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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Updated on August 14, 2011

Gardening Nightmares

As this heading suggests, what I am about to share with you is three years' worth of, to say the least, unusual gardening experiences. In retrospect, these were nightmares, because as you will read, each episode had its own story, very unlike what you would find in a gardening book today.

So, please, take a moment, sit down and enjoy.

roses, not

With kind permission from Sam Veres at
With kind permission from Sam Veres at

Year 1, War with the Roses

Back in the early 80s, sometime in early to mid-March, a delivery came to our home. I know I didn't order anything, so I had no clue as to what it could be. Upon opening the door there sat boxes and boxes of things with sticks poking out of them. I asked my hubby if he knew what this was about, and he said, oh, yes, those are the roses I ordered. From where, I asked. Well, from the catalog, he said.

Roses? As in bushes? Yes, 50 of them to be exact. I looked at him and said are you kidding me? What are we going to do with that many roses? He said, plant them. Let's go. Uh, go? Go where? C'mon he said, get the kids so we can plant these. Now? Surely you're kidding, right? No, I'm not, he said. I said, but it's March! It's cold out there! He said, these have to go in the ground now or they'll die.

Well, ok, the last thing I wanted to do was dig holes in the yard, especially in March. I am not your ‘outdoorsy' type person, and truth be told, I don't quite have a black thumb, but green? No way.

Anyway, I rounded up the kids, we got our jackets on and trooped out to the yard. Hubby dug the holes, my son plopped the bushes into the holes, and I think my daughter filled them in. I do not recall how long we were out there, but it was well into the night. Our neighbors must have thought we were certifiably nuts. Picture Dad, son and daughter digging holes in the yard under floodlights, while I just stood there and observed. For all I know, the neighbors may have thought we were doing something very sinister.

The project ended, and in the months that followed, my hubby religiously checked on those bushes, which were planted around the perimeter of the backyard. Personally, I didn't give them anything but a cursory once-over. They appeared to be doing ok, at least there was green sprouting from the sticks. Summer arrives and although the plants hadn't died, neither were they blooming. As I mentioned, I am by no means a gardener, but I never considered that maybe they wouldn't even produce blooms the first year.

Now, fast forward to the ending of summer. I was out in the backyard one day, and lo and behold, I saw no rosebushes. I proceeded to walk around the yard, and all I saw were stumps. Well, apparently either my hubby or son had forgotten they were there and mowed them down while cutting the grass, or, some renegade deer mistook them for decorative antlers. Anyway, when I questioned my hubby about the lack of bushes, he replied, but honey, I never promised you a rose garden. And, that's the truth!

squash borer's fault

photo by Wikipedia
photo by Wikipedia

Year 2, Not My Hubby's Fault


The following year, my hubby planted a vegetable garden. He planted the usual things, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and peppers.

One day that year, I went and checked on the garden, and I got very excited. We had huge, beautiful zucchinis all over. For whatever reason, I didn't pick any that day. The next day, I decided I should go pick them. I walked out to the garden, and surprise, surprise! No zucchini! Zero, zip, nada! I looked and looked, then realized they were all gone. Upon further inspection, I could tell where they were, but what was left in their place were only their skins. It turns out the zucchinis were attacked by what I imagine were squash worms, who decided to have a grand feast the night before at our expense. They ate every last one from the inside out, leaving behind nothing but the intact skins.

Now, is this endearing me to gardening? I think not. In my hubby's defense, we did get some good tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that summer.

fish guts

photo by
photo by

Year 3, Gardening in the Year of the Fish

On to the third year of our gardening adventures. One day, my hubby's best friend and family came down to spend the day with us. The guys went fishing out on the boat, while we girls stayed behind with our children. Somewhere around dinnertime, the guys arrived back home, and apparently, they had a great day. They had large trash bags filled to the tops with fish. Lots and lots of fish. They went out back to gut and clean their catch. This went on for several hours into the darkness. I asked them aren't you coming in? They said no, they had to clean all the fish or they would go bad.

Ok, now I'm guessing it was well after midnight when they finally finished. They had put all the fish guts, heads, and tails into the large trash bags. Hubby decided it wouldn't be a good idea to throw the bags into our garbage cans or we'd have the town's cat population in our yard, licking their chops and meowing at the moon. So, in a stroke of genius, he says, I know, we'll bury them; it will make great compost for next year's garden. He carefully picked the spot where he wanted the next year's garden, and he and his buddy dug a hole. They dumped the fish remains in and buried them.

