Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The Rev. Dana Prom Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D. (5/30/2015)


Dear Garden Optimist: 

I’m really pissed off about the stuff that falls on my garden, leaves in the fall, pine needles in the spring.  Just after I rake up the pine needles, weeds begin popping up.  They piss me off.  It’s not just one weed, it’s a whole gang of weeds that pop up one after another, starting in the spring right through to fall.  I can predict the buggers.  How can I be an optimistic gardener with dropping leaves, falling pine needles, and those damned weeds?  And then there’s that yellow gunk?  Stuffs up my head.  Hell, it’s like my highfalutin daughter, changing clothes and make-up three times a day.  I just don’t know what this world is coming to.


Dear Pissed Off:

It’s hard to tell what the world’s coming to: big bang, fizzling out, or Second Coming.  If we knew the future, we’d probably go into a deep funk.

Sounds like you’re pissed at your highfalutin daughter and are taking it out on your garden.  As for your highfalutin daughter, I’m mute, having a wife, a daughter, and a granddaughter.  If Freud didn’t know what women want, he’d be bamboozled by teenage daughters.  Between pine needles, leaves, weeds, and your daughter, it’s no wonder you’re dyspeptic.


Dear Garden Optimist:

          Now, don’t go giving me a lot of that head shrinky stuff about my daughter and women.  I want to know about pine needles, leaves, and weeds.  


Dear Pissed Off:

Okay. As for the pine needles and leaves, I assume you change clothes at night and in the morning.        

The needles and leaves are nature changing clothes, only it just drops them on the floor for gardeners to rake up.  That yellow gunk is a sign of new growth.  It’s called candling.  I hope you’re not some kind of primitive who doesn’t pick up after himself.  I knew a guy once who thought that picking up clothes was a woman’s job because his mother did it.  He’d been married and divorced seven times, and when I knew him, he lived in a hovel by himself.

Fundamentally, gardening is yin yang.  For every up, there’s a down, so stop griping.  If there weren’t any falling pine needles and leaves, the trees would be dead.  It’s important during those times to remember yin times, freshly picked tomatoes while you’re extracting a pine needle from your under your finger nail.  Carl Jung said, “Everyone carries a shadow.”  Raking leaves and pine needles and picking weeds is the shadow side of gardening. 


Dear Garden Optimist:

Okay. I get the ying yan idea.  Leaves and pine needles I can take, but it’s those damned weeds.  I’d swear there’s a weed of the week, starting in the middle of March right through to Thanksgiving.  You sound like one of them believers.  My daughter calls God a She.  What’s this world coming to?


Dear Pissed Off:


          God is more complex than He or She and certainly more than It, as the secular flatliners would have it.  When Moses asked God what He was like, God replied, “I Am.”     

          Alert gardeners use leaves for mulch and their composters.  Pine needles can be ground up and used for mulch and for paths.

          As for weeds, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Some people like dandelions.  Weeds are plants you don’t want.  Pick weeds early before they go to seed.  In the meantime, thank God you can pull weeds, rake pine needles, and smell fallen leaves.  It means you’re alive which, as Maurice Chevalier said, is a lot better than the alternative.  Also, enjoy you highfalutin daughter while she’s home.  She’ll be gone all too soon.

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith

Dana Prom Smith and Freddi Steele edit Gardening Etcetera for the Arizona Daily Sun.  Smith emails at and blogs at