Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dear GardenPerfect Magazine,

Thank you for your latest issue of GardenPerfect. I've added it to the top of the Must Read pile in my bathroom. While I have great appreciation for the detailed visual trips through all the perfect gardens you've featured, I have a few questions for your editors.


The view from my kitchen door

Where are all the gardens that have been designed by busy, working people with plants purchased from the sale table at local big box stores, humble garden centers, and native plant sales? How do the gardeners you've featured deal with deer and other garden destroying mammals, fire ants, snakes, plant devouring bugs, and diseases? In the winter, have they ever had their trees watered with boiling water by someone who thought they were too cold? I know this might surprise you, but trees don't like boiling water.

Have they ever finished planting a garden bed by porch light because they ran out of sunshine? I recently had that problem, too. I think I may have flashed a few of my night jogging neighbors while I was at it since my shirt was too big. I noticed all the gardeners you featured wore color coordinated gardening gear. Is there a store for that? Because all of my gardening clothes are a bit stained and most have holes in them. I like to think of them as well ventilated.


Honeybee on New York ironweed
 It's back legs are full of pollen.


My ironweed would prefer more sun and flopped over sideways to get the point across. I now have it propped up with plant stakes and have decided it looks like modern art.

As a dog owner, I really need to ask about how they maintain such perfect gardens while also owning pets. I noticed none of their beds look like they've been trampled by a herd of pygmy elephants or a water buffalo with a severe case of gastritis. One of my dogs recently went on a bunny hunt through a patch of coneflowers. Since Lucy caught, ate, and then pooped out the bunny in what can only be described as an atomic ass explosion, she's left the coneflowers alone and they are slightly less prostrate than they were last week. I apologize for my language, but when a dog who normally just eats dog food eats a bunny's squishy parts, things get weird.


Smashed coneflower seedlings


I'm not hungry. I've already eaten.

I recently had several branches torn off my tomato plant. You might think this is no big deal, but it's my only tomato plant so I'm a bit possessive. Worried it had been the victim of a psychotic vampire squirrel, I consulted a friend who advised me the creature had been much larger, but to fill the feeders, just to stay safe. A tomato hating black bear perhaps? A giant radioactive space weasel? Have the gardeners in your magazine ever had their plants mauled by a clumsy "I'm so sorry, Mom" teenager? How do their plants recover so quickly? My tomato was only safe for a few hours before being smashed again in a storm. How do the gardeners you've featured deal with drought, fire, floods, 80 mph winds, and afternoon temps hotter than hell?


Swallowtail butterfly and skipper on coneflowers


My last question concerns the garden art you featured in your last story. I was truly impressed by the mosaic fountain created from antique tiles excavated from the ruins of Pompeii, but that doesn't seem achievable for the average person. Today I threw some flat glass marbles into the bottom of one of my birdbaths. I know it doesn't have the panache or elegance of the featured mosaic, but it was about a billion dollars cheaper. Just a thought.

Sincerely,
Tammy from Casa Mariposa

46 comments:

  1. Tammy, you're right 100 times! The magazines like this are released for a dream, not practice. Nice photo of Lucy!

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    1. Thanks! You're right about the magazines showing us dreams instead of reality. Sometimes I look at the picture and think that there is no possible way one single person takes care if it all!

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  2. Thanks so much for the big pile of garden love Tammy! Your timing is perfect. Our car is on the fritz and the noises it is making are sounding expensive. (Just when we had started to think we could afford some kind of type vacation involving a tent). It is hotter than he!! here and the grass is crisper than fried chicken. Needless to say, I am feeling very sorry for myself and could use some love.
    The problem with garden tours is that the perfectly groomed gardens may inspire, but can at the same time, give you an inferiority complex. Yesterday, I visited a shade garden where the frustrated owner ripped out all her less-than-perfect grass and replaced it with astroturf. Now that's radical! You might wonder what was next. Pristine plastic flowers? The hard thing for me was that fact that her garden was really nice apart from the I-am not-opposed-to-faking-it-green grass.
    My garden is as dog-trampled as yours is. Trust me! I have two flowerbeds where I have lost control and have to start over...when I get the chance. Young Mador has taken to digging up and tugging on the weed barrier under the pea gravel in the circle garden at the back of the yard. My garden is not perfect, but there are no astroturf or plastic flowers in my future.
    P.S. Love the glass pebbles in the birdbath. I have an acquaintance who always pinches back his ironweed to prevent it from flopping when in flower. It could be that yours needs to be moved to a sunnier spot, but perhaps it is worth a shot to pinch it back in mid-spring. You will get more branching, smaller flowers and fingers-crossed no flopping.

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    1. Astroturf?? Gag! But I can sympathize with her desperation. There's always garden love on hand at the Casa. :o) Hopefully, your car repair won't be too costly. When the ironweed started growing, I thought it was milkweed so I left it alone. But pinching it back is a great idea since I don't have any where else to move it. Hang in there!