The next year arrived, and once again it was time to garden. Our same friends came down, and hubby and his buddy started to dig up the area where they buried the fish remains the previous summer. Oddly, as they tried to dig, the pitchforks and shovels weren't breaking up the dirt. After several attempts, voilà, one of them finally hit pay dirt, at which point they jumped back and began retching. What they uncovered were the fish parts they buried, not spread evenly amongst the dirt as they had expected, but still encased in the black trash bags which had not disintegrated. The remains were the same as the day they filled the bags, and as nasty and smelly as the day they were caught.

We bypassed a garden that year.

my idea of gardening

photo by kind permission from berenika at
photo by kind permission from berenika at

In Conclusion


Do I want to venture once again into gardening? No, thank you. I so admire people who love doing it, and yes, I am envious of their bounty, whether it be flowers or food. For me, i saw that gardening was a lot of work, a lot of maintenance, as well as a combination of success and failures. My contribution to the gardening was in preparing the food that it produced.

So, I think I'll leave the gardening to Mr. Green Jeans.


Lynn Andersen ~ I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


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    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi Michelle!

      My God, I don't know what I would have done if I had a delivery of chickens LOL! I'm hoping you have a farm or enough property for all of them.

      Do you still have them? or did the hobby get old?

      When I was newly married, we lived in a high-rise apartment building, and the assistant superintendent, an elderly gentleman, knocked on our door one morning. He decided it would be a 'cute thing' to hand deliver two baby ducklings, with the same thought your hubby had,,the kids will love them. Well, my kids were 4 and 2 at the time, my son being the oldest. Hubby and I were in the living room, and my son comes over to my hubby, holding the limp duckling and said Daddy, the duck won't walk. Well, the poor thing was dead because he carried it with his little hand wrapped around its neck :(

      Needless to say, we found a home for the remaining duckling.

      Thanks so much for sharing your adventure!

    • profile image

      Michelle Canonica 

      7 years ago

      I love how you found a story from your family's escapes, your titles, and your choice of experiences to share. Very humorous. Your 50 rose bushes reminds me of the 50 mail-ordered chickens I picked up from the post office one morning. A year or two before, ny husband brought home 5 chicks with excuses justifications like "the kids will enjoy them." This expanded into quite a hobby for him, and me by default.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Freya,

      Yes, it's coming up on 24 years ago this coming August. And yes, I have grown stronger, more so than I thought I could.

      Thanks so much for your sincere wishes.

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 

      8 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      Ah,my big condolences for you, Trish. I hope you already passed the saddest time and become more strong in spirit today.

      Warm regard and I wish for God blessing for you.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Freya,

      After the rose fiasco, my hubby tried vegetables. Those didn't fare well either, so no, we never grew anything else.

      My hubby passed away in 1986, which you can read about

      in my hub Suddenly Alone. I miss him but I'm sure he looks down on me and has a good laugh about our experiences.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 

      8 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      Ah Trish, this is so fun to read. I'm sorry for your experience about gardening, but you are not the only one. I am not a gardening person too! :D But I will never reject on Rose Garden though. I always love to see Roses blooming from its bushes, mostly if it smell really good. Did your husband had planted something new again these days?

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      I wish I was in a position to have a Mr. Green Jeans! Lucky you :)

      I guess I never inherited the gardening gene from my parents or grandparents, who both had lovely gardens. I have many fond memories of spending time in my grandparents' gardens. They had two properties side by side, and they had a vegetable garden behind the house they lived in, and a huge flower garden along side their other house. I'd spend hours with my grandfather in those gardens.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.

      Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments,


    • AEvans profile image


      10 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I loved it!! Although we just bought another home and the back end was a mess I believe I must say, I hired Mr. Green Jeans as it is to much work for me. :)" I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden" well I told Mr. Green Jeans to get planting because I wanted at least one. I love the song as it was one of my mom's favorites when I was growing up. :)

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      OUCH!!!! You must have seen stars! Thank God you didn't lose your foot. I take it no permanent damage was done? I'm sorry you had to spend 14 days in bed.

