The Enduring Optimism of a Gardener

We can’t help it, can we?  Every spring someone should tie us to the mast so we don’t succumb to nature’s siren song, buying one more plant, one more seed packet offering something delicious for the eyes, nose, or taste buds. It doesn’t matter how hard it will be to find the time to prepare the bed, or a spot to squeeze our precious new flower. It doesn’t matter that last year the deer ate our strawberries, leaves and all, just as they were starting to ripen, or that the slugs turned pretty leaves to Swiss cheese. This year…ah, this year…

This year spring has come early, or maybe it’s summer. Should we try to plant lettuce, or will it bolt too soon? Should we simply wait until fall’s cooler temperatures for the plants we would normally plant in spring? Those warm days are being followed by frost warnings. The magnolia blooms are just daring Jack Frost to turn their pretty pink to brown. So far we’ve been lucky indeed.

The greenhouse has been open wide nearly every day since the brassica seedlings were put in, and some days they had to sit out in the shade, because the greenhouse was just too hot for the early vegetables. My father is wisely restraining himself from starting his tomato seedlings, but I finally succumbed. I even bought seed for a slightly longer season watermelon. I know, I know, an early start doesn’t mean winter won’t sneak up on us early as well, but to be a gardener is to be optimistic. How else could we believe that despite the hungry crowd waiting in the wings to take our place at the table, we’ll be the ones to reap what we’ve sown?

This year I’m finally trying to grow a dry bean I had given up on. It takes a longer season to mature than we have here, so hope has been hard to find. The seed is eight years old, quite geriatric for bean seed, but it won’t get better for waiting so this is the year. My expectations are low, but a germ of hope remains. What can I say? I’m a gardener.



50 Responses to “The Enduring Optimism of a Gardener”

  1. oh i hear you, im there, im so keen to get stuff planted i know im too early but its sunny and i keep seeing offers and i cant stop myself!! I have lost some seeds already because i planted them too early, and i have plug plants coming out of my ears haha. Great blog.

  2. I have seedlings craving to be taken from the apartment up to the garden, so I HAVE to do that this weekend – AND create some shelter for them since frost is predicted for most nights next week!

    I wish it would soon be time for planting and sowing outdoors without having to engineer frost protection for plants…

    • What we won’t do for the love of plants. They’re so demanding when they’re little, but oh, the joys of summer.

      • -Don’t forget the joys of spring and autumn! Or even the joy of a crisp winter’s day… These days it just seems like summer is the one season I long for, so it’s hard to remember that woodland anemones are also worthy of admiration for the sparkle of joy they provide in a brown and grey landscape.

      • Oh, I’m enjoying the joys of spring alright, but it seems they’re suddenly on fast-forward.

  3. Exactly. exactly. exactly!!!! The garden center is like an addictive narcotic!

    The other night the low temps wiped out the early budding hydrangeas, despite the fact that I covered them. But there is some low growth on the ground that will hopefully rebound….

    • Oh, no! Sorry to hear about your hydrangeas. All we can do is try. At least the plant is still alive. We’ll just have to drink in the beauty and drown our sorrows at the garden center.

  4. Just read through several posts. Lovely!

  5. I am enjoying the blog and the beautiful photos. And yes, we want to get started early, but also worry about the final frost. Spring just started here so I think we are ready, and yes, optimistic for the new year. Hopeful for stone fruit and figs!

  6. Nice! You’ve captured the feeling so well.

  7. Never a truer word, I think you have summed up the definition of a gardener!

  8. AMEN! I’m with you 100%, The local nursery has already seen too much of me. LOL

  9. Thanks for stopping by at
    I’ve had occasional luck, with long-season legumes, by starting them early, in 4″ or 6″ pots. Not a technique for megafarming, but it gets me scarlet runner bean flowers weeks early.

  10. It also doesn’t help this need to plant that the nursery catalogs are coming out earlier and earlier these days.:) But I think you are correct that there is an inherent optimism in gardening. The fact that you plant anything at all puts you in a category of those who look to the future with hopeful expectations. I hope those expectations are fulfilled for you this year, and those bean seeds do take hold.

    • Thanks for your good wishes! Yes, the catalogs are a great temptation with their gorgeous photos and promising descriptions. How can we resist? What I find most peculiar about gardeners is our desire to nurse half-dead plants back to life. We should reward nurseries that take good care of their plants instead of neglectful places, even if the sorry plants are 75% off. Must….resist….

  11. I went crazy with flower seed packets the last time we went to the nursery. I have great plans for one very grassy, sunny spot in the back yard that is just crying out for a horde of beautiful flowers. Now if I can just talk my boyfriend into tilling up that grassy patch of ground so I can get started . . .

  12. So true. I’ve often said the only stores that are dangerous for me are nurseries and bookstores. It’s almost impossible for me to leave either one without buying something. 🙂

  13. As I sat planting seeds yesterday in my greenhouse, I was wondering why there are 24 seeds in some packets and 100 in others? I planted 8 trays of corn, and thought to myself, are you nuts? Optimistic yes, and nuts, yes too! Keeping my fingers crossed and planning on giving a bunch away! Thank you for the like on my blog!

  14. Hello there. Thanks for liking one of my blogs and yes, I know that feeling only too well. David panics if we pass a shop or a stall that has plants for sale. He just knows he won’t get away for hours when I say ‘i’ll just have a quick look. You never know, they might have something I’m looking for…’ & then I’m lost to all those growing things! All the best! Lindsay

  15. I love this! Sounds just like us, right down to the deer eating my strawberries…and roses…and tipping the birdfeeders over and dumping the seed into their mouths (true story – saw it with my own eyes).

  16. If you saw my earlier post about a week ago, you would see what an optomist I am! Maybe over 200 seeds! Lots to give away…I am excited about my seeds popping, and thank you for the like on my blog!

  17. “The enduring optimism of a gardener”. So true. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  18. Nice looking blog! I just did some planting this afternoon. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Thank you. Rhubarb is awesome. What else can you harvest for dessert so early in the year? If I try every delicious recipe no amount of hoeing will work it off, but I’m definitely tempted.

  19. You need a “love” button on this post. So true about a gardener’s unique brand of optimisim; I think that is what hooks us. Your writing is also wonderful.

  20. dedavisart Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. It’s nice to visit yours and find other kindred spirits in the gardening tribe. We are ever hopeful, aren’t we? Happy growing to us all!

  21. Boy, isn’t this the truth! Too many seeds, too little time! Good luck with those 8 year old seeds. I hope they work out.

  22. I’m actually a terrible gardener, but I love it so I keep trying. I’m always so pleasantly shocked when things start popping up in spring that half the time I don’t even care if they are weeds. They are GREEN! I do pull them eventually, but that anything lives in my garden is nothing short of a miracle. Great blog!

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