Tuesday, October 11, 2011



     I was recently heckled at a ladies' gardening club. 
   "What about the weeds?" An old woman narrowed her eyes in contempt, as if I had spoken unholy words.
    "I'm sorry?" I asked.
     "What about the weeds I said!"
     "What would you like to know about them?"
     "You used the word "natural."  A natural garden will just fill up with weeds."
     I rewound my thoughts.  "Yes, good point, a weed management program is necessary to maintain any sort of garden.  I am speaking today on garden design that is not formal.  "Natural" does not mean you allow the weeds to take over."
     She said no more but her expression did not convey satisfaction.  Perhaps she was just displeased with the lunch options.
     I concluded my lecture without further complaints, although another woman left early (not before noisily bundling some brownish cookies into a paper napkin) and there was a couple in the back row who chatted furiously throughout, their heads bobbing like a pair of tweedling sparrows.
     Public speaking is not without entanglements.  Many people I know are terrified of facing a group and opening their mouth at the same time, insisting that they'd rather take a sharp stick in the eye, but giving a horticulture presentation is one of my favorite things to do.  The process combines some of my best creative skills:  writing, photography, verbalizing ideas, and sarcasm.  
     Crafting an engaging garden lecture is no different from telling a good story, as long as the story is told by someone who is recommending horse shit, not selling it.  
     Over time, gardeners naturally become good skeptics.  They've heard a zillion claims and tried as many gimmicks.  Say "Meadow in a Can" to a room full of knowing gardeners and you are guaranteed to get a laugh. 
     I once attended a garden convention where a man was marketing a "microbial caffeinated soil enhancer." 
     "Why caffeine?" I asked.
     "Because it wakes up the beneficial bacteria and gets them off to a fast start."
     There was some horseshit I wasn't buying.

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1 comment:

Helen said...

Thanks for the chuckle; loved the added sarcasm as one of your skills. Helen