Embarrassing Moments in the Garden

Jim Long shares his most embarrassing moment as a gardener.

| June/July 2005

Every year at the Garden Writers of America conference, more than 500 members meet, tour gardens, listen to programs and lectures, and schmooze about the craft and work of garden writing.

One of the most popular entertainments has become something of a tradition at the conference: karaoke night, where the music is loud, the energy high and the crowd couldn’t be more enthusiastic. Karaoke night is popular because of the absolute glee derived from seeing distinguished personalities and professionals—including television gardening personalities, magazine editors, radio talk-show hosts, newspaper and magazine columnists and garden-book authors—making absolute fools of themselves.

Last year, after karaoke had wound down, a group sat around talking about gardening and associated topics. Someone posed the question, “What’s your most embarrassing moment as a gardener?” I think she had in mind stories about the time we planted parsley and got rhubarb, or we planted the gladiolus bulbs upside down and they headed for China.

As it turned out, the answers were much more dramatic—and hilarious. One writer told of the time she’d fallen sound asleep in the shelter of a well-mulched bed of sunflowers, only to be discovered by her teenage son, who thought she had completely lost her mind.

“He actually called 911!” she said. Another writer had lost her diamond wedding ring in a patch of turnips and didn’t find it until after she and her husband divorced.

When my turn came, I paused a minute, uncertain whether I really should tell my most embarrassing gardening moment.

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