Hortense Hoelove Makes A Surprise Friday Appearance

Hortense Hoelove makes a special appearance on a hot Friday afternoon to answer more questions about gardening, gardeners, gardens, and everything related.

Dear Hortense Hoelove,

Do you ever feel like someone is watching you while you garden?

Eye-lean Gardener

Dear Eye-lean,

Watching, as in this sunflower that was watching me in my sister's garden? I think it is saying "Take me to your leader." Or do you mean watching as in garden fairies, rabbits, and birds watching you? Either way, the answer is that of course, something is always watching you while you are gardening. And listening, too. So dress nice for the garden and try not to say bad words in the garden, either. The garden fairies especially are very sensitive about foul languauge.

I'm watching, too,

Dear Hortense,

What is the proper way to support tomatoes? My sister was using cages and one of them fell over. I've enclosed a picture so you can see the cage that fell over. Next to it are some stakes that are nice and upright.
Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Dear Carol,

Sometimes when I write to you, it is like I am writing to myself. How is that? Anyway, you and I both know that staking is the proper way to support tomato vines. We also know that you grew up learning how to stake tomatoes so I can't  for the life of me understand why your sister would even try caging. However, from the picture it looks like she also staked some tomatoe vines, so she's not a hopeless cause.


Dear Hortense Hoelove,

Can you explaining gardening to me?


Dear Anonymous,

Explain gardening? Well, you see... there are these living organisms called plants... and there are these people, who call themselves gardeners, and they like to organize the plants into a space they call a garden. Then when they've organized the plants they have, they go to these places called garden centers and buy more plants to organize. Sometimes the plants don't stay as organized as the gardener would like, so the gardeners get out these tools they call gardening tools and then they prune, trim, snip, pull, hoe, rake, dig, tie up, etc. to get the plants to do as they want in these gardens. And sometimes plants try to enter these gardens uninvited - the gardeners call those plants "weeds" - and it makes the gardeners have to work to get rid of them. Many gardeners try to attract wildlife to these gardens they've organized, but then they get all mad and irritated if the wildlife eat some of the organized plants and not the weeds. Much of the time, the gardeners are hot, sweaty, dirty and tired from gardening in their gardens, but they swear they are having a great time. No one understands it completely, but there are those like Dr. Hortfreud who are studying gardeners to try to make sense of it all. And that's gardening.

From Her Own Garden,


  1. One reason that cage fell over is-no offense- that is a poor excuse for cage.:)
    I love the gardening explanation! Concise, complete and clever...thanks Hortense!

  2. What is wrong with the wildlife - they really won't stay where they're invited - awaiting further insight.

  3. Funny, my cages are nice and straight.~~Dee

  4. I've tried to explain to myself the definition of a garden. If I plant one plant, it's not a garden.
    But if I plant a bunch of plants it is.
    If I see a bunch of plants growing in a forest, it's still not a garden. If people plant a bunch of plants under trees, then it IS a garden. Then of course, some zen gardens have no plants at all.
    What is a garden? I like your explaination.

    David (Tropical Texana) Houston

  5. Stakes or cages--why are your tomato vines so short? Mine are more than 8 feet tall. (No I didn't feed them a lot of nitrogen fertilizer.) Should I have cut them off at some point? Would I have gotten more tomatoes had I done so?

    What about a tomato pruning primer next?

  6. Just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog! Keep up the great work!!

    Common Cents

  7. Ms. Hoelove, Pardon me, but dress nicely for the garden?? I have one pair of gardening pants that I try to wear most of the time, and they're usually caked with dirt and debris after an hour in the garden. I would wear make-up in the garden, but I've found that perspiration causes it to run, and the mosquitoes love it. Maybe I'm doing something wrong...

  8. Excellent synopsis of the phenomenon known as gardening. Dr. Hortfreud could not have done better.


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