Each weekend at least one stranger pulls into my driveway to tell me how much they like my gardens. Normally they are looking for an opportunity to take a closer look. I like the attention and love chatting with other passionate gardeners. However, this weekend was different. It was a beautiful morning and I was weeding and rearranging my out-of-control sunny border. Dirty from head to toe and on all fours planting, I hear a voice from above – “helllllooo.” I turn my head and the voice says, “Don’t get up.” Don’t get up? Do you know how hard it is to have a conversation with a standing adult while you’re on your hands and knees – so, of course I stood up. My impromptu unknown visitor tells me know how much she admires my gardens. I thank her. She then shared her sad story (abreviated version here). She purchased $200 of plants the day before, tucked them snug next to the garage and then went to dinner with friends. When she came home that evening, she found all the plants were eaten by a woodchuck. She was very upset. I showed empathy, affirm that I would be devastated too; and told her how sorry I was for her loss. I even offered to give her some plants. She purchased the plants for more August color in her garden. She said she could really use some advice. I took my cue and began describing the plants in my garden that bloom in August. She interrupts.
She explained that she has bad knees…family lives in California…doesn’t know if the young men she hired last year are available (I didn’t say, “Did you call them?”). She noted that her home was on a house tour in August and she needed some advice to help her garden look good. I ask if she wanted to tour the gardens and I'll tell her about the August blooming plants. I ask her to tell me a little about her garden; and start walking. She follows for about six steps and stopped. Clearly she was not interested. She mentioned her knees again, and told me where she lives, again. She would love it if I would stop by to check out her gardens and give her some tips. I am a very willing garden coach when friends ask, however my schedule does not allow running all over the county to give garden advice. She wasn’t interested in my gardens; she just wanted a good gardener! It took 45 minutes of precious garden time for me to figure that out. What did I learn? I need a more efficient screening process for strange visitors.