Adding yet more plants to the garden.

Adding yet more plants to the garden.

The longer I garden, the more I realize that this wonderful pastime does not work well with Mother Nature. We wage war against her creatures: deer, woodchucks and rabbits. Some of us resent the occasional rendezvous with snakes, and we see red when we encounter two nasty weeds that have no excuse to exist, pokeweed and nutsedge.

Yet, we wrap ourselves up in virtue. And this has caused me to contemplate the seven deadly sins. Much to my horror, I found I was guilty of exhibiting lust and greed, so I’m now turning my attention to gluttony, sloth and envy.

It is easy to confuse gluttony and greed, but the difference is really quite simple: Gluttony refers usually a failure of self-control when it comes to food or out-of-control behavior whereas greed indicates an unwillingness to share coupled with a compulsive desire to collect. Obviously, there is a small area where these two deadly sins interconnect.

I am not a vegetable gardener. Most vegetable gardeners grow far more than they can consume, ending up pleading for someone to take some zucchini off their hands. When tomatoes ripen, many gardeners bring the excess as house presents to their friends.

“At least I am innocent of gluttony,” I told myself — and then I remember my jalapeños.

You see, I have a thing about jalapeños. I like their look, I like their taste (well, the ones that taste like jalapeños, not those awful things that lack heat), and I like their size. I tuck them in and among my sun perennials and happily pick them for three months. However, I usually end up planting seven or so plants, far more than I (or my friends) can possibly consume. And, I have discovered that not everyone relishes a good jalapeño. This obviously is a case of gluttony.

Sloth appears sometime in the early fall when my attention wanders. Frankly, I begin to tire of the garden and its constant demands. I want a day off — in fact, I’d like a week off. However, weeds grow when the weather turns cooler, roses require deadheading and it’s time to mulch those plants most vulnerable to the winter chill soon to come.

When the first frost arrives, I usually shout, “Hallelujah!” I even don a bathrobe instead of jumping out of bed to immediately put on my gardening clothes. Winter chores are not nearly as pressing as the summer ones, so sloth enters my daily schedule, only I become horrified at the return of the winter weeds.

Ah, envy — surely this is an emotion we have all encountered. Have you ever visited a famous garden and thought to yourself, “I’d love to have this garden.” Never mind that it takes an army to keep it in shape. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the creativity — and the resources — to have a Sissinghurst or a Reynolda?

My case of envy arose when I visited Montrose in Hillsborough. Nancy Goodwin has so many incredible plants but one stopped me in my tracks: Rosa roxburgii, a chestnut rose, that is actually a 15-foot tree. I knew I wanted a Rosa roxburgii more than anything else in the whole wide world (a slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean). A year later, Nancy supplied me with a small chestnut rose, assuring me it would eventually become a tree.

Readers, I have a sad confession: My gardening skills did not equal those of Nancy Goodwin. My rose died in the middle of a drought, despite my efforts to keep it moist. Did I underwater it or overwater it? Who knows?

I can only say this: I still have envy in my heart, and I fear it will never subside. Alas, I find I am guilty of five of the seven deadly sins.

Absent from their gardens, Kit and Lise enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of horticulture and suburban living. More on Instagram @AbsenteeGardener or email

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