Fetishes & Obsessions

christinmk z5b eastern WAFebruary 26, 2012

The definition of the word 'Fetish': "object of obsession: an object, idea, or activity that somebody is irrationally obsessed with or attached to".

While watching TV the other day I heard (for the umpteenth time) a woman use the phrase "shoe fetish" to describe her passion for shoes and shoe shopping. I'm probably a poor excuse for a female, because I can't say shoes have ever held much of an interests for me at all. Quite frankly, I would rather go barefoot in the warmer months, lol. I do however, have a few garden and/or plant related fetishes!

Do you have strange obsession with a garden chore or project? Such as mowing your lawn, edging, weeding (boy, I wish I had an obsession with those last two, the gardens would look a LOT tidier if I did!), pruning that certain shrub just so, keeping your patio clean, rearranging plants in your garden, evenness and symmetry, etc? What bugs you in your garden if it is out of place or left undone?

It bugs me to no end when there is too much of any one color in the garden. Such as having too much yellow blooming in the same section of the garden at one time. I always have to shuffle things around to keep colors somewhat evenly spaced throughout the gardens or else I go batty!

Or do you have a strange fetish with a particular plant/plant group? I suppose a plant obsession can be rational, like if the plant does exceedingly well in your garden or region, you have enough room to accommodate it and have a real use and/or need for it in your garden. So (to my way of thinking at least) an irrational plant obsessions would be one where you keep acquiring more of a certain plant even though it has only performed so-so or hasn't necessarily excelled in your garden/region, isn't very useful, or you have ZERO room for in your garden but you feel you HAVE to get it anyway.

An obsession with a plant can also manifest itself in the form of a collection. You buy every different variety of a specific plant, hunting down each obscure species, doggedly scouring online sources yearly for any new introductions of that plant, all to add to your collection. You buy every different variety even though there doesn't seem to be a great deal of difference between them as far as looks go. For some reason you feel it is your 'duty' to buy them all for the sake of comparison. LOL! Any of this sounding familiar to you? ;-)

Is there a plant that could easily become an obsession for you if it isn't already?

I go through my spurts of interest and obsessions with certain plants/groups. Right now I have an heirloom eggplant fetish. I can't explain it! There is something so tantalizing and Jezebel-like in those gorgeous fruits. The funny thing is though, I can't say they are a favorite of mine as far as taste goes. I like them in certain dishes (dishes involving tomato sauce and tons of cheese naturally!), but in their plain state I find them unremarkable. Please don't ask me how many different eggplant varieties I have in my little seed box now, it is shocking! Lol.

I've experienced another flare up of my Geum-itis last year, which I fear will carry over into this growing season! I don't have the space for more Geum, many of them look similar to each other, they can occasionally be picky... there isn't a good reason for my adoration of them. Some people can't resist cooing over a cute chubby-cheeked baby, I unfotunaly tend to do it over Geum...which can be embarrassing in a crowded nursery setting ;-D

Ferns are an ongoing problem. I see one that is pretty or unusual and I always end up wanting it. Did I mention I have absolutely NO room left for ferns? Corydalis too. I've had only so-so luck with them in my region, more than half have proved to be duds, yet I keep wanting to try others...

Eupatorium (or whatever the "experts" want to classify them as now) could easily become an issue for me. If I had the space there might not be an end to the various varieties I would try out!

I've got other plant collections, such as perennial geraniums, campanula, polygonatum (not a big collection, but it would be a lot bigger if I could find local sources for unusual sorts or mail order places that weren't outrageous in shipping costs!), but many of them are good performers for me or useful in some way so not what I would call an "irrational" obsession, lol!

What do you have a fetish or obsession with in YOUR garden? As you have surmised, I am in the mood for a long chat!! ;-D


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For me? It's shoes, purses, roses and Snickerdoodle cookies with hot tea. ~Annie

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:15PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Over the years, I've had quite a few collections or should I say obsessions, African Violets, Fuchsias, Orchids, Epi's, Succulents, Begonias, Echinaceas, Tradescanthias and that's only a few.
Heirloom Beans have really caught my interest in the last couple of years, so many have been lost forever or are endangered. I must have over 100 varieties in my stash now, do I grow them all, no, but I search them out, the harder they are to find the harder I look :)


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 5:30PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Annette, that is a heck of a lot of beans! Lol. So how many varieties do you grow per year? I think I remember you once said you grew some at your daughter's place too? What do you end up doing with all the extra beans, any special dishes or just can the rest?