      I'm with you on that one, I would never set foot in a garden. In fact, two summers ago, I went in the backyard to cut grass, when all of a sudden I felt something like hot pins on my leg. Well, I was attached by a hornet's nest, so badly I had to call 911. I have never cut grass again lol,,,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney

      From Karen,

       'I'd even go so far as to say I'd  ripped out some plants thinking they were weeds."

      My mother and her green thumb would never let me in the garden again.

      One bad feeling with gardening: 

      We had moved into a new house, with some ground to garden.

      Out there on fine summer's day with pitchfork, Val came out to tell me That I was wanted on the telephone. That was the fifth time in the last three hours. (my life was run by telephone calls) In disgust I pitched the pitch fork in to the garden, in preparation of going inside the house. I did not watch where the pitchfork was going until it entered my foot.

      Result in bed for 14 days with the threat of maybe loosing my foot.

      Fortunately I was still able to use the telephone.

      Result was, we were still able to earn some money, did not need to have my foot fixed by the removal specialist.

      Never went back into the garden again, ever.

      Great hub,

      Thank you

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hey Karen!  Nice to see you :)

      I know exactly how you felt.  Now I don't feel so alone.  Even in my home, I have a total of three live plants, but mostly because I have awful light.  The only place the sun comes up in my home is through a tiny bathroom window in the back of the house :(

      I do much better with indoor plants than outdoor ones, and I hate that I can't have more in my house.  Anyway, I should just be glad I have the three I do have.

      I hope you can get your flowers again.  If you do you won't be making the same mistake twice :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Karen LaVelle profile image

      Karen LaVelle 

      10 years ago from Texas

       'I'd even go so far as to say I'd probably rip out some plants thinking they were weeds."

      Funny you should say that trish1048!  I Do have a green thumb, more like green hands according to my friends, but, sometimes I make horrible mistakes too!

      One year I planted seeds for a beautiful flower type and I did not mark the spot for later reference.  When spring came, I had forgotten all about the planting and when the little seedlings poked their heads out of the ground, I plucked them all out thinking they were weeds.  It was a week later that I remembered what I had planted about feeling sick?  They were a rare plant that I cannot easily get my hands on. 

      So, don't feel bad, because it happens to the best of gardeners from time to time!     =o)

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Neither did I! It was definitely a surprise when the roses arrived, and even more of a surprise when I discovered them gone. At least his heart was in the right place :)

      Thanks so much for your comments!

    • Brainstormer profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      "But honey I never promised you a rose garden" boom boom

      I laughed so hard. I didn't even see it coming.

      Great read.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi Sweetie,

      What your Dad did sounds like something I would do. For a moment I thought you were going to say the garden spread everywhere. I wonder why it had an opposite effect.

      However, I'm sure your Mom appreciated your good intentions. Gardens, I've found, need daily nurturing. Even if I managed to plant one, I'm sure something would go haywire with it. I'd either over water it or under water it or something. I'd even go so far as to say I'd probably rip out some plants thinking they were weeds.

      I'm with you, watering and weeding :)

      Thanks for your kind comments,


    • SweetiePie profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      My mom loves to garden and she truly has a green thumb. The one summer when I was 18 she was really busy with work, so I decided to help my dad take care of the garden since I was home from college. For some odd reason that summer he decided to use miracle grow and did not follow the directions. He poured way too much miracle grow and the plants every day, and by September they had not grown much and only produced tiny tomatoes. After that my mom decided she would always have to be in charge of the garden. I enjoy your hub because I to enjoy water or weeding a garden, but I do not have the green thumb to ensure that one grows.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi G-Ma,

      LOL now you have me chuckling! Yes, we certainly had our fun times throughout our marriage. Those were just the tip of the iceberg :)

      I'm glad you got such a kick out of it, it makes me feel good to make people smile.

      Thanks so much for your sweet comments. Hugs back to you.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      OMG... Lmao... Rofl...that was adorable...I loved it thanks for cheering me up....I could just picture each year you wrote about  hee hee  :o)  G-Ma Hugs

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      As you well know, I have many stories that, upon looking back, are quite entertaining. What the guys were thinking at the time, I have no idea. My immediate guess is that they thought the bags would just disintegrate.

