Embarrassing Garden Moments and Garden Book Giveaway

So my Garden Book Giveaway project has not exactly been proceeding according to schedule. Initially it was supposed to be every Wednesday, then every other Wednesday. Now it’s pretty much a random event. I think this is what physicists call entropy.


However, all is not lost. For today we are giving away another garden book. This time it’s Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing, and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants, by Robin Stockwell.



To win this book, you must answer the following question in the comments:

What has been your most embarrassing gardening experience?

As always, the winning answer will be selected by a panel of unindicted Chicago Aldermen, along with a special guest panelist. This week’s guest is soon-to-be former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Rex has the distinction of being the first U.S. Secretary of State to be fired via Twitter, which really underlines the grave importance of the job.

Please submit your answers by Monday at 12 PM. Regrettably, only residents of the USA and Canada can win the book.

I’m going to kick things off by sharing my own embarrassing garden moment (and no, I’m not competing to win – I already have the book).

When I was 14, I helped my brother Richard and his college friend Julian run their summer landscaping business. This was in suburban Long Island, outside NYC.

One day we were working on a home located at the end of a downward sloping drive. The drive was bordered by an ivy-covered stone retaining wall. My job was to clip back the ivy using an electric hedge trimmer owned by the client.

There were electric outlets, but these were located next to lighting fixtures at the top of the wall (do you see where this is heading yet?). So the power cord is hanging down from above the level where I am working on the ivy.

Sure enough, after a while I feel this warm, intensely tingly sensation where my hands are holding the hedge trimmer. I looked down to discover that the power cord, partially cut, is caught between the teeth of the hedge trimmer. Also, that I am slowly electrocuting myself.


Long story short: after alerting my brother, we made a quick run to a friendly hardware store where we bought and installed a new power cord. Our clients were none the wiser, but I was not allowed to use electric tools for the rest of the summer.

OK, your turn.


32 Comments on “Embarrassing Garden Moments and Garden Book Giveaway”

  1. Probably not the most embarrassing thing ever, but each year I look like a complete doofus when I set up the watering system for my vegetable garden. I use a pivoting sprinkler mounted on post in the center of my garden, so that the sprinkler turns in a circle and systematically waters my entire garden. But the adjustments are never quite right from year to year, which means that I have to turn the sprinkler on to see how well the water is covering my garden. And if it’s not, I have to run up to the sprinkler head and re-adjust it while it’s spraying in the opposite direction– before it can complete it’s turn and completely soak me. So every yera my neighbors get to see me play this cat-and-mouse game with the sprinkler. Run up. Adjust. Run away. Repeat.

  2. That’s a pretty funny story, Jason, but only because you survived being electrocuted! I haven’t had any caffeine yet this morning, so I can’t think of any embarrassing moments in the garden, though I know I’ve had plenty. I’ve done the sprinkler dance like Maria, and I know I have stumbled over something in the garden several times winding up flat on my back or bottom. But wait, now I remember–the incident that has become family lore is the time I was tilling up my vegetable garden with a large rear-tine tiller that my husband had just bought from a friend. He showed me how to use it, then went back to mowing the lawn. I started the thing up, but it was way too powerful for me and roared off on its own. Thankfully, there were some bushes in front of it that stopped its progress, or who knows where it would have travelled. Meanwhile, I am flat on my stomach in the dirt, yelling “help” to my husband who is mowing and blissfully unaware that a loose tiller is about to dig up his precious lawn. Needless to say, I never used that thing again!
    Maybe for your next giveaway you could invite a panel of fired White House executives–there seems to be a growing supply:)

  3. OK, almost electrocuting yourself is bad, but have your ever painstakingly transplanted what turned out to be ragweed? In my first year as a gardener, I actually thought I could grow perennials by seed by throwing them directly into the garden. When something began to emerge in the vicinity of where I threw some coreopsis seeds, I assumed the seedlings were indeed coreopsis. Reasonable, right? But they weren’t in exactly the right spot, so I moved them to a better location. Only later on, when they persistently refused to look like coreopsis, did I refer to an Identify That Weed manual and discover that the plant I had lovingly transplanted and watered all this time was ragweed. I call that embarrassing.

