Osmocote Advertisement

Cultivating Wayward Sprouts


I am a bad influence. And not just on would-be gardeners. Oh, no, it’s far worse than that.

I am corrupting America’s youth. Literally, as you will see.

I recently received a Facebook message from a friend, who has a daughter named Lily. He wrote, Lily, as you may or may not know, is a fairly adept writer for a third grader, and she routinely aces her school assignments. But recently she earned an F on an essay that was supposed to be about “spring.”

I could sense storm clouds brewing. My friend proceeded to describe Lily’s essay as “stream-of-consciousness stylings” (uh, oh) and how her student teacher found it “semi-comprehensible.” He went on:

So when we asked her how she came to approach the assignment that way (instead of writing a boring 3-point essay), she said “I was using Mike Nowak’s gardening column as my inspiration. He’s hilarious!”

He finished, You have a new #1 fan in Lily, age 9. And you’re partly responsible for her first F in grade school. Well done!

If I follow the logic correctly (not one of my strong suits), I think I just received an “F” on a third-grade paper. Ouch. Since it seems I am at least partly responsible for this educational carnage, I thought it might be useful to look at the offending work and perhaps provide poor Lily — and her teacher — with a little insight from that off-kilter place known as my mind.

Here’s how she begins.

Do you know what makes me sad? When it snows in spring! That and when our lilac won’t bloom and when I can’t do a backfloat without sinking! Well, enough with that negativity; there’ll be enough of that in paragraph 2…

I can already spot Lily’s first mistake. She is much too kind. I never prepare my readers for what is to follow. She continues.

Booaaaahhhhhhhh! Snow!!!!!!!! Eeeeewwwww! Bleeeeeccchh! Iiiiiiiiccccccccchhhttthhhh! In March??????? Oh, for Pete’s sake! Mr. Weatherman, you and I need to have a little quiet talk. DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE DOING? APPARENTLY NOT!!!!! BECAUSE YOU’RE PREDICTING STORMS AND WE WANT SUNSHINE! Thank you, bye. (I don’t think I’ll be able to speak louder than this all spring.)

Stop right there. I do NOT resort to manipulating font sizes to get my points across. Lily, dear, just stick to words. Like booaaaahhhhhhhh. However, I do believe you mean booyaaaahhhhhhhhh. But I quibble. Also, criticizing weather forecasters is soooo 20th Century. If it were me, I’d go after the clown who created Facebook. Continuing,

Okay, we’re definitely inhaling too much negativity. Let’s cheer up with flowers!! (Silence.) Let’s forget the flower idea. But I’ll still tell you about my lilac bush! (Groans.) La la la, I’m not listening! My tulips are thriving, and so are my . . . Ah, forget it. (Cheers.) Aaauuugghhh!!!!!

Ah, I spot an issue. Overuse of parenthetical phrases. (I avoid that, by the way.) (Really.) Moving on:

Oh, rats! I can’t even float without sinking! Oh, hi! I’m just griping about swimming class. I’m making it all up! I really enjoy it! I even make fancy dives at the end of class. We do knee dives, pencil dives, and sometimes cannonballs. Kersplash!

Now she’s just showing off. I don’t mean about writing or horticulture. I mean about swimming. Can you do a pencil dive? I don’t even know what that is! Okay, here comes the big finish.

Well, we’ve talked about the weather, swimming, and gardening. I’m running out of time so I’ll wrap up here. Good bye!

I…I…(sniff)…I’m sorry, I’m tearing up a little. I have a 9-year-old disciple! You write and write and scheme and plot and lie awake at night worrying about dangling participles and how to steal ideas for stories and sometimes you even find time to think about gardening (not too often, admittedly.) But you think that the day will never come when you will be understood by someone, anyone, and then be able to pass the torch to the next generation.

I’m all verklempt. I’m spilling crocodile tears onto my keyboard, I’m–I’m, uh, I’m on deadline. Lily, any ideas for next issue?.

categories

Espoma Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Columns
Up in the Air

There’s a reason why tillandsias are called air plants. Just don’t call them airheads.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Mike’s Holiday Hort Sing Along (Again?)

Did I ever mention that in my childhood I was severely traumatized when I happened to discover two snowflakes that were ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Time to Plant Those Bulbs

There’s a nip in the air — I wouldn’t yet call it a chill — that prompted me to rummage through the box on the back porch ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Plant for Neatniks

You know who you are. You’re the gardeners who keep your lawn perfectly edged and weed-free, the ones who maintain an ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
A Letter From the Garden Abyss

I am writing to reach out to humanity, if there is anyone left as of May 1. If you find this note, please take it to the ...


questions

We moved into a house with a lovely azalea that didn’t bloom. We thought it might have been over-pruned. Last fall we did not prune it and now it still hasn’t bloomed. I was hoping to transplant it this year, but it looks rather sickly. Shall we prune it again and give it another year? Can I still transplant it?

My Siberian iris ‘Gracilis’ plants have only one bloom per clump. I have five 3 to 5 year-old clumps that are 8 to 10 inches wide. They do not appear to be crowded. All are planted in a moist area. Why is there only one bloom per clump?

What are your three favorite “all-but-forgotten” perennials that every garden should include? Why do you like them?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement