What Is It About Gardeners?

What is it about gardeners?

What is about gardeners that they’ll wait for years for the perfect bloom on a special plant, and never question the time, attention, and space they give that plant for all those years?

What is it about gardeners that they’ll go out in the fall and take their neighbors’ bagged leaves in the early dawn hours so they can use those leaves for compost in their own garden?

What is it about gardeners that they can be perfect strangers one minute, and then upon realizing they are in the company of other gardeners, talk at an alarming pace about dirt, bugs, compost, flowers, seeds… gardening… as though they have known one another for years?

What is it about gardeners that they can rattle off the botanical name of a prized plant, but not remember the last name of the non-gardeners down the street?

What is it about gardeners that they’ll name their gardens?

I’m not sure what it is, but I recognize gardeners when I see them, by these traits and other clues.

And I’ve been reading the June-July selection of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, People with Dirty Hands: The Passion for Gardening by Robin Chotzinoff for further insight.

Robin travels around the United States talking to a variety of gardeners, some smitten with a particular type of flower, others in love with ‘playing in the dirt’, all getting their hands dirty.

Some garden for themselves and some garden for others.

And they all seem not to be able to help themselves. I’m nearly finished with the book, a good read, and just keep thinking about those questions… “what is it about gardeners”.

I’ve also read the alternate choices at various times. These books include

Otherwise Normal People: Inside the Thorny World of Competitive Rose Gardening by Aurelia Scott

Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy by Eric Hansen

Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren

These books are about gardeners who are ‘smitten’ by a particular plant, and overtaken by a spirit of competitiveness to grow the perfect rose or orchid or the biggest pumpkin.

What is it about these gardeners that they will give up virtually any other ‘life’ in their quest?

Maybe I’m too close to gardening myself to see the answer to “what is it about these gardeners”? Maybe my hands are too dirty from my own gardening?

Whatever the answers, I enjoyed reading all of these books at one time or another, reading the stories of other gardeners and thinking about some of the gardeners I know who could be included in books like these.

And reading about some of these gardeners, I feel just a tiny bit like them, like I understand them... just a tiny bit.


If you’ve been thinking about joining in the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, this is the perfect time to do so, with so many ways to do it.

It’s easy to participate. Read one of these books and write about it or write about a passionate gardener you know and post it on your blog. You have just a few days to do so before I publish a virtual “club meeting post” on July 31st with links to everyone who participated.

Just let me know when you have posted, and I’ll pick up a link to your post to include you.

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Leave a comment or send me an email. All are welcome to participate!


  1. I'm going to join soon. I'm finally settled in the new home and looking forward to reading more. I like the items you listed at the beginning of this post. I'm guilty of most of them.

    Thank you for adding me!

  2. I am still reading it! But that is a good question you ask! Can't wait to read the responses.

  3. What is it about gardeners, indeed! What is is about gardeners that they have a difficult time getting rid of gardening magazines, seed catalogs and seed packages, hummm?

    Gardening Examiner

  4. Here's a link to a post about a dear friend and her beautiful garden. I hope you enjoy it!


  5. I've been reading James Dobson's "Beautiful Madness," and I think that qualifies as insight into the "What is it about gardeners?" question, too! I am learning a few things about myself, that's for sure! lol.

  6. I have shelves in my shed filled with my old garden magazines. A friend told me that I can donate them to the local volunteer fire departments garage sale. She said that old garden magazines and books sell well. I know that I won't be attending the sale, because I'll come back with as many as I donated.

  7. I finally got my post up: http://mcgregorsdaughter.blogspot.com/2008/07/holy-jalapeno.html. And to answer your question "What is it about gardeners?" I'd have to say it's that we're more down to earth. ;^D


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