Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

G is for . . . Gardening (Can You Dig It?)


After a long, painful winter — followed by a mocking tease of spring — summer finally decided to announce itself a few weeks ago. Motivated by the unexpected appearance of sunshine, my neighbors immediately set to work — digging, planting, fertilizing . . .  whatever people who garden tend to do. Soon, we were surrounded on all sides by lush, vibrant flowers, stretching triumphantly into the air like Jack’s beanstalk reaching toward the sky. Everywhere we looked, there were bursts of fragrant petals, explosions of loud color, eruptions of lush vegetation — all making our apartment building look like something out of Better Homes and Gardens.

And then, of course, there was our yard.

Our sad little yard, with the kids’ half-broken sled leaning defeatedly against a half-broken chair. Our yard, with forgotten toys strewn carelessly across a neglected field of weeds. Our yard, still bearing the ravages of winter.

Adding insult to injury, our home is near a train station, so every day commuters would stroll by, admiring the colorful garden to our right, the emerging vegetables to our left . . . and ignoring the eyesore in between. Clearly this would not do.

The kids along for the ride at Home Depot.

The kids along for the ride at Home Depot.

Announcing to my husband that the kids needed to learn about the wonders of agriculture — pronto — I packed them into the car and took off for Home Depot. Unfortunately, upon arriving at this gardener’s paradise, I quickly made the same discovery I make every year: I know nothing about gardening. As such, my daughter and I did our best to wing it, basing our shopping decisions on the following highly technical criteria.

1. Color. Clearly, the best flowers are pink flowers, as any five-year-old girl can tell you. This year, blue flowers have joined the list of acceptable floral hues, thanks to the fashion choices of Frozen’s Elsa. Somehow, Mommy made a case for yellow and red, which were grudgingly added to the cart, after a lengthy negotiation (and threats that Mommy “will turn this car cart around”).

2. Toddler resistance. Another factor in planting the perfect garden is choosing flowers less likely to attract the destructive forces of our resident one-year-old. Any plant that grows to toddler eye level is in imminent peril. A flower may be able to survive eight hours of scorching sunlight; five minutes with a toddler, and it’s history.

3. Expert endorsements. Finally, when in doubt, I resorted to vague recollections and random hearsay. The conversation went something like this:

Mommy: Let’s get marigolds.

Daughter: I don’t like them. They’re not pink.

Mommy: I heard they’re an easy, low-maintenance plant.

Daughter (skeptically): Who told you that?

Mommy: Umm . . . someone on Facebook, I think.

Daughter: Do they know a lot about flowers?

Mommy: Yes, they know everything about flowers. They are the ultimate flower expert. They could write a book on flowers. In fact, I think maybe they did.

Daughter (relenting): Well . . . they’re not pink, but OK.

Mommy puts marigolds in cart, trying to remember if random Facebook commenter actually recommended impatiens . . .

GardenAfter a harrowing car ride home, trying to keep aforementioned marigolds from ending up on my lap, we finally arrived at the site of our future garden. After much digging, and a merciful “gardening intervention” by our neighbor, said flowers made it into the ground. Only time will tell how long these poor flowers can survive our lack of skill, knowledge, and (let’s be honest) interest. But for now, our yard looks slightly less pitiful to the commuters walking by it.

And, really, that’s the point, isn’t it?

For more Mommy madness, check out Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders, and Absurdities of Motherhood, available at and Apple








  1. My yard is all shade, so nothing grows in my space of the world. Thank god for the farmer’s market so I get buy fresh produce.

  2. if i ever move into a house with a garden….

  3. I wish you well, No plant or bunch of flowers have survived my care. My neighbors all seem to have green thumbs and I hate them all. But, your kids will enjoy the mommy activity-well, at least for a little while and maybe that neighbor will continue to help out.

  4. I live in a apartment so I don’t have a yard to garden. I keep telling myself to get some pots so I could start planting things. I just got to remember to water so I don’t kill off the plants, LOL! I’m sooo not the green thumb person.

