Pardon My Garden : Classic Garden Fails

Mountain Bluebird Farm
Mountain Bluebird Farm

We all know and love those perfect gardens people have, whether they house flowering begonias or ripe tomatoes. But we’re not celebrating those; we’re touting  classic garden fails that have struck our resident not-so-green thumbs. Following are a few we’ve managed to…unearth.

Fairview Fiascos

Town’s Fairview neighborhood doesn’t offer a great view, but a fair one. The same could be said for its gardens (excluding the beauty manicured by Irene Nelson). Sheryl Uhlmann offers this garden fail: “I planted a shrub on the grave of my dog, Frank, and then my new dog, Mogli, trotted over and ate it.” She adds that for her, gardening “is a cycle of violence for me every spring. And while I’m trying futilely to garden, my friends are getting stronger on their bikes.”  

Neighbor Cindy Arnis has a similar dog-eating tale: “I planted a crab apple tree and told my family how big and beautiful it was going to be, and then my dog came over and chomped it.” 

Birds of a Feather

Six years ago, Beth Summerfield and her fiance planted their first garden, with great success. “We were so proud of that little box of dirt with greens and herbs,” she says, touting meals made from fresh-grown veggies. All was fine until their cat, Sully, sullied the soil. The farming feline loved to dig in the garden bed, and all their efforts to shoo-it away failed. Then, at the end of the season, they found a little gift from their sly visitor. “We were pulling up the plants and right under them was a dead, decomposing bird,” she says. “It must have killed and buried it without us knowing.”

All’s Well that Ends Well

Sometimes, all’s well that ends well…even if there’s not a well. So learned Sydney Ellbogen and Noah Price, who recently purchased Mountain Bluebird Farm. “It turned out we didn’t have a source of water on the property,” says Ellbogen. “Not even in the house.” So they got creative. When someone from Craig’s Roto-Rooter heard about their parched property, they delivered a 6,000-gallon tanker of water to them, and even a spare tank as a backup. “It was an interesting way to start our business,” says Ellbogen.

The Early Bird Gets the…Storm

No one ever called Julia Hebard a green thumb. But she still tries hard every year, no matter the might of Mother Nature. “One year I went out of my way to plant early only to see it snow two feet and destroy everything,” she says. And when she does get things growing, it’s a selective menu. “I’ve always only been able to get five things to grow—beets, radishes, spinach, kale and rhubarb,” she says. “Nothing else ever even comes out of the ground for me.” (Editor’s note: Invite us over when everything but the kale is ready.)

garden fails

Gardening Grom 

“I had my friend’s 3-year-old daughter, Stella, over and we were planting our raised-beds. I outlined how to do everything: digging holes so far apart and so deep, carefully burying seeds, watering cycles and everything. But she just threw fistfuls of heirloom spinach seeds like confetti, pushed over a 5-gallon bucket of water, and massaged the mud, up to her elbows. And she laughed the whole time. Four years later, that bed is the best thing growing, all from that first reckless planting day.” 

—Roddy Beall

Iceberg Lettuce

Hall Gear founder Peter Hall is slightly better at supping than installing sprinklers. “A few years ago I made a super cool sprinkler and heating system for our raised-bed greenhouse, and then went and planted a bunch of seedlings in the spring,” he says. “But that night it froze and the sprinklers went on, but not the heater. In the morning, everything was literally entombed in ice; I had killed them all. They didn’t even last one day.”


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