Education of a Gardener: When to scream and when to cuss

White clematis, a welcome vine in the garden
Every gardener, at some point, should learn when it is appropriate to scream in the garden and when it is better to  cuss.

First, let's address the scream.  A scream, and by scream I mean one little "eh" not a blood curdling scream that causes the neighbors to call the police, is only appropriate if you are startled or feel as though your very life, or that of your garden, is in danger.

For example, if you are looking at a lovely flower border and see a vining plant, where no vining plant should be, you should scream.  Your garden is in danger!

It is in danger of being overtaken by one of the most deadly of weeds, Convolvulus arvensis, also known as field bindweed.  Once established in a garden, field bindweed is nearly impossible to eradicate.

After you scream, and by scream I mean one little "eh" not a blood curdling scream that causes the neighbors to call the police, you need to take swift action to nip it literally in the bud.  If you don't, well, I could scream just thinking about how awful it would be.

Other reasons to scream include if you see a big ugly spider, if a snake slithers across your path, or if someone accidentally dumps a truckload of cement on your front garden.

Please note the spider, snake, and cement examples are just that, examples. They did not happen to me. And for the record, the vining plant I thought from afar might be bindweed turned out to be Celastrus orbiculatus, Oriental bittersweet, which is also a bad weed, but easier to pull out than field bindweed.

And it was a silent scream.

Now, let's discuss when it is appropriate to cuss in the garden.  And by cuss, I mean only use the gardener's cuss word, frass.

An example of an appropriate occasion to cuss is when you go out to your vegetable garden and see that the rabbits have found your edamame plants, which you left unprotected.  When that happens, you can certainly cuss, and by cuss I mean only use the gardener's cuss word, frass.
Frass! Look what those rabbits ate!
Then you go grab the plastic forks which earlier you had placed around the pepper plants to protect them from the rabbits, and put them around the edamame and hope for the best.  

Other occasions for cussing, and by cussing I mean only use the gardener's cuss word, frass, include when you are weeding in a flower border and accidentally step on or cut off a flower bud just as it was beginning to open.

Or if you finish weeding and have just put your gloves and tools away and then spy a gigantic thorny, nasty thistle hiding amongst the asters.

Or if you find that some insect has chewed off most of the leaves of your columbine.

You get the idea.  Scream when there is danger that might affect you or your garden. Cuss when you are annoyed.  Follow these simple guidelines and you'll sound like the most experienced gardener in the neighborhood, even if you just started gardening yesterday.

Then once you've mastered screaming and cussing, I'll teach you when to laugh and when to whistle in the garden.  All part of my efforts to give back, to help educate other gardeners.

You're welcome.


  1. I woke up this morning to find that raccoons had knocked over and broken my favorite birdbath/fountain. "Frass" is not the word I uttered, but I do admire your lady-gardener restraint!

  2. It is most difficult to control the scream. There often seems to be an occasion when the Frass comes out though. Thanks for the education.

  3. I have been having trouble with a darn chipmunk. He has knocked over my hummingbird feeder more times then I can count. I had to buy a new one, because it would not stay together any more. SCREAM!

  4. Bindweed came into our church garden several years ago... I want to stay friends with my Christian family, so I don't give out starts from perennials any more. Bindweed would make a saint invent new swear words.

  5. Oh my, I need to clean up my 'cuss' words!

  6. Woodchucks make me cuss - and there is a woodchuck - and babies - living on my (new) street eating lettuce and morning glories and everything. Not mine! I don't have any yet, but fortunately I had traps to lend to the gardener two houses down is the hostess. The woodchucks' fate is in her hands.

  7. The garden is really super. I like your garden so much. How is it possible. Thanks for your wonderful post

  8. Hi Carol, your garden seems really beautiful. I loved your post. Really wonderful! Keep it up!

  9. Great post! I just pictured myself in the garden practicing these techniques which you have mastered!


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