Tammy SchmittDear GardenPerfect magazine

Dear GardenPerfect Magazine…….Thank you for your latest issue of GardenPerfect. I’ve added it to the top of the Must Read pile in my bathroom. While I have great appreciation for the detailed visual trips through all the perfect gardens you’ve featured, I have a few questions for your editors.

The view from my kitchen door

Where are all the gardens that have been designed by busy, working people with plants purchased from the sale table at local big box stores, humble garden centers, and native plant sales? How do the gardeners you’ve featured deal with deer and other garden destroying mammals, fire ants, snakes, plant devouring bugs, and diseases? In the winter, have they ever had their trees watered with boiling water by someone who thought they were too cold? I know this might surprise you, but trees don’t like boiling water.

Have they ever finished planting a garden bed by porch light because they ran out of sunshine? I recently had that problem, too. I think I may have flashed a few of my night jogging neighbors while I was at it since my shirt was too big. I noticed all the gardeners you featured wore color coordinated gardening gear. Is there a store for that? Because all of my gardening clothes are a bit stained and most have holes in them. I like to think of them as well ventilated.

Honeybee on New York ironweed. Its back legs are full of pollen.

My ironweed would prefer more sun and flopped over sideways to get the point across. I now have it propped up with plant stakes and have decided it looks like modern art.

As a dog owner, I really need to ask about how they maintain such perfect gardens while also owning pets. I noticed none of their beds look like they’ve been trampled by a herd of pygmy elephants or a water buffalo with a severe case of gastritis. One of my dogs recently went on a bunny hunt through a patch of coneflowers. Since Lucy caught, ate, and then pooped out the bunny in what can only be described as an atomic ass explosion, she’s left the coneflowers alone and they are slightly less prostrate than they were last week. I apologize for my language, but when a dog who normally just eats dog food eats a bunny’s squishy parts, things get weird.

Smashed coneflower seedlings

I’m not hungry. I’ve already eaten.

I recently had several branches torn off my tomato plant. You might think this is no big deal, but it’s my only tomato plant so I’m a bit possessive. Worried it had been the victim of a psychotic vampire squirrel, I consulted a friend who advised me the creature had been much larger, but to fill the feeders, just to stay safe. A tomato hating black bear perhaps? A giant radioactive space weasel? Have the gardeners in your magazine ever had their plants mauled by a clumsy “I’m so sorry, Mom” teenager? How do their plants recover so quickly? My tomato was only safe for a few hours before being smashed again in a storm. How do the gardeners you’ve featured deal with drought, fire, floods, 80 mph winds, and afternoon temps hotter than hell?

Skipper on coneflowers

Swallowtail butterfly on coneflowers

My last question concerns the garden art you featured in your last story. I was truly impressed by the mosaic fountain created from antique tiles excavated from the ruins of Pompeii, but that doesn’t seem achievable for the average person. Today I threw some flat glass marbles into the bottom of one of my birdbaths. I know it doesn’t have the panache or elegance of the featured mosaic, but it was about a billion dollars cheaper. Just a thought.


Tammy from Casa Mariposa

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Tammy Schmitt

About Tammy Schmitt

I am a passionate middle school teacher and gardener. I've gardened in South Dakota, South Carolina, and in upstate New York near the Canadian border. My current garden, in an overdeveloped suburb near Washington DC, has been my most challenging. My desire to create a true refuge for our native birds and butterflies has helped me battle unpredictable weather and compacted clay soil. My garden isn't perfect, but it's always a beautiful escape. Read my full blog at Casa Mariposa.

8 thoughts on “Dear GardenPerfect magazine

  1. Thanks so much for the chuckles Tammy!
    Agree – some of the best-loved gardens are actually spontaneous creations – frequently out of our control. I love your wild hunting/gardening dog.
    Kim Woods Rabbidge

    • Lucy is an excellent hunter and keeps my garden mostly shrew and vole free. She’s even caught big possums (the American variety) and moles. But she often does more damage in her hunt that the victim did in theirs. I had to re-sod part of my lawn after her mole hunt. She’s also an excellent re-landscaper. If she didn’t like where I’d put a plant, she’d just dig it up and relocate it for me.

  2. Hi Lucy,

    I love it! I love your sentiments and your reality and the truth :). How the glossy pages of garden porn eye candy tease us, but then they are meant to be unattainable aren’t they? Who would actually want to be an anorexic stick insect model from the inside…who would want a pristine perfect leaf free no bee garden that was so horrendously difficult to keep “perfect” that a team of gardeners needed to be employed just to scrape the sand and shoo away insects. I love my imperfect garden and I love yours. We too have dogs and should we ever be foolish enough to let Earl “prune” our precious potted babies ever again we deserve the carnage that we get. Like crack cocaine those garden magazines mount up to haunt my thoughts and I keep feeling like “if I can just buy that watering can/pair of flowery garden clogs/linen potting shirt I am going to make it! I will elevate myself to that degree of garden stardom that my poor dirty broken fingernails have been trying to attain forever…but sadly with age comes wisdom and I have become aware of the reality that is photoshopping. Sigh. Oh well…my humble slug filled wallaby and possum chewed and chook scratched garden is my life and it might just be time to retire my subscription to English Gardens for good this time 😉

    • I love your response! The stick insect comment was perfect! There is a rather skinny celebrity who is always splashed across magazine covers prompting my husband to dub her “the stick insect”. She always looks hungry to me. I’m convinced that most magazine gardens have either been Photoshopped or are maintained by a team of professional gardeners. The icing on the cake is when the owner of the garden is shown in perfectly clean, matching garden clothes. I usually look like a bum and smell like a goat. 🙂

    • I think all pictures of perfect gardens have either been Photoshopped or show gardens maintained by a team of gardeners. Every now and then I find a dog shaped spot in between the flowers or a little furry head will pop up under a shrub. They make the garden less perfect but more real, which I find preferable. Plus, they’re great at routing out small root chewing rodents. 🙂

  3. Tammi, going by the view from your kitchen door, your garden looks about perfect to me.

    Loved the post and still laughing …. your dear Lucy!
    We too have to maintain the ” garden gorgeous” look around weather that brings smashing winds and shredding hailstones in summer regularity. Don’t have a dog here any more, but neighbouring pets like to have a trample and sniff when they visit. It’s plain bad manners to stop them, eh?
    Thanks for the flat marbles in the birdbath idea. All the dazzling light bouncing off the surface and water would put the Pompeii marble to shame, I bet.

    • Thanks! Lately my dogs have been rescuing apple cores from the compost pile and giving them proper burials in my garden. I currently have a little purple heucherella sharing a hole with a rotten apple. The marbles in the birdbath were quite pretty – very sparkly and affordable. I purchased them from a craft supply store.

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