This July, the Isle of Man held it’s annual Flower Festival.? For an idea of what one is like, click here.? Although it is a nice event, I was never a part of the decorating of the churches for the Festival.? I’m not a “flower guy.”? I have nothing against flowers.? I like flowers.? Some of my best friends are flowers.? Well, maybe that?s pushing it too far, but I do enjoy having flowers growing around the yard, as long as I don?t have to plant and care for them.? Fortunately, my wife feels much the same and the only flowers she wants from me are roses on our anniversaries.? I started by giving her one on our first anniversary, then added one rose each year thereafter.? Now that we are heading toward our forty-second anniversary, it is becoming an expensive tradition.? The local florist makes enough to pay the month?s rent when I call each December.
Although I am a Boomer, I?m not a ?flower child.?? That is not to say I do not know a calla lily from a chrysanthemum.? Where we live, the daffodils and rhododendrons herald spring with bright blooms that I love.? I just don?t want any part of bringing them to that glorious state.? Why is it that I enjoy seeing flowers, yet have a strong loathing of digging in the dirt?? Therein lies the tale.
My mother loved flowers and my dad loved a neatly trimmed lawn.? So almost every Saturday as well as Sunday afternoon the family seemed to spend mowing, edging, weeding, trimming or fertilizing.? Not only that, many an Easter vacation and much of every summer was devoted to making our little plot of Southern California green and blooming.? Not my cup of dandelion tea.? Add to that moving into new, bare-lot tract houses when I was six and again when I was fourteen, my dislike grew stronger.? For those of you who have never had that experience, if you?re lucky, all you have to clear are weeds and do a little grading before you plant your lawn and flowers.? At worst, you start by raking out creek-bed rocks and small boulders before bringing in clean top soil.? The latter was the case for our second house.? Not fun.? To top it off, I earned money during high school by hauling off weeds and rocks for the developer from unsold houses in the tract for a summer, then provided lawn care and gardening for neighbors.? By the time I hit college, my dislike became loathing.
After I married and my wife and I moved into a house, I did keep the grass cut and trimmed.? My rough guide as to when it needed to be done was when small dogs and children got lost in our grass.? As soon as we could afford it, I hired a gardener.? I would rather work overtime on something I didn?t detest than cut another blade of grass.? Oddly enough, I started to suffer from severe hay fever when I mowed the lawn, so I now have a valid excuse.? Can hay fever be psychosomatic?? Then we moved to the Isle of Man in the British Isles, where gardening is second only to having a pint in the local pub.? Even before the pub to some, and that?s saying a lot.
The Isle of Man is most famous for the TT (Tourist Trophy) Races, when the northern half of the Isle is periodically shut down for a two week-long biker blow-out and motorcycle races.? The ferries are packed with Yamahas, classic Triumphs and Moto Guzzis at the onset and after the races are over.? The Prom (Promenade) along the bay is lined for two weeks with motorcycles, parked handlebar to handlebar.? But this late May to early June big biker bash is but an interlude from the real British passion: their gardens.? The churches even compete in flower arraigning for the Manx Flower Festival in July.? Any time the sun is out in spring and summer (which was spotty, at best), most Brits are out plowing, planting, and pruning.? The humblest cottage greets each spring with a profusion of colors, with annuals, biennials and perennials carefully nurtured to great beauty.? While I can appreciate their glorious display, I am not willing to pay the price.? Well, that?s not exactly true.? I hired a gardener who did a fantastic job of keeping the garden looking spectacular.? He even planted herbs like cilantro, dill and basil, which helped our cooking.? But I never embraced that fine British tradition of putting on the old dungarees and puttering around in the garden.
While I was on the Isle of Man, I was in the Manx Classic Car Club, The St. Andrew?s Society of Ramsey and the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, which were in line with my interests.? If any avid gardener reading this ever moves to the Isle of Man, please join the Manx Plant and Garden Conservation Society so that they don?t think all Americans have black fingers, which is the British term for the opposite of green thumbs.