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  3. You have to wonder if those magazines even feature real plants--maybe they're all plastic! :)

    Sorry to hear about your tomato plant. That's so strange. I'm going to blame the squirrels. They've completely ruined my blueberry plants, and if they could get to all my tomatoes they would. Your birdbath looks beautiful!

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    1. My daughter tripped over her too floppy flip flops and accidentally mauled the tomato plant. I'm just glad it wasn't a space weasel. I had a neighbor once who landscaped part of his backyard with silk foliage. It looked great from a distance but when it looked exactly the same in the dead of winter, I got suspicious. It was so bizarre but he never had to water!

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  4. Aw, such a cute and very true post! Poor Lucy!!! Goodness gracious are you sure you are feeding her well enough? What possessed her to eat a bunny's insides??? Yuck! I hope she is feeling much better. I love your marbles!! Might have to go dump some in my bird bath!

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    1. Lucy is well fed and pampered. I think she ate the bunny because it was tasty. I just hope she doesn't do it again. :o)

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  5. Your point is well made! Those perfect gardens are owned by the same people featured is home interior magazines...the ones with no unmade beds or unwashed clothes or toothpaste in the sink, Rather than aspire to be like them, I'll try to be more like you; sounds much more fun & satisfying.

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    1. Thanks! I've been in houses that were picture perfect before and they felt weird, like I was in a model home. Honestly, I was a little creeped out. I like people, houses, gardens, etc that are completely real and always imperfect!

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  6. Amen, Tammy! From teenage boys, marauding dogs, pernicious disease and capricious weather gardening sometimes seems a wasted endeavor. But then some little sweet lizard , bird or butterfly comes by and makes it all worthwhile! And although you've had a heck of a summer so far the shot of your garden from the kitchen is absolutely garden magazine worthy!

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    1. Capricious is the perfect word to describe weather! It's always unpredictable and just leaves us guessing. I love the 'Karley Rose' pennisetum against the Rose of Sharon. It's so soft. :o)

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  7. LOL! oh Tammy, this article is perfection. I had to remove the remains of a starling and chipmunk off my porch this weekend after a similar romp through the posies so I can completely relate to your situation. Love your plants stakes - I have similar ones but I like that yours are coloured!

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    1. I like the colors, too. They add a little zing. :o) When I cleaned up what was left of the bunny, its eyes were wide open. I could have lived with out that!

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  8. Tammy (by the way, nice to know your first name now :-)), I had to chuckle a few times when I read your little rant! You are so right! I hardly buy garden magazines anymore, because their spreads are so unrealistic. Maybe in the future they come out as limited editions for the "Upper-Ten-Thousands", who can afford to have gardens like that!
    Christina

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    1. Maybe they should come with a warning that says 'This garden is only achievable if you win the lottery first so you can afford to hire a designer and gardening crew.' It would make me feel better, too! :o)

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  9. I love this post, every part of it is so true! You had me laughing out loud.

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    1. I was laughing as I wrote it. The tree that was watered with boiling water survived, barely. :o)

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  10. Tammy! Let the call be heard throughout the land: Real gardeners, unite. Stand proudly by your imperfections. Altogether, now – We are real! We are real!

    Full disclosure: My garden and I appear in gardening magazines from time to time, but no one would ever accuse either of us of perfection.

    Cheers!
    Just a Country Gardener

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    1. I've seen you in magazines before but since I know the blogger behind the pictures, I know how real your garden is. I'm always amazed at how many rocks you have!

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  11. Ah. THAT's calling the compost poop! Hi5 girlfriend.

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  12. It's the garden tours, not the magazines, that make me wilt with discouragement when I visit them. So perfect. Inspirational, yes, and full of ideas I can take away, but so perfect. sigh.

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    1. I met a gardener who quit her garden club because they all had garden crews who did the work for them. I think tour gardens should come with disclosures that state how the garden is maintained. If the words 'crew' and 'staff' are employed, people have a right to know. It's deceitful of the owner, who also may have hired a designer, to take all the credit when all they've done is write a check. It would be kind and honest if they admitted, that while they are lucky enough to enjoy such perfection on a daily basis, they are not the creators of it.

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  13. Funny post. Let us know if you get an answer! I like those magazines best in the winter, when I have amnesia about how my garden REALLY looks and can fool myself into thinking mine can be like that, too. But in the winter issues the magazines are often kind of thin on content and pretty pictures and mostly show ornamental cabbages, etc. I don't need "timely" -- just give me gorgeous photos when I really need them!

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    1. By January I'm tired of cabbages. I spend quite a bit of time in the winter deluding myself about my garden. All those garden mags just fuel my fantasies. :o)

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  14. LoL! I love it! I feel human now!.... I can never get my gardens, plants, or anything else to look like those found in the magazines.

