Flowers: A manly hobby

By David Lindeman
Contributing columnist

I have friends who have some manly hobbies. They hunt deer (with bow and arrows!) They fish for walleye in Lake Erie. They ride hundreds of miles on their bicycles.

Even golf can be a man vs. nature event when you play it no matter what the weather. Tornado heading toward town? They’ll still play 18. Blizzard? Maybe only nine.

For many of these hobbies, you need strength, endurance … and patience. I can’t imagine sitting in a tree waiting for a deer to stroll by, sitting in the sun tempting a fish to take the bait or even waiting in line for the foursome in front of you.

Actually, I do still ride a bike and my brothers and I used to play golf by our modified rules … nothing was illegal and you weren’t allowed any time to actually address the ball. We used to play at a course where there weren’t many other golfers. That course has since gone out of business. I wonder why.

No, my manly hobby is … flowers.

I’m not an institutional type of flowers guy, You know, four inches of mulch and lots of annuals perfectly spaced in eight-inch intervals. It looks nice, just not my style.

I’m more of an English garden person. Wall-to-wall flowers. Big flowers. Strange flowers. Forget the mulch. Yes, there are lots of weeds to fight but one man’s weed is another man’s flower.

I like perennials because they’re like old friends. They go away for a while but then, hey, look who’s back! Of course, there is the danger that they might not make it back, which is kind of sad. But just when you think they’re gone, suddenly they turn up in an unexpected place. If a columbine shows up in a crack in the sidewalk or a rudbeckia pops up where it’s not supposed to be, I leave them there. I admire their tenacity.

If something comes up and I’m not sure what it is, I let it go for a while. It’s usually a weed, but I can always pull it out later. Might as well see what develops first.

My current favorites are snowdrops, which always come up in February and herald the end of winter; Dutch irises; Jerusalem cross; nectaroscordum, a strange spring plant also known Sicilian honey garlic; torch lilies; gladiolus; and calla lilies.

I once even had a really big patch of thistles I let grow because I like the purple flowers. This probably was a mistake. I am still fighting the descendants of those thistles in my flower beds many generations later.

I always used to follow the directions for these flowers to the letter. For years I would dig up all the calla lilies and gladiolus and hide them in the basement, then bring them out and replant them. But I would miss a few and it turned out they did better than the ones I dug up and protected. Maybe it’s global warming, which seems to be working out OK so far here in Ohio. Now I dig up the ones I plant in pots and leave the rest in the ground. Much better results.

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have a big deer head hanging in my living room or whatever you have left of a fish after you eat it hanging on the wall. I don’t even have any golf trophies.

But here’s the thing: dead animals and golf clubs usually aren’t very appealing to women. I have found that a few flowers can really make an impression. My wife is a genius at cutting flowers and turning them into something really beautiful. And for you motorcycle guys and skydivers who don’t think gardening is manly enough, come to my house some hot afternoon and I’ll put you to work digging out weeds, cutting down honeysuckle and chopping wood. We’ll see who the tough guy really is.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].