I have only grown scarlet runner beans for the past few years. They are my favorite! So tender and prolific once the temps warm. What are some of your favorite types?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 1:26PM
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My 'fetish' is that I plant almost all my beds in mirror reverse. It's kind of obvious (if you look) in the kitchen garden, but no one seems to notice, in the fairy garden or under the plum trees.

My 'obsession' would be that I love roses and I'm trying to get at least one from each category of old fashioned roses. At least, the ones that will grow in our area. I also like tea/potpourri herbs, which look great with the roses :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 1:40PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Christin, I only have room to grow 15 or 16 varieties each year, some of these heirlooms I have are very scarce and I only have a few seeds so I've been growing only for seed which I've been sharing with others and local seed banks.
Bagging flowers is a pain but if I want to make sure the seed stays pure it's a necessity in my small garden.

This year I'm determined to grow at least one variety just to eat, probably 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' one of DH's favorites, the rest we only get a taste if we're lucky.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 2:21PM
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I was terribly taken with Trycirtis hirta/Toad lily after planting some (bare-root) and seeing the bees nectaring (?) on the bottoms of the blooms. Why is it I wonder if that's where the nectar is? Anyway, I traded for tricyrtis seeds which I winter sowed and planted in a shady spot where I hope to spot blooms this year.

I admit it's daunting that dianthus b. doesn't bloom until the second year from seed but it's definitely worth the wait. D. barbatus 'Sooty' put on a dynamic display that will definitely factor into future garden designs, themes and plans. It was a big bonus the plants produced surplus seeds for sowing and sharing.

What was winter sowed most this year when compared to last? Anemone hupensis/Japanese anemone, hands-down a showy autumn-blooming perennial that produces prodigious blooms when many other perennials have petered out. What's not to love? Somehow I'll survive waiting to celebrate the pretty pink blooms of 'Margarete' until autumn 2013.

I'm on a mission to acquire Hakonechloa this year as I've patiently waited a number of years to do so. There were other priorities--my stone & brick walkways, a section of fence, the granite garden bench and patio--but those are finally all crossed off the garden must have/To Do list.

I was on the verge of succumbing to an attack of Echinacea lust in 2009/2010 but the combination (at the time) of the outrageous prices ($22.95 for a gallon pot?!) + stumbling on the winter sowing method nipped it in the bud (pun intended) and I shifted gears to the far-more obsessive activity of seed harvesting. I actually keep a spreadsheet where I not only note what's blooming in the garden each week from April to November but also which plants have seedpods on them. Have seeds = will trade. I traded for Crocosmia/Montbretia 'Lucifer,' 'Tower White' columbine and Cornus sericea/red twig dogwood among other seed treasures this year and they're sitting out on my east/west facing breezeway, cozy inside their milk jugs awaiting warmer weather.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 6:39PM
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I love Geums too-I have Lady Bradshaw and that orangey red does not go with one other plant-but I love her..so I have them kind of stuck everywhere.

I am drawn to plants with silver, gray or hairy leaves. Why? I dont know-my DH pointed it out to me, I didnt even notice it. Also I love any leaf thats varigated with white. Silver thyme, dusty miller, lambs ears, I have a variagated lacecap hydrangea that I love. But I dont like striped flowers.

And I move stuff around all the time-just dug up some yellow roses and moved them away from the light pink roses, wanted dark purple iris between them and underplanted with gray leafed stuff.

I know I look kind of nuts out in the front yard. I just stand and stare, and look and then grab the shovel and dig stuff up, dig a hole, plop it in, stare some more, dig it up move it to the right 6 inches. But what fun...and it beats cleaning the house...

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:37AM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Teakettle, we call that SALAT-ing (Standing Around Looking And Thinking). You may also spend lots of time on a WALAT (Walking Around...)

My obsession is with hosta. Love them. Have lots and always want more. I intersperse with ferns, hellebores, aquilegia, and other shade lovers, but the hosta are my weakness.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:08AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Don't forget CS (Constructive Staring) a must in my garden :).


