Nancy Perry Graham EDITOR
This summer my dog ate my dogwood. Yep,
one day Luke, my lovable mutt, thought it
would be fun to eat half the root ball. Another
tree, gone. But I’m the one who belongs in
the doghouse. Because the real problem is
this: As a gardener, I am an epic failure.
I water too much or too little. I prune
the wrong stuff. Not knowing a sunflower stalk from an
eastern redbud, I saved the former and chopped off the
top of the latter. And then there was the bonsai tree. My
friend and colleague George Blooston—a Dr. Dolittle of
plants—gave it to me when he left on medical leave. If ever
I wanted a plant to thrive, that was it. I think George knew
its chances were slim. George was right.
My black thumb never used to bother me. My career
was thriving; my family, reasonably so. The fake trees
in my living room were a lovely, if dusty, green. And—
I’ll admit it—I liked watching my neighbors’ underground
sprinkler system go off in the rain.
But something changed this summer. It started with the
bonsai. I felt I’d let George down. And I began to wonder:
Why was every crape myrtle in my neighborhood alive
with hot-pink blossoms—except for mine? Why, despite
my best efforts at mulching and watering, were the leaves
on my new cherry trees falling off? And, most perplexing
of all, why were my
Then it hit me:
Some people actu-
ally take care of
their gardens. Not
just weeding here
or fertilizing there
TAIL OF WOE That sad stick in front of Luke, my Lab-shepherd mix, is all that
remains of the dogwood he devoured—though miraculously, my crape myrtle is
now thriving. Below left: The stone wall built by our colleague George Blooston.
but lavishing the same TLC on their plants as they do on
their family, friends, and pets. And guess what I learned
this summer? When you love your plants, they love you
back. That’s when the joy of gardening hits you.
George was a joyous gardener. He was joyous about life,
and quick to wink at its absurdities. He was also a gifted
money editor. We lost him to cancer in August. He was the
bravest person I’ve ever known.
George’s determined spirit was especially evident in the
garden wall he built, stone by stone, over the course of two
summers (see below left). Puttering outdoors was, for him,
a peaceful pursuit. For those of us who admire botanical
beauty but aren’t, like George, a natural with nature, he
also planted the seed for a story about how to grow your
own indoor garden, which you can enjoy on page 66.
Last weekend, feeling down, I tended to my trees. I spent
45 minutes in the hot sun, pruning the buds off my crape
myrtle. I didn’t expect a payoff. And then one morning,
several days later, I looked out the window to see a
wondrous sight: my crape myrtle, ablaze with color,
brilliant pink blossoms bursting forth. It had been a sad
week, but here was hope. Here, once more, was life.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: ART STREIBER; ELI KAPLAN MEIR; QUENTIN NARDI
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