The lighter side of gardening

On my bookshelf, I have a copy of "Gardening: A Gardener's Dictionary" by Henry Beard and Roy McKie, originally printed in 1982, which has provided me with many laughs over the years. As we approach the new year, I wanted to share a few excerpts to help us remember to not take ourselves too seriously!

The definition on the book's cover sets its tone: "Gardening: the art of killing weeds and bugs to grow flowers and crops for animals and birds to eat."

Aphid: Insect pest that inphests gardens and makes gardeners phoam at the mouth, stamp their pheet and utter phour-letter words.

Artichoke: Only vegetable as troublesome to eat as it is to grow.

Bed: Where most prized flowering perennials are located, and 2) where most gardeners are located when deer and rabbits come to visit.

Catalogs: Form of entertaining fiction published by nurseries, seed companies and tool manufacturers.

Crab grass: Extraordinarily tenacious garden weed. The only method of controlling it currently on the market is the lawn howitzer. If the root-piercing shell strikes the plant directly at its center, it will kill the weed about half the time. The resulting crater can be turned into an attractive fishpond.

Delph: Abbrv. fr "delphinium," lg shwy prnnl w bl flrs. Othr cmmn abbrvs incl "mum," "snap," "daff" n "glad." If u cn rd ths dfntn, u cn get a gd jb at a nrsry.

Eggplant: Purplish, meaty vegetable whose taste when cooked has been variously compared to burnt liver, fried sandals, scorched clams, a wallet, old magazines and mud.

Fence: Wire barrier erected to protect garden produce against animal pests that lack wings, paws, teeth or brains, and cannot leap, tunnel, climb or fly.

Garden: One of a vast number of free outdoor restaurants operated by charity-minded amateurs in an effort to provide healthful, balanced meals for insects, birds and animals.

Grape: Uninteresting larval stage of wine.

Green Thumb: Common condition suffered by gardeners in which the skin of the thumb develops a greenish hue as the result of handling large amounts of currency at nurseries.

Hardy: A plant is said to be hardy if it remains alive long enough in a nursery to be sold.

Hose: Crude, but effective and totally safe type of scythe towed through gardens to flatten flower beds and level vegetable plantings.

Memorial Day Weekend: Traditional planting time for many frost-tender plants.

Monday after Memorial Day: Traditional time of unexpected hard frost.

Node: Portion of anatomy of hay fever sufferers affected by pollen.

Perennial: Any plant that, had it lived, would have bloomed next year, too.

Pinching: Pruning method developed in Italian gardens.

Rotary mower: Gasoline-powered metal detector used to locate misplaced trowels, shears and hose nozzles in tall grass. Indicates contact with a loud WHNNNNG! sound, followed by immediate stalling.

Seed: Costly but nutritious form of birdseed sold in pretty packages.

Sprinkler: Adjustable irrigation device with two settings — "drool" and "monsoon."

Weed: Any plant that will survive at least one week without being watered, fertilized, pruned, sprayed, staked, mulched, misted, dusted, wrapped in burlap or protected with plastic.

Yard: When in prison, a dusty, large, open area where hard labor is performed, or 2) In horticulture, a dusty, large, open area where hard labor is performed.

Zzzz: Sound produced by dozing gardener, or 2) Sound of bee trapped in that gardener's pants leg.

Happy gardening in 2013!

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at

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