      Not only did I love my grandparents' gardens, of which there were two, one for veggies and one for flowers, I also loved the apple and pear trees. I recall it was always my granddad who took me in the gardens and yard, and holding my hand as we walked through each one. He taught me how to pick up fruit off the ground that he said were suitable for my grandma's pies. As I think about it today, those times for me were magical.

      It's kinda funny, now that I think about it, that I didn't become a gardener just based on my experiences as a child. I think it's perhaps because i never observed my grandparents doing the actual work in creating the gardens, as they were already established. The only work I recall being done was the weeding. If that was all I had to do today, I'd be your best gardener.

      thanks, dear friend, for your warm comments

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      What a fun read, my friend! Since I know the characters and remember the setting, I have fantastic pictures in my head about these three seasons of gardening. I can't believe the boys did that with the fish guts! What were they thinking???

      You may not have the interest in gardening that some do, but you have enormous appreciation for gardens and gardeners. I love to hear you talk about your grandparents' garden, and the garden I had in Glenside, too. Your love of the beauty of plants growing in a garden shines brightly, like the wide eyes of a kid in a candy store.

      Beautiful ending with the Lynn Andersen video.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi Shalini,

      Yes, you're right. Everyone has their own talents, and as you read, gardening was not one of mine. One of the reasons I love summer is because, as my last picture shows, that is what I do. On my way home from work I will stop at the farmer's stand and buy bunches of fresh cut flowers, and plop them in whatever container I feel does them justice.

      The fish in the trash bags, yes, it was absolutely horrible. Thankfully, we were able to laugh about it after the shock wore off.

      thanks so much for stopping by and commenting,


    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      10 years ago from India

      I guess there are some who can garden and some who can't....unfortunately, I belong to the latter category too...sigh!! There was only one thing to do if I wanted to see the flowers I love grow - get a I look and don't touch...just in case it's a jinx I have or something!!

      Great hub - loved the fish-in-plastic-bags!!! :)

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hi there Karen,

      Yes, sad to say, I never became a gardener. I don't know why my hubby didn't realize the plastic would not become part of the earth.

      To illustrate my lack of gardening know-how even further, my best friend and cousin came to my house one year and planted mums for me along side the front of my house, which has a northern exposure. I believe they asked me if I got sun there, and I said yes. They went ahead and put the mums in for me. It looked very nice when they were done. Well, the poor things never bloomed again and died the second year. My guess is the location was wrong.

      As far as your ground roses, look at the bright side. You don't have to mow grass there. Seriously, I'm not quite sure if I ever saw ground roses. Probably I have and just don't remember. My grandparents had lovely gardens, which included roses. Out of everything they grew, the roses were my grandfather's pride and joy. Have you inquired at a garden center about how to get rid of them? Perhaps there's a book that could tell you. I don't envy you the task of getting rid of them. I'm thinking you'll need to suit up to protect yourself from all those thorns.

      A coworker of mine had an issue with poison ivy that grew on his property. After 3 years and several cases of poison ivy, he finally got rid of it all. If I remember correctly he used gasoline, or some very harmful chemical.

      Glad you enjoyed this hub, and thanks so much for stopping by. Always nice to see you :)

    • Karen LaVelle profile image

      Karen LaVelle 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Hey Trish1048! 

      This is so neat!  I am sorry that your experiences put you off gardening, however.  There is nothing quite like the experience of growing beans, especially for the 1st time gardener.  It would have been a lot more encouraging. 

      I don't have any luck with roses, either, except for ground roses that I thought died and miraculously returned to life about 3 years after I thought they had died.  Now they are eating my yard, swallowing everything in sight including the fence and trees as they crawl toward the street. Problem is that they never have more than about 5 or 6 blooms on all that mass of thorns all year long.  And, I can't seem to get rid of them....they crawl around under the ground and pop up as new plants where ever they please.

      As a appreciator of fish guts in gardens, and I am not a man basher, either, I can't believe they did not think to open those sacks....I bet it was like digging up dead bodies in a graveyard...yyyyyaaaaaaaaccccckkkk!!!  :o{        I will be laughing at that scene for a month!

      I can more than appreciate the squash bugs, however.  Squash requires special attention in even an experts garden.  There are fewer plants that are more satisfying to grow, yet, with so many possible and probable conditions to prevent you from harvesting.  I truly sympathize with your experience with the squash.

      Great Hub!

      Karen LaVelle    =o)


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