Wife of gardening addict has her say


This story ticked me off at first.  The writer describes her gardening-obsessed husband and his thoughtful gift to her of – surprise! – a new garden feature, no matter that she was begging for some decent furniture.  Passive-aggressive or just plain selfish?  You decide.

But in the end the guy figured out how to turn gardening into a family affair, and I think there’s hope for their marriage after all.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).
  • Also in Greenbelt, MD, writing the e-newsletter and serving on the Board of Directors for the cooperatively-owned music and arts venue and restaurant called the NEW DEAL CAFE.

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.


  1. I think it’s a nice piece. When you ask about selfishness are you thinking the wife or the husband is selfish? Seems like it could go either way, but as Michelle notes the ending is nice and a couple’s compromise (isn’t that always the way?) helps create it.

  2. Oh, I thought the husband was being selfish to give her wife what HE wanted – new gardens – instead of the furniture she wanted. But what do I know about successful marriages?

  3. My first thought was, before the wife decided she liked the taste of fresh tomatoes did she ever step foot outside? Did she even look out the windows? Did she let the kids play outside unsupervised? How could she not know her husband was creating a garden for so long? Her clues are catalogs, tools, seed trays and bills. Hello lady! Go outside and have a look at what’s going on.

  4. This post and comments are interesting because clearly we gardeners cannot conceive of someone who has no interest in gardening. But it’s kind of like if my husband gave me opera tickets for my birthday because he liked opera – I HATE opera! Looked at that way, I don’t think it was such a great gift – but he (or Mother Nature) won her over in the end. Best of all, her kids are introduced to the natural environment!

  5. It reminds me of when my brother gave my mom a subwoofer for her car as a birthday present. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that he used her car at the time.

  6. Very funny and certainly tongue in cheek with a little jab, (AA humor~intervention,codependent) at we obsessed gardeners. This author knows us and loves her man! The tomato seduction scene may be my favorite! ” He popped another tomato in my mouth”.

  7. A totally charming story with a delightful ending, but I can see why the wife was a little upset with the husband’s unilateral decision on funds allocation.

  8. Isn’t it better to be interested in something, than just sitting in front of TV?
    Obviously a case of a couple that was not sharing the same hobby.
    Although he was successful to involve entire family to get closer to Nature. Especially for kids that is important – they more and more loose the touch with natural environment and this will be one of the main social issues soon.
    Maybe gifts that better suit his interest, is little bit too much 🙂
    Well written story and thank you for bringing it up 🙂

  9. I’ve found that kids love playing in the dirt. Funny that. For those about to embark on teaching your child to garden, you’ll remember that, when doing somethign with the kids, plan on 2x as much time to complete it.

  10. Sit com comes to the garden! Now I have seen everything. On television the male especially white ones are are depicted as Homer Simpson. Stupid punching bags for the rest of the family.

    I prefer to be Archie Bunker in my back yard!

    The (Father Knows Best) TROLL

  11. OMG this was so funny but true. My marriage to the T. My dear hubby has never been outside to see the 2.5 acre gardens that took 15 years to evolve. He did however notice all the wildlife and birds that the garden hosts….he loves that part.

    Thanks for the post. On the way to the hospital on Sunday for Urgent Care I asked my husband to stop at the plant sale we spied on the way. Think I too have the disease.

  12. I suppose the only thing that irritated me at first was the evident disconnect between husband and wife. Thank goodness she came around, or I’d consider that a marriage in trouble – never mind the fault is equally shared. Yes, compromise is one of the necessary foods for a healthy marriage. The added bonus is a gardening family.

  13. squirrelgardens – I just have to say that’s a bizarre combo – likes the wildlife but doesn’t visit the context it lives in? I’d be way to curious. Hey, whatever works for ya!

  14. This story reminds me of how my husband gives me video games for every occasion, so “we can play them together.” *sigh*

    Gardening is time better spent together, in my opinion.

    I think it is great that the whole family is involved in their garden. Maybe I’ll take a cue and give my husband a gardening feature for father’s day….

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