The problem with working from home is that, well, you’re always freaking home. This not only exercises your self-control over a cupboard full of food, but also means you notice all the flaws around your home.

Okay, don’t tell the tax man, but I occasionally work at the kitchen table. Technically, I think I’m supposed to do all my work from my office to qualify for the home office deduction, but for various reasons to do with keeping my sanity, I need to get out of that room now and then. This puts me at the kitchen table which has a huge picture window that looks out onto my yard. Great for the nice bright light source (aka “The Sun”). Not so great for the view I have to look at.

That view – or rather my hatred of it – has spurned an obsession….and not the Calvin Klein kind with hot half-naked male models (sigh).

No, I’m obsessed with my garden. Or rather the mud pit that should be my garden. See, I live on the down slope of a hill (yeah, I’m a glass is half-empty kind of gal, so it’s “down slope” not “up slope”). To top this off, I’m also on the north side of said slope. This means over half my back yard is in complete shade for about eight months out of the year. If I could convince my neighbors to just chop a story off their house, I’d have some sun, but since they seem to keep shrugging off this brilliant idea, no sun.

I also live in the super soggy Northwest. Combine grass-killing shade with bucket upon bucket of rain and you get a yard full of mud.  Seriously, it’s horrible. As you walk through my backyard in the winter you have to pry your feet up as you walk to free them from the muck. A disgusting sound somewhere between fat people French kissing and a pre-teen smacking her mouthful of Hubba Bubba Bubblegum follows you as you make your way across the yard. I’m pretty sure we’ve lost pets back there like some sort of La Brea Tar Pit re-enactment.

It’s ugly, it’s messy, it’s offending a wide variety of my senses and I’m sick of it.

So, I’m obsessed. I’ve checked out a two-foot tall stack of garden design books. I’ve sloshed my way back and forth across the yard with a measuring tape and sketch book. I salivate over nursery supply websites like a pervert does over craigslist personal ads. I draw designs, I erase the designs, I add in paths and beds and ponds, then erase again when I realize I really suck at garden design. Then I draw again as my husband stares over my shoulder knowing not to make a single damn comment!

I know I will settle on a design. In my mind it will be a wonderfully ingenious mix of Japanese meets contemporary meets cottage wildlife garden. Lofty ideas of Better Homes & Gardens and Sunset Magazine filling their pages with the splendor of my garden remodel fill my head. And all this will be accomplished by the end of summer.

Then, I will sit at the kitchen table, look out on my gorgeous expanse of Japanese-wildlife-modern-cottage creation and feel not disgust, but super happy joy and will be hit with a tremendous surge of creative power to fuel my writing. Words will flow, pages will fill, books will be published…

Until, I start to look at the inside of the house.

12 thoughts on “Garden Obsession

  1. The problem with conceiving a beautiful garden design is… you’ve got to weed the darn thing. My daughter, God love her, planted our garden one year in this very creative design (something akin to a Matisse painting). Then, she got so busy with other work that it started looking more like a Rorschach blot.

    Anyway, I recommend you just cover up your window with some nature scene poster and write to your heart’s content.

    Thanks for the post. I like your writing style.


      1. Then by all means, plant that garden of your dreams. Weeding is good for the soul. I’m just allergic to anything so closely resembling work. Have at it.


  2. Don’t give up! The soil may be muddy, but if it’s clay like mine (sounds like it–I’m also in the Northwest, and have to avoid walking on any garden soil or it will turn hard in the summer), it’s richer in nutrients. Even in the shade (especially if you can reflect some light down somehow) you can grow greens, and of course there are those wonderful climbing varieties that reach for the sun!


    1. Yep, more clay than a potter’s factory! We’re aiming to get rid of most of the grass and incorporate more paths and beds for shade plants. That’s the plan anyway. For now.


  3. It sounds like a good plan and I’m sure your hunky husband will be right beside you. I’ve seen that huge picture window and the view was spectacular. I do understand your mud problem. My parents had it in Arkansas much to my mother’s dismay. I on the other hand have too much sun here in the high desert. Have you thought of trading houses with your sun blocking neighbor? lol Don’t give up!


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