Types of Wanna Be Gardeners

In response to my recent posts about hiring a landscaper to do some heavy duty digging, my youngest sister commented, "Soon it will become easier and easier to let others do this and that, and before you know it, you'll be a porch potato gardener."

Was she accusing me of getting lazy about doing my own gardening?

I assure you that this is the only "potato" on my porch, an ornamental sweet potato vine, Ipomoea batatas 'Sweet Caroline Bronze'.

My sister's comment does remind me that there are several types of "wanna be" gardeners, including:

The afore-mentioned "Porch Potato Gardener". A person who sits on their porch and mostly watches as others do the gardening, including everything from mowing the lawn to mulching, planting, and trimming. Perish the thought that I should ever become such a gardener!

The "Point and Tell 'em Where to Plant It Gardener". A person who gets off the porch and out in to the garden but doesn't do the actual work. They let others do all the dirty work, and then they follow along a few months later and delicately cut a few flowers to take inside. These people tend to read all about plants and know what they want in their garden and where they want it, they just let others do the actual planting. They have no grass stains on their jeans.

The "Plant and Fizzle Gardener". A person who gets all wild-eyed and garden-happy in the spring and spends time planting annuals and filling containers with all kinds of plants, but then loses interest and fizzles out like a dud firecracker around the 4th of July, when it starts to get all hot and buggy outside. These people might also own boats and campers and just end up leaving the garden right around the time when it needs some attention to make it through the summer.

The "Plant and Vegetate Gardener". A person who is similiar to the "Plant and Fizzle" gardener except they plant up a big vegetable garden, but then let it be overtaken by weeds and rabbits and never end up harvesting anything that they can eat. I think this is the kind of gardener that homeowners' associations are trying to stop when they put in their covenants "no gardens".

The "Wrong Season Gardener". A person who sees tulips in the spring and searches garden centers for tulips to plant right then. They don't know enough about plants to realize tulip bulbs are planted in the fall. However, isn't it nice that the nursery industry is accomodating them by now selling pots of tulips ready for spring planting?

The "Too Small Gardener". A person who has the right idea but for some reason every bed and plant border they dig is too small or too narrow. They are enthusiastic but don't think on a big enough scale. They may dig a planting strip in front of their house that is only a foot wide, and if they mulch around trees, they do so with a ring of mulch that extends out six inches from the trunk of the tiny little tree they planted. This is probably someone who can be 'saved', who can be coached and mentored to become a real gardener.

I suspect that any person reading this post is NOT one of these types of gardeners. You all are enthusiastic gardening geeks who do most of your own gardening (as long as you are physically able to do so).

But every once in a while, wouldn't it be nice to sit on a bench on the porch and watch someone else do the heavy lifting and digging?


  1. The last couple years I have given in to having help removing sod and planting or digging out bushes! It's hard to let go but foolish to do more than you should physically. I still do everything else myself and will as long as I'm able.

  2. Carol, that's what husbands are for! My problem is that I can't sit there and watch him struggle with something without pitching in and taking twice as long to do the same heavy work. At least we laugh a lot while we work.

  3. The bench looks inviting if I could just finish the watering and pull that weed over there and then deadhead the coneflowers and then...and so on, and so on,...

  4. Carol, I really need to know: What did you do before you had a garden blog with which to entertain people? Are you one of those writers whose decendents will eventually find trunkfuls of manuscripts that they will instantly turn into best-selling books packed away in your attic, or what?! :)

  5. I used to be the Too Small gardener and sometimes still am.

    And Plant and Fizzle gardener is a little too close to the truth for comfort . . .

  6. Ooops, guilty of being a "plant and vegetate gardner". Somehow the vegetable garden always gets away from me. Am I drummed out of the garden blogger corps?

  7. I love "porch potato". Too cute!
    I'm guilty of being a "plant and fizzle gardener", especially when I lived in the south. I am fair complected and allergic to the sun so I try to avoid it. (Is that a good enough excuse?)

    I'm not a "too small gardener", because I usually bite off more garden that I can manage.

    The green bench is beautiful. I believe that is the most attractive colored bench I've seen.

  8. I think I'm a 'head turned by a pretty plant gardener' with a garden full of passing fancies, aching for a little more structure (I'm working on that!).

  9. There are days I could use some help, only because my aching body and its assorted ailments sometimes get the best of me. My longsuffering spouse is a tremendous help, because he mows and whippersnips and in the spring he even edged some of the beds, plus he lifts anythhing really heavy. I'm the 'planted more than I should have' gardener, but I gotta do that in order to write about new and different plants. So I tell myself...

  10. I guess we all worry about what will happen when we can't do the work we do now...I worry about who will prune my privets and not step on the "good stuff" growing under them. Sometimes I think I should start getting the garden ready for when I can't do as much...and then I end up buying something on impulse and having to expand a bed a little and on it goes...

