You can lead a horticulture...

You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

-Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker never minced her words. Whether horticulture makes you think or not, I know from experience, the subject has given me pause. There’s a so-called ticking bomb for when women want babies, marriage, and so forth. I have always had a delayed — almost regressive response to each — being one of the last of my circle of friends to tie the knot. I still have no desire to have children — at least for now. Let’s just say my three younger brothers made an impact.

Horticulture seems to be no exception. After years of city life, I find myself back in my native Virginia, surrounded — practically engulfed by nature. There’s a chicken pecking outside my window, I have adopted a toothless 14-year-old cat from a local monastery (one of the nuns was severely allergic), the beloved family dog (of course!), and a variety of wildlife bounding in and out of the yard. Whether it’s baby wrens deciding to fledge one dark and stormy night, a coy hummingbird making me believe in fairies, or a bear who has been on a successful trash bender, nature, my friend, knows no bounds.

Horticulture, I could argue, is a bit tamer. There’s no denying the healing powers of walking barefoot in the dirt, planting and weeding, in other words, getting your hands dirty. The facts are there. Gardening is good for you! Just like exercise, but the question remains: who wants to do it?

My brother, an aspiring landscaper, is always in the yard, planting something — that I can never identify and nor really care to. I not only know nothing about gardening but find despite having a mother with an avid green thumb and an active Garden Club of Virginia member, I have little to nil interest in the art of gardening.

I find this at odds with my pastoral upbringing, summers spent at Nature Camp, not to mention the endless amount of mudpies I made as a child all in the company of make-believe friends. And as much as I love the outdoors, country walks and hikes, I have no real interest in a garden of my own.

Googling, “Women who hate Gardening,” yields a surprising amount of material on the subject and I can’t help but feel comforted by this discovery.

Take Anne Wareham, a columnist for the Telegraph, who penned an article on her own distaste for gardening in 2011. “I hate gardening. I have four acres of garden to make and care for practically single-handed, and the work involved is — work.”

She goes on further to question whether gardening is truly the core of the British way of life? Is it as some attest, an outlet for our sedentary computer-enslaved lives — a chance to reconnect with our primal nature and thus survive this tech-tablet obsessed world? Or is it simply just another chore? Wareham seems to think latter and I can’t help but agree with her.

The only problem for me is garden guilt. Blame it on my Catholic upbringing, but when one constantly hears about the virtues and delights of gardening, you can’t help but wonder what the hell is wrong with you. I feign interest at the local nurseries I frequent with my mother, avoid planting bulbs (don’t really know how), and water my fern once a week. That’s it.

Watching the adaption of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian drama, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, I have noticed how the controversial and somewhat psychotic Mrs. Waterford is an avid gardener. She also wants a child (at any cost mind you), but when things go sour, she takes refuge in her greenhouse, earnestly potting and planting, or what can be viewed as a substitute for being barren, or just simply pissed off.

This is not to say gardening is a submissive past-time or a substitute for a child. I would argue the contrary. Historically, it has given many women a chance to make their mark in a male-dominated world. Take the White House Rose Garden. It allowed Jackie Kennedy to commission her dear friend Bunny Mellon an opportunity to utilize her green thumb for the nation adding to her resume of American heiress, millionaire, but also gardener-extraordinaire. Or the film, A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet as the garden genius that ruffled the French Court.

Gardening can be more than an outlet which is all well and fine. To each their own, right? I find that my own is not gardening, but alas writing, a sedentary passion whose outlet tends to be drinking wine.