Signs of Obsession: Twenty
Questions for Gardeners
Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Copyright 1993
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few years ago, my daughter looked at my credit
card records for the month of May. She pointed out that I had
bought no clothes, nothing for the house, nothing for her...
just lots and lots of PLANTS! "Mom," she said, "You need
help. You really should form a chapter of 'Gardener's
Anonymous.' You have totally lost your self control."
Me, addicted? Just because I should get a bumper
sticker that says, "This car stops for nurseries?"
To prove that she was wrong, I went to my favorite
local nursery, with the intent of buying "just one." I came
home with a flat or two, as usual.
I thought maybe I was alone with my guilty secret.
Then I joined the Heather Society and the Rock Garden
Society and discovered that there are many people who are
even worse than I am. (I have not (yet) quit my full time
job in order to devote all of my time to gardening.)
The theme of the winter symposium of the North American
Rock Garden Society in 1993 was "Obsession." Two of the
Watnong (NJ) chapter members, Melissa Grossman and Ruby
Weinberg, made up a self-testing questionnaire for this
meeting to measure degree of obsession with plants. The
following list takes some of their excellent observations,
some notes on my own behavior, and suggestions from a
busload of admittedly addicted Plant Loonies on the famous
week-long "One More Block" bus tour of gardens and nurseries
run by Plant Delights, Inc. I'm still collecting more items
for this list... Please suggest some by return email!
To see if you are an Obsessed Gardener, answer Yes (agree)
or no to the following:
No vacation is complete without visiting at least one
A dead plant means an opportunity to replace it with
You hang out with people who converse in Latin outside of
The nicest thing about December 22 is that the days are
You frequently risk a broken axle, strained back, or
perhaps incarceration to take home an irresistable
rock/boulder you find at the side of the road or at
After that first December snow, you rush out to shovel
snow... not OFF of the driveway, but ONTO your heathers or
other treasured but not so tough plants.
When it rains too hard to work outdoors, you read a
When you and your plants are thirsty, THEY get a drink
You have more than ten species or cultivars of any one
genus, and you want more.
You spend more money on your garden than on clothes.
In November, you are already wondering when the Spring
garden catalogues will be in the mail.
You never go far from home without your trowel and
When shopping for a house, you look at the land before
When shopping at the supermarket, supposedly for a loaf
of bread and a quart of milk, you find yourself in the Plant
department, putting irresitable hothouse beauties into your
You have the urge to water those wilting, neglected
plants in the supermarket.
For at least six months a year, a manicure would be a
complete waste of money.
You take great pride in your compost pile. You even
show it off to visitors.
The territorial imperitive:
- a. (mild) You start gardening in the rights of way in front
of, behind, or to the sides of the property you own. (In my
case, I have fenced off part of the lake... for water
- b. (advanced) You garden on your neighbor's property and
pretend it's yours
Seed stratifier's version: Your spouse looks in the
refrigerator and asks, "Isn't there anything to EAT?!"
The Couple version (Mutual Obsession:):
You give him rocks or bricks for Christmas. He gives you a
load of well-rotted manure for your birthday.
Score 10 or more: join the North American Rock Garden
Society if you don't already belong
Score 15 or more: join my chapter of Gardeners Anonymous??
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