Leading You Down The Garden Path

It’s gardening season, woohoo!

If you’ve ever been to a garden centre, you’ll know why the expression “leading you down the garden path” means “deceiving you”.  I’ve been sucked in by their euphemisms more times than I can count, so today I’m going to translate some common plant-sales wording for the benefit of less jaded experienced gardeners:

“This vigorous plant will thrive anywhere”:  This innocent-looking scrap of greenery is a monster poised to attack.  As soon as you place it in the ground, it will shoot twelve-foot-long roots in all directions and new plants will spring from every inch of the roots.  If you attempt to pull it out, every tiny segment of remaining root will form a new mother plant with its own set of twelve-foot-long roots and plague of invasive children.

“This delightful woodland favourite prefers dappled shade and moist well-drained humus-rich soil”:  It’ll die no matter where you put it.

“Easy to grow”:  …If you’re a master gardener.

“Plant these seeds as soon as soil can be worked in spring”:  …But they won’t actually grow then.  This is just a clever way to make you buy a second $5.95 packet of seeds after the first batch rots in the cold soggy soil.

“These seeds require light to germinate”:  These seeds won’t germinate.  Ever.

“Attracts birds to your garden”:  Cut off its flowers the instant they fade, otherwise it’ll spew out so many seeds you’ll spend the rest of your life weeding.

“Drought-tolerant”:  …As long as your definition of ‘drought’ is “an inch of rain per week”.

“Will even grow in dry shady trouble spots”:  Yes, it will.  But it’ll send out tendrils to scout for better conditions, and when it finds them… see “This vigorous plant…” above.

“Requires support”:  It’s a pathetic weedy vine.

“Requires a sturdy trellis”:  It’ll leap out of the ground like Jack’s beanstalk and within weeks will thicken to a woody rope that scrambles up the trellis and onto the neighbouring tree, where it will subsequently crush the trellis to dust and strangle the tree.  If the trellis is attached to your house, you’d better sleep with an axe under your pillow and ten gallons of weed killer beside your bed.

“Blooms from May to September”:  Theoretically, ten minutes in July is within the range of ‘May to September’.

“Non-invasive”:  …If you live in the arctic.

“Forms a neat mounded clump”:  …In June.  By August it’s a mess of leggy stems flopped over in all directions.

“Semi-evergreen”:  Completely deciduous except for one ugly leaf that clings to the stem all winter like dirty underwear tied to a flagpole.

“Evergreen”:  Mottled olive-drab is technically a shade of green.

“Hardy once established”:  It’ll probably live, if it doesn’t die first.

“Fast-growing”:  Don’t lean over it while you’re planting unless you want to be impaled by the branches shooting skyward.  And you might as well buy a chainsaw right now, ’cause you’re gonna need it.

“Slow-growing”:  If you’re over the age of two, don’t bother planting it.  You won’t live long enough to see it reach its mature height.

“Hardy to Zone x”:  Make that “Zone x, minus 1 or 2”.

“Gardening is an inexpensive and relaxing hobby”:  I’ve got some swampland to sell you…

Chime in, gardeners!  What’s the best gardening euphemism you’ve heard?

P.S. Still no word from Amazon about why the pre-orders for Book 13 didn’t show up on Amazon Canada, UK, Australia, or any other marketplace except the U.S.  They promised to get back to me today, so… fingers crossed…

28 thoughts on “Leading You Down The Garden Path

  1. And this is why my gardens look the way they do. If it can’t thrive on benign neglect, it doesn’t belong in my yard. Lots of hastas and daylilies. After 20 years, lily of the valley is finally taking off.


    • I love hostas and daylilies – they’re so beautiful and durable! And I had to chuckle at your comment about the lily-of-the-valley. I planted it at our place in Calgary and it only sent up a few pathetic little shoots each year. But we only lived in that house for 19 years, so maybe the lily-of-the-valley is lush and thriving there now that it’s over the magic 20-year mark… 😉


  2. I am excellent at growing….let me think….what was that again….nothing! So perhaps the ‘you’d better sleep with an axe under your pillow and ten gallons of weed killer beside your bed.’ might actually turn into a reasonable plant for me. You are so funny Diane. I laughed out loud at that one.


  3. Semi-evergreen….LMAO! Now I’m going to picture underwear hanging from trees here in the winter😂

    Ok…”perennial”: will continue to bloom every year as long as you live within a 30 mike radius of Los Angeles.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been a long time since I have been able to post here but I’ve stayed somewhat up to date with your posts. I so want to be able to come back more often, hopefully that will be a new norm for me very soon.
    For the last five years I have been been completely wrapped with my hubby’s health concerns, pretty sure I’ve mentioned that here before. My one , yep one, sanity saver have been your books. That is not said to just be empty praise. These characters have kept me focused so my waaay stressed out brain could handle hubby’s care. After so many doc’s, both VA and civilian, hospitals, both private and VA, multiple surgeries, therapies, multiple promises of “great progress”, “expected to be back to normal movement soon” and so on, while I went through a steady downturn in my own health, he finally came home under hospice care. They were great, furnished all the equipment, most of the extra non VA meds etc. And, really took some oh the physical work off me.
    On Saturday, the 19th, about 5 AM, my hubby for 56 years, passed away. I had just tended to his meds need at 4 AM, we then both went back to sleep. I got up at about 8 to get dressed to go to the drug store and get his newest meds. They close early on Saturday so wanted to get done quick. Went to his bed to make sure he was comfortable and tell him I’d be right back.
    It was over. No response.
    The last few days have been a blur sort of. Arrangements, paper work, stuff I’m sure is normal more or less. Not ‘my’ normal tho.
    Weird, surreal, I guess something will smooth out sometime eventually.
    So, my house, the one that I’ve complained about being too small, is suddenly too big, too empty and too quiet.
    I guess I’ll survive of course, just takes time and can’t believe I just said that lame old line!
    I believe I read that # 13 is on the shelves? I’m going to check, I need the new adventure to help me adjust. I’ve missed all of the post responses due to lack of time so hopefully that’s changing. On my way to check on #13!


