about it.

    • Jason, you can add as many peeves as you’d like. For years, I swept and raked my yard debris, only to have the neighbors’ lawn care service guys blow their debris to my side. I surrendered and blow right back. Welcome to suburbia.

      • Not just suburbia! I live just outside a town of about 2,500 and, although I can’t see my neighbors’ houses, I can HEAR their #!@*able leaf-blowers, weed-eaters, lawn mowers, chainsaws, wood chippers, combines, hay-balers plows and whatall. To add insult to injury, one neighbor has a son with a car stereo system that would shame the equippers of a large concert hall.

        But, ah! Early morning is a joy of birdsong accompanied by a light breeze rustling the leaves and after dusk we are treated to a chorus of crickets and frogs with a light show by the fireflies.

    • Hi Char. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at a window box and said, “Are those ivy leaves blue?” The sun is definitely not kind to the fake stuff.

    • They exist here, as well. Personally, I’d rather be remembered with something living, rather than with something that will outlast my remains. Gruesome, but true. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Once upon a time, one of the gardens I care for hosted a meeting of the town’s biggest garden club. We had every brown leaf pinched, every edge of every bed spotless, all soil surfaces patted with compost. You get the drill.

    There was one plant, however, that looked just too hum-drum. A red-hot poker hadn’t started to bloom, and its place in the garden was just a little to noticeable to be so dull. So, I went to the hobby store, looking for a solution. I found a huge, purple mum-looking thing with a stem the same blue-green as the leaves of the red-hot poker. In a fit a devilish glee, I took it back to the garden and stuck it in the poker, not even telling the homeowner…

    Next day, the well-dressed ladies in sensible shoes gathered in a circular knot around this unusual display. I was on-hand to interpret the garden, and was only too glad to come answer their question: Cheryl, what is THAT?

    “Fake,” I giggled.

    … yes, I still work in that garden…

  3. I agree with you about the plastic flowers, Kevin. They are definitely one of my pet peeves. My dear mother, who didn’t have a green thumb, used to put plastic sunflowers out in the driveway when I was visiting her home in Michigan. She’d wait for me to to notice them, and then she’d have a good laugh while I looked on in horror. She didn’t have a green thumb, but she definitely had a great sense of humor. 🙂

  4. I’m laughing with you on all of your complaints! You are so right…what a perceptive post! The compost is hilarious…expensive waste where I come from! And you have such a good point about watermelon! Remember spitting seeds at siblings? I sure do…and plastic. Eegads! I hosted a baby shower in my backyard yesterday, and all the people who have taken to the “joys of concrete” went on and on at our beautiful yard. Such oohs and ahhs…and then the comments about how they’d love to live here! I felt like handing them a rake, hoe and the kneepads I use for weeding and telling them they could if they’d just work at it, but I just smiled and said “thank you.” You’ve given me a gift in this post today! 🙂 Debra

    • Debra, you’re very welcome for the gift. I’ve had that same reaction from guests, but no one realizes the work that goes into maintaining the garden. The are some mornings when I feel like an employee at some resort. 🙂

  5. When I pulled up your blog and saw that picture, I thought ‘Oh, surely he didn’t do THAT in his yard!’ I was relieved as I read on…it never ceases to amaze me at the huge mulch volcanoes you see on commercial properties! Yikes! Love your blog, you always give me a giggle!

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    • I don’t even know what to say. At least, though, plastic pink flamingoes have a nostalgic quality. I’m not so sure about the plastic mums. 🙂

  7. Superb! Not the seedless thing but your commentary. Seedless grapes are a weird one for me, and I have to admit I just don’t compute non-gardening, and hate concrete even more – dreadful for the environment, miserable for the water table and sore eyes looking at it ! Keep on writing !!

  8. Oh too funny! I’m guessing that people think, well if some mulch is a good thing, more mulch must be even better! (Though I admit as the parent of a small child who looks upon watermelon seeds as evil incarnate, that I appreciate the invention/mutation/hybrid monster of the seedless watermelon.)

    • I’m sure the seedless variety makes Moms sigh with relief — but maybe they should have an adults only section in the produce aisle. Just a thought. 🙂

  9. There’s also the “Mommy, why do they always water in the middle of the 104 degree afternoon?”

    – Well honey, you remember the Grimlins? Their lawn has microscopic Mogwai, and if they water at night like you and I know you’re supposed to, the Mogwai will turn into Grimlins and devour their grass.


    (Thanks for the chuckles!)

  10. Pingback: Breaking Up With August Is Hard To Do « Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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