    Thanks for making us laugh! It comforting to know we all have this in common.

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    1. Maybe they're all just movie sets and the people in them are paid extras. That makes more sense than thinking they're all real. :o)

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  15. Okay okay, I must've been distracted when I first read this post and totally missed the dog's bunny lunch story. I nearly spewed coffee on the keyboard when I reread it today, I was laughing so hard. Yeah, I'd like to see a feature article about THAT kind of stuff in a mag. LOL Hang in there, kiddo.

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    1. I'm pretty sure I'd be edited so heavily, there'd be no point in submitting anything! But it would definitely make the magazine more interesting to read.

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  16. You're Soooooooooooooooo...funny! I love it!
    Yes, I let my last impossibly perfect gardening magazine slip into oblivion just last year. I found myself turning each page and mumbling, 'impossible, impossible, impossible....
    I really think all of us are realizing that the real GOLD is in these wonderful things we call garden blogs.
    REAL PEOPLE doing REAL GARDENING with REAL PLANTS under REAL CIRCUMSTANCES!
    Now I'm off to check on my latest order of broken Pompeii tiles from 2,000 BC to see if they are clashing with my million dollar Auguste Rodin sculpture. Wish me luck.
    David/:0)

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    1. I had to cancel my order of Pompeii tiles when I discovered they clashed with my outdoor Mona Lisa. How's that Rodin workin' for ya? :o) My garden inspiration comes from blogs, too. I don't find fantasy very inspiring, although it can be really funny.

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  17. Wow, you made my day! I laughed out loud and actually read your post to my husband, who laughed, too. This is so true, and your post is so encouraging to those of us who have to do it all! Thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad I made you smile and laugh! I've been worried about you and that horrible drought. This too shall pass!!

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  18. Your post gave me a much needed smile.

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  19. I absolutely loved your article. Especially the bird bath at the end. So funny. I was also seeing visions of my cats going to the loo in my garden and in the process digging up plants that I had just put in etc. Again, a super article! Smiling :)

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    1. I grew up with four cats and they were so grateful for the giant litter boxes we'd built for them in the garden. They just couldn't figure out why their toilets were full of vegetables.

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  20. OMG...I am hysterically hyperventilating right now! Our dogs do that exact thing in my garden, although they chase squirrels and hunt for voles. The description of your dogs damage fits what one of mine does all the time, trying to climb trees! He runs right over my tall plants and attempts to climb up trees. The other dog has a diarreah problem on and off (IBD) and does a number on the leaves of my plants. He feels he needs to do it ON a plant & not just on mulch. It hardens and is a mess sometimes, esp. in this heat!! As far as storm damage, last week lightening struck a tree that knocked over 2 of our crepe myrtles and the tree landed in one of my perennial beds. The plants are lying on the ground, still, and it looks a wreck! I haven't written about it on my blog yet but might do it. Your sense of humor is right on;-)

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    1. Your dog poops ON the plants? That is gross and hysterical!! But what excellent aim. My dogs once went on a mole hunt that required resodding part of the yard. They caught the mole but did way more damage in the process than the mole did.

      I'm so glad you're ok but how frustrating to have to deal with damage. I'd like more rain but less wind and lightning!

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  21. My gosh I laughed so hard reading this. I too have wondered in what perfect world (stage) do they take these photos and who can afford this stuff. My gardening clothe and the shoes are the worst - people always seem to need to visit when I am looking my worst.

    Dogs, ah yes tomato eating, strawberry stealing and pooping yup that sums it up.

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    1. Your dogs are strawberry stealers? That's funny but frustrating! I've decided that all those magazines are simply theater productions or perhaps special effects leftover from a movie.

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  22. We have magazines in the UK like that too. But we also have 'reality' TV shows as well, where they create a perfect garden in just a few hours.

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    1. We have those shows, too, and they drive me crazy because they make gardening as simple as just digging a hole and sticking a plant in. They never correct the soil, etc. I'd love to see those gardens a year later or even a month later.

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  23. After I got to the atomic ass explosion I couldn't focus on too many more of your words, laughing tooooo hard! What a riot. My dogs have peed on most every shrub I own, making all of them have a burned side. Tammy, your garden is always magazine worthy, a true gardener's garden. Loved this posting!!

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  24. 1. This is my FAVORITE post I've read on blogger so far. Awesome and VERY funny and TRUE!

    2. Love your plant stakes. They are so cute and swirly!

    3. Glad to know my dog isn't the only one in the "multiple tag club". Looks like yours has the rabies (green), home again chip tag (yellow), and name tag (bone). Mine has those exact ones too, only his name tag is blue and he wears an extra city tag that is purple. He sounds like an old man jiggling the keys in his pocket when he runs lol. Hurray for tags!

    4. The glass marbles in your birdbath are lovely. Great idea :-)

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