Monday, April 23, 2007

The Pessimistic Gardener

Being a pessimist by nature, I'm always astonished when plants come back to life in the spring. I know that's what they are supposed to do, but there is always this nagging fear that something may have gone horribly wrong over the winter. Especially with lantana, which is iffy in zone 7 anyway. Despite my consternation, all four lantana bushes have lived to see another year, and so on Saturday, I cut back all of the old dry, brittle stems, leaving only the shortest of green-leaved nubs poking up from the ground.

I was similarly convinced that the variegated hydrangea that we bought just before the Easter freeze must have met its end, but no. Tiny buds are miraculously emerging from the stalks.

It seems to me that pessimism might be more healthy, psychologically speaking, than optimism. An optimist, I imagine, is frequently disappointed, whereas a pessimist is pleasantly surprised to wake up and find that no plague, pestilence, or other catastrophe (aside from a few slugs) has overtaken his garden during the night.

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