Johnny’s Garden


The recent return of springlike weather, although brief, encouraged me to venture into the garden for the first time since last fall. Tending the garden is one of my favorite seasonal, pastime activities and, once I get started, there’s no stopping me.


“There’s a place I can get to where I’m safe from the city blues. And it’s green and it’s quiet. Only trouble was, I had to buy it. And I’ll do anything I got to do, cut my hair and shine my shoes, and keep on singin’ the blues, if I can stay here in Johnny’s Garden.” (“Johnny’s Garden” – Stephen Stills – 1973)


Stills’ song aptly describes my feelings about gardening…but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up in the OC, I used to do everything I could, get down on my knees and beg, offer to cut my hair and shine my shoes, employ any excuse to weasel my way out of gardening chores. If something’s a chore, it just isn’t any fun.


Dad wasn’t into fun, especially when issuing his usual command, “Up and at ‘em,” at the crack of 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. How inconsiderate, I thought to myself at the time. Even more unreasonable, I opined, was that I couldn’t just hack away at the weeds with a hoe (this was before the advent of the weedeater), I had to get down on my hands and knees and pull them up by the roots.


Of course Dad was right, as usual, and to this day uprooting is the best way to eliminate those pesky weeds and prevent them from returning too soon and strangling the rose bushes, irises, lilies and vinca. Speaking of strangling, there’s a certain gopher I’d like to strangle for wreaking havoc on my garden.


The little nuisance (I have another name for him, but nuisance will do for now) burrowed around in what turned out to be an ill-fated attempt to get at this year’s Mother’s Day rose bush, but the little so-and-so couldn’t get to it, since I learned long ago to plant them in a subterranean wire basket.


Some folks practice yoga to unwind and relieve stress, while others employ meditation or prayer, and still others use herbal remedies, but there’s something to be said for tending the garden. Maybe it’s just the fresh air and communing with nature. Whatever it is, tending my own little “Johnny’s Garden” sets me free.


Music also sets me free, especially tunes by Stephen Stills…they’re the cat’s meow. And speaking of cats – as it turned out I didn’t have to strangle that blasted gopher after all…the cat did it for me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to the garden.


“We are stardust, we are golden. We are billion-year-old carbon. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.” (“Woodstock” – Words and music by Joni Mitchell – Performed by Crosby Stills & Nash – 1969)


Keep it flyin,’ Uncle Mott