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Gardening As A Couple: Haven or Hell?

Gardening as a couple Two gardeners sharing one space; haven or hell? Scott Simon joins Ketzel as she arms herself with mike and pruners and steps into the marital fray.

Kari and Bob
The Workmeisters

Gardening is a joy. Relationships are a blessing. Now, let's get real.

Bob and Kari Workmeister are my neighbors. I know for a fact that they're good gardeners; committed ones, too. But the truth is, they each have very different gardening styles, and it's tough to share the same space when you don't see eye to eye.

Not that you'd know if from looking at their garden, a little dream of a place with flowering shrubs and flickering trees. Yet Bob can barely tolerate all the exuberant greenery, and Kari dies a little every time Bob decides to prune.

Overgrown path
A charming scene, no? Love it, says Kari. Chaos, says Bob.
Red-Twig Dogwood
Sticks or shrub? Much better, says Bob. Oh God! Kari cries.

Notice the shrub-lined path above (left). Kari loves all the tumble; Bob is itching to whack it back. Which is precisely what he did to the red-twig dogwood (above, right) which had insinuated itself right into his face and across his path. (In Bob's defense, this was clearly the case of right plant, wrong place).

Purpleleaf plum
This purple-leaf plum has been a continued source of marital stress, but Bob compromised on his pruning and did a fabulous job.
Side garden
When the couple is in synch, all's right with the world. The side garden is a study in romance: pinks, purples and lots of thyme.

Given how personal our gardens are - and how much they reflect our individual style and aesthetic - it's pretty astonishing that Bob and Kari manage as well as they do. Personally? I'd have a hard time having an equal partner in the garden, but trust me, I'm not bragging. Couples who can garden together successfully have twice the resources at their grimy fingertips, and an ever-present audience ready to celebrate their achievements and spur them on.

I can dream, can't I?


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