Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

That I can give you. A guide to romance…?

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATT COLLINS

I’m looking for a Boyfriend Plant,” I say to the tall, handsome nursery worker who asks if he can help me. I’d been checking him out for about a month now—no wedding ring in sight—and finally got up the nerve to make an attempt at flirting. “I think they’re usually about a foot taller than me.” I smile up at him, batting my eye-lashes. He looks at me blankly. “They can be somewhat elusive,” I continue, “but I hear they put down roots once they feel nurtured and appreciated.”

“I’m looking for a Boyfriend Plant,” I say to the tall worker.

“I don’t think we have those,” he finally responds. “I can check if you want,” he offers. Obviously my garden rake isn’t the only thing that is rusty.

My attempt at witty repartee having fallen flat, I hightail it out of there with my bag of potting soil and my bruised ego, and return to something I’m good at: gardening. (I’d run out of potting soil while planting flower bulbs. Wasn’t that the reason I drove to the nursery?)

Ah. Planting bulbs. That was something I knew how to do. You dig a hole.

You plant the bulb.

You cover it with soil.

At some future date, a flower begins to push its way out of the darkness and into the light. A simple recipe for success.

Why couldn’t relationships be that easy?

I sit down to rest on my garden wall and a ladybug lands on my arm.

Taking it as a good omen, I make a wish like I’m blow-ing on a birthday candle, and throw in a little prayer for good luck.

I pray that a nice man, who’s taller (and stronger) than me, will find my dirt-covered bare feet, with their bright pink-painted toenails peeking through, utterly charming.

Bonus points if he gets my corny jokes and clumsy attempts at making a connection.

Maybe he’ll even share my love of gardening, and will be the kind of man who likes to nurture things, like new seedlings and budding relationships.

If I’m extra lucky, he’ll know that gardens are a lot like relationships; you can’t just water them once, then walk away and expect results.

When taken for granted, both things will wither on the vine.

Until then, all I can do is to focus on the things I know.

After all, I’ve got weeds to pull, compost to dig, and a garden to get ready for Spring planting.


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