The Society Considers Issues Of Identity

Greetings to all members of the Society for the Preservation and Propagation of Old-Time Gardening Wisdom, Lore, and Superstition (SPPOTGWLS or “the Society”)

Once again, we, the Society, have an issue of importance to consider, discuss, and debate while we wait for Spring to win its annual battle with the last huffing and puffing of Old Man Winter. Around here, that could be in the next few days, just in time for Easter.

Goodness, we don’t have much time, so we will dispense with the usual formalities of taking attendance, reading the old minutes from the last Society meeting, and reviewing the treasurer’s report. Trust me, as the self-proclaimed president, secretary and treasurer, when I tell you that all is in order with the Society’s business.

Let’s get right to the issue at hand, shall we?

Fellow members, have you ever noticed that some plants suffer from an identity crisis?

I noticed it when a saw the first blooms of the grape hyacinths (Muscari sp.). “Grape” hyacinth? Clearly these blooms have nothing to do with grapes. Nor do cherry tomatoes have anything to do with cherries. And don’t get me started on banana figs, which aren’t bananas at all!

But much as we are concerned with these plant identity crisis examples, and I’m sure there are more of them, and as much as we would like to help sort them out, we have no time, because we have a greater issue to consider.

It has come to the attention of the Society that some members are at a loss with how to describe themselves as a gardener. They have an identity crisis when pressed to put an adjective in front of “gardener”. No one adjective seems quite right.

“Experienced” creates expectations of omniscience related to all things about gardening and plants. Invariably someone will ask some obscure question and when you don’t know the answer they think “Ah ha! She (he) is not so experienced after all!”

“Old” sounds, well, old.

“New” sounds new. Plus “new” should not be used by any gardener who has gone through at least a complete set of seasons.

“Vegetable”? When you have a vegetable garden, it’s tempting to just call yourself a “vegetable gardener”, but this leaves out everything else that a gardener who grows vegetables is likely to have.

“Master”? Yes, that works for some, but may require an explanation as to how one becomes such a gardener.

“Hoe”? I really don’t think anyone wants to be called a “hoe gardener”.

Other adjectives that come to mind to help gardeners establish a better identity include “avid”, “dirt”, and “organic”. Or you could go with climate descriptors like “tropical”, “cold climate”, and “desert”. Or the type of flower you grow if it is roses or orchids.

But really, gardening is one of the most varied, exciting obsessions hobbies that one can have, so creating an identity as a gardener with one adjective just may not be possible. Therefore, I hereby will enter into the Society by-laws that gardeners should feel free to use as many adjectives as needed to create a proper identity for themselves.

And as the President, I’ve decided to go first in describing myself as a gardener.

I am a typical, avid, hoe-collecting, seed-sowing, composting, lawn-mowing, flower growing, experienced, weather-obsessed, blogging, dirt gardener.

Dang, I wasn’t going to talk about the weather again!

I now turn it over to the members of the Society to signify their attendance at the meeting via a comment and to note how they would identify themselves as a “gardener”.

Humbly submitted by:

Current President, SPPOTGWLS
May Dreams Gardens

P.S. The grape hyacinths have started to bloom, as pictured above.


  1. I would describe myself (today) as a follow-no-rules, try-it-all, plant and dirt gardening composter.

  2. Carol, I think they're called grape hyacinth because if conditions are perfect they emit a scent similar to grapes.

    Anyway, I simply call myself an eclectic gardener. Any other classification would be erroneous. Oh, wait. Maybe eccentric. Yeah, eclectic/eccentric. :)

  3. Uhmm. I am a developing, disabled, heat-loving, tomato growin', rose loving Texas gardener.

    Although.. Grace may have the perfect description: eclectic/eccentric!

  4. Let's see; a do-it-yourself, semi-experienced, mostly organic, no turf, gardener.

  5. I'm happy with gardener - biu then I'm a simple soul ;

    BTW I've just bought a rainfall measure - I fear I'm on the slippery slope to weather geekdom!

  6. Carol, thanks for a brilliant post. I like Nancy's "developing" one of the joys of our hobby, the day we stop developing we are no longer a gardener! I think I will call myself plant-obsessed Gardner.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  7. Trial and error gardener. Untrained but not untested. :-)

  8. Hands-in-the-dirt, natural-style, no-pesticide-using, seed-growing, bee-loving, no-till, vegetable-with-the-occasional-flower gardener.

