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February 11, 2006

Let the Garden Games Begin!

Reading about all the extreme sports in the Olympics reminded me of a piece I wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune a few years ago.

Gardeners may not have luge or skeleton or snowboarding but we still have some serious fun.

So for your enjoyment, a Musings column from April 12, 2001…

Garden This!

The recent appearance of the XFL, the latest entrant in the X-treme sports arena, gave me an idea for the Home and Garden channel: X-treme gardening shows.

For me, gardening is a blood sport. A weeding session is not complete unless I’m bleeding from some cut or gash incurred in a tussle with an errant shrub or vine. The measure of a truly successful day is the number of Band-Aids I display at the end of it.

It took only a little imagination to dream up a perfect lineup for an evening’s viewing.

Starting at 7 p.m. with “Run for the Roses.� Two teams of lean, mean gardening machines compete in a series of physical challenges. In one event, team members would run an obstacle-course relay. Contestants carry a bag of cow manure up a steep slope, dodging small children and hurdling clay pots of different sizes on the way. As each competitor completed a leg, he or she would pass the 40-pound bovine baton to the next competitor. The winner would be the first team to cross the finish line.

Another event would be a test of speed, skill and manual dexterity. As the competitors race to be the first to plant 1,000 daffodil bulbs, viewers would grimace sympathetically as the repetitive-stress injuries accumulate. In the final event, a prune-off, two competitors wrestle a wild apple tree back into fine bearing form – using only a left-handed shears and a dull pruning saw! See the suckers fly as they hack, saw and snip the tree into submission! The winning team would receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Chelsea Garden Show.

The 8 p.m. offering would feature gladiator-style hand-to-hand combat in a show called “Garden This!� At the bell, two warriors would enter a garden center from opposite ends with identical shopping lists of planting materials. They would dash around furiously to fill their carts and fend off their opponent. (Each, of course, wearing protective kneeling guards, wide-brimmed hats and thick leather gloves.)

Just imagine the commentary: “Here comes Diane from aisle seven. She’s closing in on Lucinda like a heat-seeking missile. There’s a hip check, a cart-ram, and yes! Diane has the Verbena bonarienses and she’s moving on. But look, Chet, Lucinda has drawn her Good Grips trowel and is lunging at Diane. Watch as Diane fends off that blow with her dibble. What pluck! Oooh, that had to smart. She should have just handed over the Purple Wave petunias quietly.�

This stylized Battle at Bachman’s would be prime-time pleasure for sure, but it wouldn’t be for the squeamish.

The final show would be the reality-based “Survivor: The Back Yard.� A motley crew would be thrown together to design and plant gorgeous perennial borders in that most hostile of environments: a Zone 4 suburban back yard with deep shade and clay soil. As passions and tempers fester among the hosta and heuchera, members of the Plumbago tribe would be voted off the island bed until only one survivor remained. The winner would get either $1 million or Smith & Hawken deck furniture, whichever is cheaper.

OK, OK, maybe this is a little extreme. But with such a short growing season, we scarred and battle-eager X-treme gardeners will do just about anything to get our fix.

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits� by Sir Roy Strong. Photos of the British royal family from the 1930s on.

Listening to: “Jewels of the Sun� by Nora Roberts. It’s fluff but I get to listen to Irish accents while driving to and from work.

Graham’s current favorite: He has moved on another series of chapter books – the “Horrible Harry� series by Suzy Kline.

Remaining Garden Chores

Start reading through those garden catalogs that are piling up and make some decisions!

Clean out my gardening tote. It’s filled with old plant tags, clods of dirt and other detritus.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

While watching a commercial that ran during the Super Bowl in which a man walked obliviously down the street while NASCAR racers whizzed by, a baseball was hit toward the screen, and other sports activities occurred, Graham said, “Well, you sure don’t see that every day.�

Posted by maasx003 at February 11, 2006 5:59 PM | Family | Gardens