Gardening for guys, brought to you by Esquire



Yes, the answer is roses. Contey advises Knock Out Roses, for their easy maintenance and evocative name. Contey also likes the Jackson grill and the hori, a Japanese utility knife that you can also use to plant pansies.

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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 regularly 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


  1. Roses? Oh good grief. Let’s take a poll, because it can’t be roses. Or, maybe it’s that it takes a certain finesse to be a rose gardener? Right. This is crazy, mostly because I do not and will never grow one single rose. I am inadequate I suppose. (Did you catch that rhyme? What’s more sexy than a poet?)

  2. I wouldn’t be impressed by a guy who grew roses. I agree. Gardening was not important to me when I met my husband, but if I were looking now, I think a couple houseplants (healthy) would be fine. Or tomatoes.

    It’s not a factor, basically, but I posted this because I thought it was kinda funny.

  3. After 50-some years of gardening, I would only be impressed by a guy who knew what a spade was and how to use it, and who could identify more than three plants (roses, crocuses and daffodils, in the case of my dear husband, although the last two are kind of wobbly).

  4. If he does plant that tomato, the important questions here are 1) does he water it? and 2) if he has a crop, does he share?

  5. Maybe if I took a bath and shaved I could get a date cause I have Knockout Roses and then a panoply of perennials and shrubberies to suit any taste.

    A shrub wall? I got dry stack stone walls.

    Still no lawn, but I wouldn’t be attracted to someone who gets hot over lawns.

  6. Oh, my! I might get impressed if he SENT me roses, but I’m much more interested in what’s on his bookshelf than what’s in his garden. The condition of what’s in the garden would also interest me and whether or not he could identify anything. And yes, it’s funny – thanks for posting. It’s nice to know that there’s silly drivel out there for men as well as for women. And Christopher, if I weren’t already married (and most likely old enough to be your mother) I’d go out with you. Provided you showered, of course. You KNOW the plants in your garden.

  7. Planting roses just to attract women? Hahahaha. Is that kind of like buying a certain breed of dog just because you heard it’s a chick magnet, not because you really truly want a dog? I’d be more interested in a guy who gardened because he enjoyed it, not because he thought sticking a few roses in the yard would make all the women flock there. Sheesh.

    And I’d be even more interested in a guy who never questions my garden center purchases and stays out of my way when I pull on the jeans and the garden gloves, coming around only when needed for mowing or heavy lifting.

  8. I once had a friend who had a small vegetable garden so that after a summer date he could go out the next morning (he was an early riser) and make a up a romantic breakfast for two from his garden. Home fries with onions and peppers, zucchini omelets, basil and sliced tomatoes. Didn’t help him get the first date. But it did help prolong relationships — at least until hard frost.

  9. And I’d be even more interested in a guy who never questions my garden center purchases” ….. my guy never ever questions these, because I make them in untraceable cash.

  10. A vegetable garden of course…and he should learn to prepare food from it as well.

    God, they should be asking a woman these questions. I’m a design professional and available for romance in the garden advice!

  11. It is a shame the depths of Esquire and Men’s Health have sunken to. Not every guy, especially us married ones, feel comfortable reading a mens magazine at the kitchen table laden with lingerie or bikini pictorials. Esquire used to be a high class mens magazine like Victoria is for women.

    If I wanted to use my lawn to attrct a date I guess I would place a hammock with rose petals strewn about it in the middle of the hammock.

    Around the grill? No…….I have to play the chauvinist here. The grill is one of the last man cave items to survive mandom. To play with fire is MY JOB! When my wife gets too close to my grill I play cave man and drag her away by the hair like my ancestors did.

    The (UGH Fire Hot) TROLL

  12. I actually liked the idea of roses, but of course, I’m a rose nut, so . . . . I’m not sure about Knockouts though. Although I like them for landscape uses, they have no scent and don’t make good bouquet material. I think I’ll go for the vegetable gardener who made breakfast for his lady love of that day.

    BTW, HH doesn’t garden at all. He does build hardscape. Now, that’s sexy.~~Dee

  13. Dee’s right on. The sexiest garden-related come-on would be a big tool shed stocked with serious stuff by a skilled carpenter/all-around Mr. Fix-it. Now that’s downright HOT.

  14. Apparently Esquire never watched Sex and the City or they’d know it was lilacs. I just rewatched the lilac episode again over the weekend.

    I agree with THE TROLL. If you want to use your LAWN to attract a DATE, put FURNITURE on it. Not an old refrigerator, not a junked up car.

  15. Do none of you all know the legend of Beauty & the Beast? Clearly, Esquire has – that rose worked like a charm and got that hideous (unshowered and unshaven) beast the most gorgeous girl available. 😉
    Seriously, rose gardening could make a hot guy seem even hotter – but would not sway me that a troll was really a prince. However, the accomplished chef-carpenter-veggie gardener would certainly get my attention.

  16. Orchids didn’t do much for Nero Wolfe’s love life, but now they’re sold at places like Whole Foods. Could growing them be a sign the guy liked healthy food and wouldn’t use Weed’n’Feed? This might not get him notice from Barbie doll-types but could attract real women.

    My husband worked in the family garden when he was young so he knew his tomatoes by the time he met me.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  17. Goodness what magazine publishers will do to attract readers! It got me over here! Nope roses wouldn’t do it for me, unless they were antiques, certainly not Knock Out Roses…too easy. No he would need to know his way around the kitchen garden and the kitchen.

  18. OOOOHHH Baby, tell me again about the vegetable gardener who made breakfast. Sign me up. Or a carpenter handy man type. I’m drooling over here. Where does one find themselves one of these?

  19. Dee, there’s a new Knockout rose on the market that is fragrant (about time!). ‘Sunny Knockout’ has wonderfully scented flowers with butter yellow centers that fade to pale creamy-white. It was one of the featured plants in the New Varieties Showcase garden at the Farwest Show last week. I’ve been very lukewarm about Knockout roses until now but I really like this one.

    However, a few Sunny Knockout roses planted in the lawn (a ridiculous concept as others pointed out) would not make me swoon over a guy. Give me a fabulous sense of humor any day.

  20. Just want to point out that I purposefully mashed up the three columns that I read by this guy–so lawns and roses aren’t quite as combined as I may have implied. If you want a truer picture of this, you can visit the site (a bad website, BTW). I was just playing it for laughs.

  21. Real men grow food and spice up your (life) and meals with herbs.

    Was this man trying to attract a male or a female? At no stage of my life would I feel comfortable if I went to a man’s home to see only roses…

  22. My cousin’s husband is a dedicated rose-grower. I find it charming that he’s so interested in them, but they don’t appeal to me personally so all I really admire is his enthusiasm, not the flowers themselves. I could see being attracted to a fellow gardener, but not someone who just stuck some plants in the ground and threw on some Old Spice hoping to make the girl next door (the only one who’ll see the yard, right?) swoon.

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