Or to be more precise, rose bushes.
Like a high-maintenance acquaintance, they’re prickly and painful and demand tons of attention. If I leave them alone, they’re liable to simultaneously grow out of control and die off, leaving a grotesque monster of a bush, skeletal and yet so thick I’m liable to lose the skin off of my hands while trimming it back.
I’m a hands-off kind of gardener. In part this is due to the weather where we live now. I could garden happily in New Hampshire, but Maryland summers are much hotter and more humid. Then there’s the tendonitis—I never know when I won’t be able to garden for a week or two due to my hands and arms hurting. Leave the roses alone for a few weeks and before I know it they’re snatching greedily at my husband’s coat and tie when he comes home from work. And even if by some miracle they do grow beautifully, it isn’t as though they’ll look like those elegant roses you get in the florist’s shop. Instead they have smaller flowers that look much like dozens of other, easier-to-take-care-of flowers on the market, except that you’ll have to go to greater lengths if you want these flowers to last through pests and blights.
The obvious question right now, I’m sure, is why on earth, if I hate the things so much, I have so many around the house. The previous owner, you see, was the kind of person who would spend time gardening every single day, and she just loved a high-maintenance garden (she also loved pink popcorn-painted walls on her bedroom, though, so she and I obviously are already at odds when it comes to taste). There’s a loooooong line of rose bushes out in front of the house, right along the front walkway. There’s another line of them out back.
Finally, this year I’m reclaiming some of that space. The line of bushes out back is getting ripped out and replaced with tomato plants. The ones out front will probably get replaced with something lower-maintenance next year, and in the meantime I’m just going to ruthlessly cut them back any time they put up a peep of resistance.
I’m no careful, detail-oriented gardener capable of dealing with high-maintenance rose bushes. I’m more like a gardener’s paratrooper: drop in, slash and burn, and get out again in time for dinner. Preferably one that includes tomatoes.
Today’s review is of Leslie Bilderback’s Complete Idiot’s Guide to Good Food from the Good Book cookbook.