Welcome to my Nightmare



No, you’ll find no dreadful scenes like this lurking about my property. There is no need for manufactured horror here. If I want to be filled with fright and despair, all I have to do is take a short walk around the yard. Do you dare to accompany me? All right, but just remember … I warned you!

The black lagoon of misery

This was once a cheerful water feature, with bright orange fish darting through the clear water. Now, the once-pristine pond is more like a swamp, choked with leaves and inexplicably-dead water plants. The fish lurk in the bottom, their only hope possible adoption by a kindly neighbor.

Dark shadows of doom overhead

By the thousands, they rustle in the breeze, still bright green for the most part, taunting us as they flutter down, one or two at a time. They’ll save the big drop until 3 hours before the first major snowstorm. And there they’ll lay, ready to be scooped up in heavy, sodden piles after the thaw.

Will the bulbs never end?

Who ordered all these? What could he or she have been thinking? Who’s going to plant all these? How much did all these cost? This is madness, I tell you, madness!

The forgotten bucket of … ew, what is that smell?!
Run away!


The killing fields

Here is where young, vibrant, healthy, expensive plants are taken to die … slowly. The torture is simple but exquisite. Over there is a really pricy maroon heuchera, purchased in July. Isn’t that the rare ginger hybrid, brought back from the trip to Plant Delights? I think there might be one leaf still alive.

OK, that’s all for today. Thank you for visiting my little garden. I’m sorry if it has been unpleasant. Once I had beautiful flower beds, lush ferns, colorful container annuals, and much more. Not any more.

The horror! The horror!

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. I can’t tell you how much better you have made me feel.

    The horror of my own garden has me terrified into catatonia.

    The BULBS!!! The Pond!!! AHHHHHHH!

  2. That was very funny, and of course, vvvveeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy horrrrifffyyyyinnngg! Because I do sooooooo relate!!

  3. I can identify with that garden horror! Did you sneak in and take pictures in my garden perchance? We have the same vignettes! Eat candy, that always helps!

  4. Oh, layanee, there can be no comparison with your large and magnificent garden. Not from what I’ve seen! Nice of you to commiserate though.

  5. The stench rising from the organic fertilizer I just applied will surely nauseate any trick or treaters who dare the spider-encrusted shrubbery on the way to my front door. bwahahahahha.

  6. My horror is hauling all my bath water out by the bucket to water in my fall plantings because we are on a total outdoor watering ban!!! OMG!!! But no, I never considered just not planting anything this fall, I’m too stubborn to give up! Pray for rain in GA please.

  7. Its always sad to see the first frost and freeze come. One because it is the end of the growing season and two because I start to get cold at around 50 F.

  8. I simply don’t understand! MY garden is perfection, and my name is Martha Stewart…honest, doctor, I’ll get off the computer once the voices let me!

    Okay, back to reality: I think the same bulb-buying gremlin that got to you visited my house, too. I gave up on fish in my water feature after a raccoon removed them for me for the third time in a row.

    I like to leave plastic plant tags to mark the graves of my plant failures. I should tell you that it’s a reminder of my own fallibility, but I really leave them there so that I know where I have room to try killing something else next year.

    I don’t have to worry about falling leaves, though. What I don’t track into the house on my shoes is carried in by the cats. They lay down in the garden, and saunter in covered in leaves and completely unconcerned. Then they bathe themselves on the sofa, depositing leaves all over the living room.

    Instead of the bucket of mystery goo, I have a potting bench. It’s under all those pots…somewhere–I swear!

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