    • We tried gardening when living in our fourth-floor walk-up, before having kids. We put some pots on the balcony and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, I think we forgot the water part. Hopefully this will go better! LOL! Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. I hear you. I say get a cactus. Although I’m pretty sure we killed one of those too… Thanks for stopping by!

  6. My kids love to “work” in the garden with me – by whcih they mean dig and dump dirt all over. I’m not a great gardener myslef, but over the past 5 years I’ve killed enough things that everything surviving is super strong and kid-proof. This year I let the kids plant seeds for mammoth sunflowers by the swing set. They LOVE watching how quickly they grow. Almost as tall as my 4-year-old already, and supposed to reach 8 feet!

  7. I think it is great the kids got involved.. we as adults have red thumbs.. so whatever we plant dies..

  8. Too funny. Marigolds are super easy, so you made a good choice. I plant mostly produce in my garden spaces, but marigolds are great tomato companions. I didn’t do a good job pulling the plants from the garden at the end of last year, so this year I got a bunch of marigolds that grew from the seeds of last year’s plants.

  9. Oh, we need to work on our tiny little yard too. I am so *not* looking forward to doing yard work with a toddler.

  10. I followed your blog, as this is EXACTLY what I deal with lol
    Love it. At least I’m not alone 😛

    Stopping by to say hi from the Dish-

  11. I love this! I don’t do as much gardening as I would if I were home more. But, I feel lucky in that we live in an area with quite a bit of natural moisture that allows some pretty plants to grow with little effort. Here’s a trick I use to spruce up smaller areas: silk flowers! They are cheap at the Dollar Store, look pretty, and when they fade out you can replace them with little money or hassle. I even “plant” them in real dirt, and I think they look just fine. I have a mix of real and faux, and for this single mom, it works. :)

  12. Gardening is so much fun – I love getting deep in the soil.

    I help out with my parent’s landscaping in their front yard. It’s come a long way, and I love when everything sprouts in nicely. Last week, we bought a moonflower plant at the farmer’s market. It only blooms at night. We immediately planted it, and that night, a large bloom came alive. They are so showy!

    If you have room, I highly recommend butterfly bushes…they really bring in the Monarch butterflies.

    Also, maybe your daughter will like ‘bleeding hearts’ – they are pink and so interesting to look at.

  13. There are brown thumbs…even black thumbs… then my thumbs LOL I am fortunate that my husband is really a good gardener, so I’ll encourage him to read this post so he can get started. He will really enjoy that.

  14. I love that your kids are helping you in the garden – it is such a huge learning opportunity!

  15. That’s a great idea to keep the toddlers in mind when picking out the flowers. I had never thought about that before!

    • That’s all I think about when shopping for anything. Will my toddler eat this towel? Will my toddler eat this book? Will my toddler eat this awesome designer shirt I found at an outlet store. Sigh. Life with toddler :)

  16. Gardening is one thing I regret my parents didn’t taught me about…it took me awhile to appreciate it and now I am dreaming of my own backyard of herbs

  17. ha! cute! Yeah, I started gardening 2 years ago for kinda the same reason: I wanted to “entertain” my kid. But I knew absolutely nothing about it. Now, I fell in love with it and just finished an official master gardening class.

  18. I love my new container gardens – with PINK flowers as well!!!

  19. Good sales pitch on those marigolds! 😉 I think it’s perfectly lovely!

  20. I get it about the gardening. My friends have these beautiful gardens and I have a few perennial flowers and perennial herbs that gratefully pop up on their own. Otherwise , we are not great waterers. I think that is part of the problem.

  21. Doing toddler yard work is hard hard hard! I so get it with gardening!! I want a beautiful garden though!

  22. Love that interaction between you and daughter. So true! Pink is very important. I am just getting my thumb more green this year!! I just put up a post today about benefits of gardening and a little project I am working on. Love gardening and working at becoming better at it!! Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks! I checked out your post…your gardening project is very impressive! I think you’ve officially upgraded to Advanced Gardening when you’ve whipped out the chainsaw :) If you get a chance, I’m hosting a Manic Mondays blog hop at Hope to see you there! Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Stopping by from Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Great garden!

  24. love the idea – i would have to do mine on a container gardening basis (living in a one-bedroom apartment and all)…


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