Signs of Obsession: Twenty Questions for Gardeners
Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Copyright 1993
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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:

  1. No vacation is complete without visiting at least one garden.
  2. A dead plant means an opportunity to replace it with something new.
  3. You hang out with people who converse in Latin outside of church.
  4. The nicest thing about December 22 is that the days are getting longer.
  5. 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 construction sites.
  6. 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.
  7. When it rains too hard to work outdoors, you read a garden book.
  8. When you and your plants are thirsty, THEY get a drink first.
  9. You have more than ten species or cultivars of any one genus, and you want more.
  10. You spend more money on your garden than on clothes.
  11. In November, you are already wondering when the Spring garden catalogues will be in the mail.
  12. You never go far from home without your trowel and plastic bags.
  13. When shopping for a house, you look at the land before the kitchen.
  14. 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 cart.
  15. You have the urge to water those wilting, neglected plants in the supermarket.
  16. For at least six months a year, a manicure would be a complete waste of money.
  17. You take great pride in your compost pile. You even show it off to visitors.
  18. The territorial imperitive:
  19. Seed stratifier's version: Your spouse looks in the refrigerator and asks, "Isn't there anything to EAT?!"
  20. 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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