  4. That is one book I don’t have (and I LOVE succulents!) so I’ll throw my hat in the ring. Practically all of my embarrassing moments have been what I refer to as “ultimate” newbie gardener mistakes. The biggest one was in my first tiny garden – literally postage stamp sized, where I planted up one corner with herbs – including mint. In the ground. And let it go to seed. Enough said. Then there is the 1st time I used mulch in an ornamental bed surrounded by grass. I not only didn’t pull the weeds up or put down any weed suppressing cardboard/newspaper (I mean, the mulch would smother the weeds, right??), but I also didn’t edge, simply laying the mulch right up to the grass. Needless to say, the bed looked great for a few weeks and then was taken over by grass and weeds galore. A definite “what on earth was I thinking” moment.

  5. My gardening friend when jobbing as a landscaper for a builder was asked to plant some conifers for quick effect. No doubt to impress a customer! Against his better judgement on a snowy frosty morning he had a real struggle getting them in.
    When he returned the next day he found he had planted them in a tarmac path.
    I don’t qualify for the book and I don’t read them anyway!

  6. The book looks really interesting. I love succulents, but wish I was better at growing them. There’s always something weird going on in my garden that can’t be explained, except a bad choice was made or something was ignored too long. I think my most recent “embarrassing” thing was trying a new trellising method for the tomatoes that didn’t really work and I just ended up with piles of tomato plants laying on the ground. A jumbled mess of tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash. Honestly, I don’t they produced any less, they just looked awful. Glad you survived your electrocution. That always makes me nervous to have cords hanging about. I’m sure one day I’m going to run over the Christmas lights extension cord with the snowblower. (btw, I think the 200 candidates running for IL attorney general would make good judges for a future give-away)

  7. Goodness, I embarrass myself every time I open my mouth. How do I choose from the many, many times I’ve been mortified? I really want this book. Like others in above comments, I’ve fallen and soaked myself with sprinklers too often. I feel judged and in a fishbowl every time I garden in my front garden in my grubby dirty clothes (“There’s our crazy neighbor!”) Just yesterday I was yelling at my own neighbor’s yappy little dog that had gotten loose and was running like a manic wind-up toy through my own garden, “Get the F— out of my garden!” when I realized said neighbor was right nearby and had probably heard every word. We both shared a rather mortified look. So that must be it.

  8. Your description of the electrocution would be entertaining except that it was a threat to your life. I’m glad you were OK. I had a similar experience with our first ancient dryer that apparently couldn’t be grounded correctly, or something. But gardening embarrassments … hmmmm … like the others, little embarrassments happen regularly. I can’t really think of one specific one … maybe the numerous times when I step on a spade shovel to make a quick cut into the soil and get nowhere, until I put all my muscle behind it. That must look really funny to the neighbors!

  9. No more books for me but your story brings back some memories. I was trimming some yews that used to grow around the deck. I was using my hedge trimmer and going happily along when I cut a large paper wasp nest in half. What was truly is amazing is that I outran them and did not get stung. I just threw that trimmer down and flew like the wind. I am highly allergic and at that time I did not keep an Epipen around.

  10. Glad you survived the near-electrocution! That is scary. The sprinkler dance is too familiar to me. I have a lot of privacy, however, so my garden antics are rarely witnessed. But one year a neighbor had walked up the road and stood watching, unknown to me, as I attempted to adjust the sprinkler. Finally, when I was thoroughly soaked, he had the audacity to comment, “I think the sprinkler is winning.”

  11. So, it’s just a lucky chance that you are here at all. I hope you don’t dice with death like that now. One of my embarrassing moments came earlier this month when sick of the freezing cold weather I put on a riduculous furry onesie with bear ears that my son gave me a few years ago. I totally forgot I was wearing it when I decided to tidy up the front garden and I couldn’t understand why every who passed by and stopped to chat was clearly struggling not to laugh. Mind you, a woman of my age dressed as a bear might look ridiculous, but I was lovely and warm.

  12. That is not too embarrassing. I have cut a few telephone and electrical cords, mostly for outdoor lighting cords that were hidden in hedges.
    My most embarrassing moments were not my own, but were those of my readers. I will need to write about this one. I had a reader ask about a new pistache tree that was just installed at the curb. It had been deteriorating since it was planted, even though she had been checking in on it daily. She had been watering it daily, which I told her would be a problem if she continued to do so, but did not believe that it had become a problem in the week since the tree was installed. Then she told me that she went over to Saint Joseph’s Cathedral to get a gallon of holy water every day to give to her tree because she really wanted to take care of it. Oh my! I had to be the one to explain to her that it was probably the ‘saline’ holy water that was stressing the tree. Holy water is salty for a few reasons, one of which is sanitation. Regardless, it is too saline for a new tree to tolerate. The tree recovered and should be doing well by now.

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