Death, Weeds, and True Confessions


Social media sites are packed with gorgeous photos of thriving, healthy plants.   Blossoms are vibrant.  Delicate fronds are graceful.  Fruits and vegetables are blemish-free.  Rows are surveyor-straight.  There isn’t a single weed in sight.  Everyone has a green thumb but you.  You envy those photos and hang your head in shame.

weeds between garden stones

weeds between garden stones

Your thoughts turn to developing new hobbies.  Stamp collecting?  Geo-caching?  Bird watching?  Those have to be easier and less shame-based, right?  But before you lay out cash for new books or gadgets, I have some advice, “Don’t turn in your trowel just yet”.

Whether you are a budding gardener or someone who has been tending to plants for decades, there is one unspoken, but universal truth.  We all kill plants.  Lack of water.  Not enough sunlight.  Over-fertilizing.  Unchecked pest population (aphids or spiders mites anyone?).  Or just plain forgetfulness.  We are human and these sorts of thing happen.

It is time for a true confession and peek-behind-the-curtain of perfection.  You see, I have a horticulture degree.  I know how things grow (or are supposed to) in the plant kingdom.  There are years of industry experience in my back pocket.  I have all the proper credentials and pedigree.  I shouldn’t kill plants, but I do.  And here is the peek-behind-the-curtain part…everyone kills plants.  You just don’t see it because we don’t post photos of our failures and as a result dear public, you have the false impression that every single seed, plant, fruit or blossom grown in your garden will be stunning.

My horticulture sins are many.  They include but are not limited too:

  • Fertilizing too much
  • Planting too deep
  • Ignoring insects for too long
  • Letting weeds grow in my yard
  • Pruning too many roots off transplants
  • Watering too little
  • Setting plants out when it was too cold
  • Dropping a tray of newly seeded pots
under watered plant

under watered plant

With such a list of sins, you may think I have a brown thumb.  But in all honestly, my thumb is quite green.  The list merely represents years of experimenting in the backyard garden.  As all gardeners know, your garden is never finished.  Every year, there is something to tweak: moving plants, trying new varieties, experimenting with irrigation timing, and honing organic gardening practices.

As much as I would love to show you fabulous photos from my garden, it would not be a fair representation of my own shortcomings…. hence my true confession.  I freely admit that my plants must survive on benign neglect.  It is not my intention to deliberately do in my chlorophyll-filled friends, but mistakes happen.

Gardeners, I encourage you to garden with passion and joy.  Try new varieties.  Move some plants around to see where they do best.  Practice organic and/or sustainable gardening.  Deal with garden pests in a timely fashion.  Water when plants need it.  But above all, forgive yourself if something dies.  It is part of gardening.  Along the way, take photos of your successes and compost your mistakes.



20 responses »

  1. I love this post! Especially since I am just getting started in building garden beds and improving my backyard. There has been trial and error, good decisions and bad but I start each spring with a new vigor and vision to start something new and expand upon what I have started building. Thanks for the encouragement not to get frustrated

    • Thank you! As gardeners, we have all experienced the same things… but folks don’t publicly talk about their failures. I hope you find encouragement in our blog. Now go out there and garden with passion!

  2. Fabulous! From someone who means well but forgot to have her potted garden watered while away for the exact week the sun decided to shine unrelentingly – thank you! Back to the drawing board 🙂

    • I have had my share of failures. Seedlings not watered, irrigation zones forgotten in the ‘off’ position, seedlings planted too deep…the list goes on. Given that our area is just beginning to get ready for spring, I thought this would be a great time to confess my gardening sins. And those photos really are for my own yard.

      • I am heading deep into Autumn, but still harvesting lettuce and spinach from my first attempt at container gardening in this very tiny courtyard garden. Next spring I am hoping to go vertical. Your fb page is a great favourite of mine 🙂

      • I will be thinking of you as I rake away the last of leaves from fall. Our seedlings are just coming up and we are still a few weeks away from fresh lettuce and spinach, but I can’t wait. I am tempted to make/find something that I can use for some vertical gardening. Thank you for the kind compliment.

  3. I too have a BS in Horticulture and at least 4 decades of gardening experience. I kill something every single year. I have weeds every single year; especially now that I’m in my 5th decade and don’t have the energy to weed for 8 hours straight. 😉 Good for you, Connie, that you ‘fessed up as we all should!

    • Thanks Deb. We all have our gardening sins, but that is just part of gardening. I simply survey the garden, take a deep breath, and continue on. Confession is truly good for the soul 🙂

  4. So very true. Gardening/growing plants continues to teach us many things. And just because a way of planting, or tending a plant worked last year doesn’t mean the same outcome will happen this yr but that is also what makes the ‘hobby’ (I call it passion) of sowing and growing all the more fun 🙂

    • Over the years, I have learned many things and much of that knowledge has come at the expense of some plants. But I hope that what I have learned, has saved countless other plants. 🙂

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