When you live with a gardener, it’s important to have ground rules, especially when it comes to new cars. If you don’t establish boundaries with us, we’ll put the darndest things in that vehicle, things that are guaranteed to take away the new-car smell.
I married a car guy, one who loves heavy metal as much as I love the garden. So when we purchased the convertible of my spouse’s dreams – a sweet Volvo C70 – he sat me down, gently took my hands, and laid down the law. “That is a luxury vehicle,” he began, making sure we had eye contact. “Promise me you won’t put plants in it.” I nodded yes.
“No straw bales. No buckets of fish for the pond. No flats of seedlings.” Nod, nod, nod. “And honey,” he said, leaning slightly closer for emphasis, “no – absolutely no – manure.”
Before you get the wrong impression, let me say that my spouse normally doesn’t get heavy-handed with me. But in this circumstance he knows me well, and knows that in the frenzy of spring, I’ll pack the car brim-full with supplies and plants, without regard for upholstery, carpeting, or vinyl.
Because his request was reasonable and we do own a pickup, I happily agreed. After all, I have rules, too, out in the garden. No stepping in the raised beds. No using weed whackers against the tree trunks. No picking flowers unless you ask first (this is for the children in the neighborhood, but my spouse thinks it applies to him, and I let him).
In the 18 months we’ve owned the car I’ve done well with the rules, only getting away with a few seedlings in the trunk by placing them in a plastic box designed to keep the carpet dry. But this all changed in the second spring of ownership, when fruit trees were offered for sale at a local store.
“Let’s see if they have what you want,” my spouse suggested when spring storms were keeping us from yard work. And off we went, to discover that the store had one remaining Honeycrisp apple tree, a sturdy sapling as tall as I. I was overjoyed.
Proudly we wheeled it from the store to our car, where we realized that, in our haste to go shopping, we forgot what we went shopping for. My spouse glanced from car to tree, tree to car. He opened the trunk and attempted to tuck it in. But it wouldn’t fit, and after one look at my crestfallen face, my spouse sighed, shook his head, and put down the top of his beloved convertible.
It turns out that seat belts are remarkably good at crossing the container and trunk of a tree, so that the sapling could ride home in safety. Slowly we drove through town, cruising at a sedate 20 mph. A fine spray of soil and mulch arose from the container, swirling to coat the interior as we headed home.
Drivers behind us were not impressed, but when they honked I waved a hand at the tree and they seemed to realize what we were doing. Either that or they were stunned speechless to see a tree strapped in like a toddler in our car.
We arrived home without mishap, the honeycrisp is planted and the car has been vacuumed. Sitting down together later that day, my spouse took my hands, looked into my eyes, and gently began “promise me you won’t put more plants in that car….”