In the Garden’s Tenth Year ~ Marsha McGregor


Decide once and for all to rip out everything that repeatedly breaks your heart: the slug-riddled hostas, the azalea robbed of its bloom each year by velvet-horned deer, sickly lilies of the valley pining with thirst among the knuckled spruce roots of the false bower you call shade.

 Let go of the tulips, twisting up their lipsticks in sweet anticipation of their blind date with spring. The cold truth is that one night they will be bitten by groundhogs squeezing their huge bellies out through the gap in the shed, leaving a wake of flattened lawn and gnawed necks.

 Be practical. Build fences. Install the bland, round shrubs that predators ignore. Invest in narcissus, its unflinching beauty bleeding clear sticky poison from its hollow stem. Dig in herbs to heal raw spots in the barren dirt. The taste of their strong medicine will repel natural enemies.

 When you have rid yourself of all potential disappointment, step back and admire the perfect safety of the bed you have made.

 Then visit a nearby nursery, fragrant and steamy under hoops and glass.

 Try to leave without something vulnerable and precious in your hands, something that is opening under your nose, that will need your tender vigilance forever.

If you fail, be glad.