Waiting for the Itch

Mar 11, 2014 | 4 comments

Sydney circa 1943

Sydney-the-Gardener, 1943

I heard someone say the other day, “I’m just itching to get outside to work in the garden.”  I remember that my dad used to start getting anxious to get outside about this time of year, too.  It was usually around the time of my birthday at the end of February that mom would bring me our first camellias and dad would begin to fret about the weather and getting his dahlia bulbs in.

I wish now that I had paid more attention.  Maybe I’d have a clear thought of how to proceed each Spring.  Better yet, maybe I’d have caught the gardening bug… but I doubt it.  I’d probably still be waiting for the itch.

Daffodils in the Rain

Daffodils in the Rain

I think dad was trying to interest me in the garden way back in our Alameda days.  It was when he grew roses rather than dahlias and had a fairly spectacular cactus garden – the one Robert Reading fell into when he was fooling around on the windowsill in our sunroom.

Maybe it’s Robert’s fault that I never did find gardening very interesting.  I even think my mother encouraged me – probably in an effort to have me build a bond with my dad.  (Which wasn’t ever really necessary.  Our ‘connection’ was more cerebral…) Mom wasn’t a gardener, either, but she was into the proper ‘outfits’ and I have a photograph of myself in what must have been her idea of ‘gardening togs for little girls.’  I was probably seven or eight and, although I look pleased with myself, there is no evidence of garden dirt on knees or hands.

First RhodiesJPG

First Rhodies

Fortunately, some stuff carries on without me.  Both of our camellias are at their height of bloom right now.  We have rhododendrons in bud and the bright yellow heads of the daffodils are nodding in the rain.  Of course, there’s the other stuff, too, — those pesky weeds.

Come to think of it, when my folks lived in this house, my dad always had help in the garden.  Good idea, dad!  (I told you our bond was cerebral!)  I guess I do have the gardening itch – at least the itch to get help.  And maybe I should get an ‘outfit’ too…


  1. Nancy

    Yes! Overalls would look great on you! I must have developed the itch from my mother, have always enjoyed working in the garden, UNLESS it is cold, windy or just plain too wet! Being at the potting bench which is rarely cleaned off well enough to pot anything is a delight for me. Dirty fingernails too. On the topside (head) I also enjoy, very much, an intellectual discussion.

  2. Jo

    I’m with you, Sydney. I have planted bulbs…that way you don’t have to do anything, they just keep coming up. What are weeds? I rarely deal with them. Ha ha. Love the picture.

  3. Stephanie Frieze

    I love beautiful flowers and gardens, but have not been bit by the bug. Frankly, my knees won’t accommodate much mucking around in the dirt and I hire a younger woman, with more knowledge than I, to do the mucking. I do the watering and the heavy enjoying!

    • sydney

      “Heavy Enjoying!” I love that!


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