  11. Who knows anythings possible. But I will most likely do all the heavy lifting, digging etc. In the gardening projects.

  12. Your descriptions are hysterical...I find the people who sit on the porch while others work a mystery. I don't think I could do that without feeling like a lazy piece of scum.

  13. OH, I'm so busted....I'm the plant and fizzle gardener...

    BTW...Carol has always had a gift for writing, but has never done anything with it. Maybe we can encourage her to actually write something and publish it...

  14. It was fun reading this Carol. I know someone that fits all of the different gardeners that you described. I have even gone through an evolution of several of these on my way to being a Gardening Geek. My husband says I have a ten acre imagination for our 1/4 acre suburban lot.

    Lisa at Greenbow

  15. Sisters sure know what buttons to push to get our dander up don't they ?

    I like to do as much of the gardening work as I can. I'm afraid that I'll have to hire someone to move my Wisteria standard this Fall because it is too big for me to handle and I'm still recovering from foot surgery .

    Your post was hilarious and I'm sure than many of us recognize how close we come to some of the types you described.

  16. Ok, I'm guilty as sin. I confess. We made the mistake of hiring a company to make garden beds for us and plant evergreens. The job was too big for our backs. They did a horrible job. We finished it and it's still a work in progress. And, I'm one of those "Too Small Gardeners" but I'm getting better.

  17. Carol used to write for the high school year book (many eons ago). Does that count as 'published works'?

  18. I love veggie gardening and do very well at that, but I have a tendency to totally ignore my perennial bed. I never deadhead anything, and I don't water it. There are 8 bags of mulch in various places in that bed, which have been waiting since June to be spread out. We did remodel our bathroom this summer, though, which took priority.

    I'll expect another stunning patch of rudbeckia next summer.

  19. Oh, if only I had the money to hire someone to do the heavy work. So far we are fit enough to manage it on our own. But sometimes I wonder what on earth possessed us to want to have two whole acres and to put in a vineyard in addition to the vegetables and the flowers???

    The key to making new beds is lasagna gardening. It takes much of the heavy work out of the equation.

  20. Jean... I agree, it is never good to attempt something that you know you physically can't do. No sense getting an injury and then not being able to do anything in the garden.

    Heather... Yes, it is great to have someone to help, who will laugh at the funny things gardeners try to do.

    Layanee... I know what you mean. My bench is "gently used" these days. Too much gardening to do.

    Blackswamp_Girl... No trunkfuls of manuscripts here, just a garage full of gardening tools and shelves full of books. That is one of the nicest comments I've every gotten, thank you!

    Kathy... Knowing is the first step toward conquering. I used to be a Too Small Gardener. I think every gardener starts out that way.

    Ki... You can stay in the garden bloggers' corp because at one time I think we all were/are these types of wannabe gardeners.

    Robin's Nesting Place... Thanks for the compliment on the bench. It was a "country blue" when I bought it and I repainted it a few years ago. I think many of us fizzled a bit around here this year, with twice as many days above 90 degress than normal!

    Ottawa Gardener... Aren't all of us plant freaks like that? I'll have to remember that one.

    Jodi... How wonderful to have a built in excuse for getting too many plants!

    Leslie... I agree, just keep planting, when the time comes that you need help, you'll figure out something. No sense cutting back on the gardens too soon.

    Curtis... Good for you!

    Me... Glad you enjoyed the descriptions. Who knows how the mind of a porch potato works?

    Sister with the Homestead... Yep, you are busted, but thanks for the nice compliment.

    Lisa at Greenbow... I like that, ten acre imagination for a quarter acre lot!

    Carolyn Gail... Yes, those sisters... and you are right that we all walk that fine line when we garden.

    Mary... You know I'm thinking about hiring a landscaper, but given your experience, I might have to rethink that, or make sure to get some good references.

    Eleanor... Yearbooks count!

    Daria... I've seen those gardens with bags of mulch laying here and there for months on end. Too funny!

    Thanks all for the kind words and comments!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  21. Carol,
    You don't seem like the "porch potato" type to me. I think you should NOT feel guilty about having someone else do a bit of the grunt work. Nope, not at all. You already do mre in your garden than many people who call themselve gardeners. ;-)

  22. Healingmagichands... Yes, there are tricks to make gardening easier, if we think about it. Lasagna gardening is certainly one of them.

    Dirty Knees... Thanks, I'm still considering someone to come in and dig those beds. Then all my time can be spent planting!

    Thanks for the comments,
    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  23. Plant and Fizzle here, Carol. By the 4th of July I'm so done with working in the garden, after that I just look at it and read about other people laboring in their gardens.


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