    • You’ve been missed, ‘Dance. Thought that your guy’s health issues might have been the reason. I am so, so very sorry for your loss, ‘Dance. If you need a shoulder to, well, for whatever, you can holler at Diane for my email address.

      Again, heartfelt condolences, sista. It’s never easy, is it?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Moondance, I’m so sorry! Like @SRG, I was afraid that your long absence didn’t bode well. I wish there was something I could say that would ease this awful time for you. Grieve as and when and as long as you need; and be kind and patient with yourself. You did all anyone could do for your husband, and now it’s time to nurture yourself and regain your own health. And after the blur finally fades, I hope you’ll find comfort in happy memories.

      Sending you hugs and peaceful thoughts…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These are hilarious and at the same time kind of scary because they’re so true. I especially love ‘ “Hardy once established”: It’ll probably live, if it doesn’t die first.’

    I would add “deer-resistant” and “likes full sun” to your list . . .


    • Ah, yes. “Deer-resistant”: No deer will ever eat it… until they discover it.

      And “Likes full sun”: …As long as you provide shade between 10 AM and 4 PM and water it daily…


      • “Deer-resistant” If it’s on another planet–one without deer–you should be fine.

        “Likes full sun” Likes to look at it through tinted windows with drawn curtains and pulled shades. On the thirty-seventh Tuesday of alternate leap years. Otherwise, it thrives (completely bare except for one sickly leaf) in sealed basements.

        “Drought-tolerant” Blah blah blah, etc. And in the fine print at the bottom, “Note: for hydroponics use only.”

        “Requires support” Not sticks and twine. Oh, no. The *other* kind of support. A $300 an hour plant whisperer. Which is clearly labeled. In microscopic fine print. With page-colored ink. I know that sounds like a deceptive trade practice, but the ink they use makes that argument null and void. It’ll practically jump off the page at you if you rub it carefully with the used-car-salesman’s blood that you’ve scraped off your knuckles. Or so I’ve heard. (Something about statutes of limitation issues comes to mind. Moving on…)

        “Attracts birds to your garden” Yep, thousands of them. Vultures. The ‘heady, enticing fragrance’ is that of a week-old battlefield in a drought, the refuse heap at a fourth-world slaughterhouse, and leftovers from a two-year-old’s birthday party and sleep over.

        Yeah, I think I might be getting the hang of this sort of thing now. 🙂


        • LOL! You’re definitely getting the hang of it. There’s a promising career for you in horticulture… which reminds me of the joke about the King of the Roses, who was besotted with a promiscuous daisy from the wrong side of the tracks. Despite his advisors’ attempts to dissuade him, the King brought Miss Daisy to the royal palace and spent a small fortune trying to educate her in fine art, music, and dance so that she could become his Royal Consort. Unfortunately, Miss Daisy wasn’t the least bit interested in the role, and she refused to pay attention to any lessons. After six months of intensive coaching in which she made no progress whatsoever, the King was finally forced to admit defeat. Which just goes to prove: You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think. (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist…)

          Liked by 1 person

  6. you should send an email to Jeff Bezos…
    Once I bought a “dwarf” cypress tree. The label at the garden center said, “grows 8ft tall max.” When it reached 18 feet, my wife had me cut it down. The only good part is that I got to rent a chair saw for the day…


  7. I got nothing. But I understood every one of the ‘euphemisms’ you listed, and laughed with each. Reminds me of the list of ‘translations’ from used car dealer jargon you posted a while back. Now *those* I can relate to. 🙂

    And June 5 lurketh closer with each passing hour. Just not close enough. It should lurk faster.


    • LOL! Ordinarily I’d agree, but with this Amazon screwup I’m glad there’s still a bit of time. I’m dead in the water until they resolve it – can’t even update the back matter and descriptions of the existing books.

      I’m just hoping they don’t screw up the release of the actual book, because right now all they have is the temporary edition that they require to “hold” the pre-order. So if you get an edition with a big “THIS IS NOT THE FINAL VERSION” on the front, you’ll know what happened. I’m just glad I mistrusted them enough to put the disclaimer on the temporary edition in the first place…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gad, what a mess! I’d be interested in hearing about the cause and resolution and such when the smoke clears. I am making a serious effort to get War in the Giants, Book 1 published this summer. At this moment, I am making what might actually be my last pass through Books 1, 2, and 3 to nail down every last little thing regarding continuity and agreement and such.

        ‘Three’ is very nearly finished; just a tiny bit more to attach the first nine-tenths to the actual ending and epilogue. Then there’s turning it into something that’s actually publishable instead of merely a manuscript of deathless prose. And probably some more stuff besides that.

        Have I mentioned that ignorance is ceasing to be bliss? 🙂


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