  9. Madame President, the adejective that most aptly describes me as a gardener is Master Shoestring Gardenener. Let this be said in the minutes or any other thought wave.

  10. Such a fun post! Let's see... I'm a four season, color loving, experimental gardener.
    Oh, and my Grape Hyacinth are blooming too!

  11. This is a fun post I would have to go with all consumed to the degree of dreaming about my gardens gardener.

  12. Native plant loving, flower smelling, rock hugging, dirt gardener...thanks for asking! gail

  13. I am an avid, organic, native plant, ornamental, environmentally conscious, experienced, dry shade, dry sun, plant-collecting, foliage, blogging, informal, wild gardener. I bet I forgot something.

  14. I'm an avid, spring-loving, determined, experimental, weed-pulling gardener who loves to grow vegetables and compost anything possible.

  15. I have to come up w/something catchy so will be back in a bit.

  16. Each time I say "I'm a gardener", I'm asked "what vegetables do you grow". It so happens that I don't grow any but faithfully leave large amounts of money at the farmer's market instead. Am I a plant gardener? A perennial, shrub, and annual gardener? An ornamental gardener? I agree, it's quite a conundrum. "Gardener" would serve me well...

  17. Well, I do use one prefix often but that's only in reaction to being called a landscaper.

    I'm a [insert vulgar word] Gardener.

    I just want to keep things simple. Gardener is all I need.

  18. I agree with Town Mouse, MA, Gail, Frances, and Nancy. And probably others, but I sensed an immediate agreement with those.

  19. Love The Society! Can't even begin to think of how I'd describe myself as a gardener. Off the top of my head, I'd say I'm a disorderly and disheveled gardener with a garden full of little treasures. Happy Easter, Carol!

  20. I only say this because I get a little upset by some people I know (no names will be mentioned) that call themselves gardeners because they will go out and water the one hanging basket of petunias (that they constantly refer to as pansies) on their front porch (but only if they are visibly fainting from heat and thirst). I am an 'actual gardener'.

  21. Madame President! I second the motion that we be allowed to use as many adjectives as necessary to describe ourselves. What a brilliant idea.

    BTW, I believe that the grape hyacinth was named that due to the similarity the blossom group has to a bunch of grapes. Loosely speaking, there is a slight resemblance.

    I would describe myself as an annual perennial organic vegetable compost-making mulch-crazy daffodil-obsessed suburban wildlife habitat birdwatching gardener. If I think of any more descriptives, I'll be back.

  22. I'm a natives-loving, blogging wild-life gardener, obsessed to know lots, always searching after the meaning of those botanical, Dutch, English, German, French... names and folknames, always keen to discover some unknown folkloristic of historical fact about some (native) plant... an untidy and lazy, but overenthousiastic and impulsive listkeeping gardener...

  23. I would say I'm a experienced rose growing, veggie loving, gardener, but that doesn't mean I'm experienced about everything. There are so many new things to learn everyday, like don't cut your carex. Unlike grasses, it doesn't like it. Not at all.
    Later, Madame President.~~Dee

  24. My dear friend, I love nature too. Don't forget to visit my blog. you and all of your friends are invited. I really appreciate your support. Thanks...

  25. Rabid. Is there another word which describes the annual affliction of those of us in the temperate zones of the earth?

  26. Tee hee heee ... I'd say I'm an experiencing gardener (not experienced but experiencing). Oh that's a bad adjective. Maybe experimenting sounds better. Ok, I'm an experimenting gardener on her way towards becoming an experienced one.

  27. It is all about what day of the week you catch me in the garden....i will describe what I am by the tool in my hand......!

  28. Help! Zombies are attacking my house - they've already trampled my sunflowers and I don't know what to do. Anybody have advice on a good zombie-zapping plant?

  29. I have avid gardener on my blog description and I think it works.

    I've seen these weird zombie comments around. Wonder what's up with them?

  30. I like Frances' "untrained but not untested." On my blog description, I have my background/job experience/training and call myself a "gardener by choice."

    I give a slide talk to garden groups called "Gardening for Amateurs" because no matter how much we know and how much experience we have gardening, there is always some plant/garden area where we are an amateur. We can never know or do it all, so I like being an amateur always having something new to learn or try. And thanks to the Society for bringing this topic to the table.


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