May is here, and once she steps onto the scene, resplendent in dazzling dresses of yellows and greens, our eyes – so dimmed by winter’s punishments – first brighten, then glaze over again; and we walk straight to the nearest horticultural vendor like lambs to the slaughter. We hand over pieces of plastic in exchange for something green, something new, something fun, something that speaks of long summer nights on the deck with friends or quiet moments in the mornings with ourselves. In other words, we impulse buy like there was no tomorrow. And we wake up the next morning, and though our hands are chapped and our plastic cards are melting, we find ourselves doing it again.
Though I know her tricks, I am not immune to May’s seductive caresses, nor her power to intoxicate with fragrance far beyond the skills of Ralph Lauren. I know that a hole must be dug for every plant, a place must be found for every ornament, and a price must be paid for everything in this life; but that certain something in the air right now tends to erase all moments of rationality.
Still, compared to most of the lambs around me, I pride myself on getting out of these places relatively unscathed. Since I start hundreds of seeds every winter, I am rarely tempted by many of the vegetable and annual bedding plants that trip up the average gardener; and I only start stumbling near particularly alluring racks of cheap perennials – hoping to snatch up a deal or two to fill a difficult corner or cover a bothersome slope. May is the month for coupons, deals and specials on all things garden and it would take a stronger woman than I to walk past four bronze Heuchera for $10 without hesitating for more than just a moment.
However, you will be happy to know that there is a cure for May. There is a remedy for skipping through the nursery with stars in one’s eyes and finding oneself inexorably snared into an ecstasy of horticultural impulse–buying. Using this method, you will find your enthusiasm doused, your fervor scuppered, and your purse strings unceremoniously snipped.
All you need to do is take your spouse with you.
Ironically, my husband is well- practiced in the field of impulse buying. He’s one of those guys who instantly answers “Yes!” when a wily waitress asks if he’d like a side of scampi with his steak – adding eight bucks to the check with a smirk on her face.
When I send him to the store to pick up a gallon of milk there is a strong probability that he will come back with a Hostess Pie and six Slim Jims. The supermarket is a veritable wonderland for him; a place filled with all things processed and pleasurable. And on those occasions that he visits the magical kingdom without a nutrition-obsessed wife in tow, his interests run merrily from a box of Fruit Loops to a $6 DVD copy of ‘The Pink Panther.’
But a plant nursery holds no magic for the man.
Surrounded by thousands of gallon pots of May promise, his eyes instinctively do what they cannot in the supermarket….look at the bottom line. His face starts to tighten, his hands clutch at my elbow, his eyes sit back beneath heavy brows – and his mouth starts to form the words that will burst my bubble like an old pro: “You don’t really need that.”
I try to reason with the infidel. “Heuchera are usually much more expensive….I have a difficult area that they could brighten…I was only thinking last week how much I wanted to try a few…If I don’t buy them now they won’t be here next week….” Etc..etc..etc..
It is useless to argue. He ignores my pleading, and deftly moves the dozen or so plants I have so carefully selected back out of the cart, piercing me with steely blue eyes reminiscent of a Barbara Cartland novel.
“Ha! Let me count the ways…” I splutter, reaching for the last of my little loss–leaders.
“It is a rhetorical question.” he answers. “We came here for a bag of potting soil, remember?”
And I cannot answer. I no longer have the will. My enthusiasm for cheap drought-tolerants has just plummeted, and I no longer possess any desire to fight for them. Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow…
“And you’re not coming back tomorrow either.” says Mr. Omniscient with finality in his voice.
With all her wicked ways and feminine snares, you’d think May could try a little harder to seduce the man.