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:17AM
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happyintexas(z7 TX)

I call it creative staring...without the staring, nothing creative happens. :0)

Antique Roses and daylilies bordered on obsession a few years ago...I had to slow down my collecting them because I was running out of room. I could seriously collect sedums and thymes...hmmmm...maybe I am, come to think of it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Chris_in_the_Valley(z7 MD)

My obsession with echinacea crashed and burned last year. Literally. Between the incompetent roofer who crashed old shingles down upon all the beds around the house and getting hit with aster yellows, I no longer have coneflowers. And I lost all my gardening mojo. The infected plants had to be destroyed - and because I was away when it first appeared all my echinacea became infected. What a chore it was. Those splendid plants were very well established.

I can't replant them for another year at least, so I need to find another clay friendly plant to obsess over.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 2:02AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Chris, I am so sorry about your coneflowers. How disheartening to have a disease like that ravage your collection and not be able to do anything.

Last year I had several things show signs of some sort of bacterial wilt. It was hard for me watching plants start withering one by one and have no clue what to do about it. I think the problem was mainly due to our soggy and colder than normal spring- conditions were ripe for disease.

Hope you find a new plant to obsess about soon!! ;-)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 12:37PM
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Campanula UK Z8

oh dear, geums have had me in their clutches too - and I struggle to even grow the G.rivale types. Over the years, hellebores, ornamental grasses, alpines, potatoes, campanulas (obviously) and, most expensively, paeonies. Not to mention deutzias and species tulips. And there are the roses, of course.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Chris_in_the_Valley(z7 MD)

Thanks for the commiseration, CMK. I think I'm going to go wide with sedum and with ferns. We are on the side of a ridge and have several wet weather springs, and one pond, up behind us. All that water usually disappears in August. I've found, surprisingly, that Sedum, while looking like a succulent, also works well in very wet conditions.

Campanula, I adore peonies, have moved them successfully, but I'm too intimidated by them to invest heavily.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 11:22PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-campanula, that is too bad Geum don't do well for you. What do you think is the reason? The chiloense Geums have never done well here. I think it is because they have a difficult time surviving our wet winters, although hardiness may be a factor too. I've had good luck with the coccineum and rivales though, as long as I divide them every few years to renew their vigor.

Have you ever checked out the Geum collection at Avondale Nursery? I stumbled across it a couple years ago and was blown away by their selection. Now if only I could find more of those varieties on this side of the pond!!

-Chris, you picked a fantastic group to start collecting! So many interesting kinds out there. Not sure you are interested, but here is an incredible site with a huge listing/image gallery of sedums: sedumphotos.net Just to help fuel your sedum obsession a little ;-)

Ps. Another obsession of mine- lists and note taking. I am literally swimming in plant related notes at my desk here, lol!! And you should see all the docs on my computer...Yikes!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 1:32AM
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My gardening fetish last year was about tieing up my Dahlias(35) and tomatoes(10). I ripped up a full jersey sheet, and at least a half dozen old t-shirts into plant ties. Every morning I filled my pocket with a handful and as I did my morning garden tour I tied up any lateral branches that seemed to need it. By the end of the summer I had 10-15 ties on every plant!. It might have been a little excessive, but I didnt have a single one blow down in the storms last year.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 8:19AM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

This year it is peonies. Already planted close to a hundred of them. Every year it's something else. My obsessions shift from one crazy thing to another :).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:11PM
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pat_tea(PNW, Van,WA)

Mine is Fairy and mini gardens. I started this in my woodlands to stay away from the dirt work that was going on around the house and keep me gardening. I became obsessed. Scoured thrift stores etc. for fairies and tiny things. You can check out my pictures and other's pictures
at a forum I started at:


    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:51PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

I wish I had a weeding obsession! I'm quite content to ignore them, and the garden looks it.

My first love was iris - the colors! the form! The intoxicating fragrance! I still love them, although I've mostly stopped buying them. (or at least I only buy a few and trade for lots more.) https://picasaweb.google.com/108274884195904363782/2Iris2010#

I've done a bit of peony collecting, just love their big blooms and easy care.

I didn't intend to, but somehow I have started a sedum collection, just because they're so wonderful.

And campanulas - must have 15 or more different kinds - just love dark purple!

Did I mention clematis. I'm not collecting them, but boy do I have an awful lot of different varieties.

I now have a shade bed and hostas. But I'm not collecting them. NO! I've seen what happens to hosta collectors, they lose all control. I've only got about 80 different ones, and in the hosta world if you don't have 200 you're an amateur. So I will have to stay amateur.

So no, I don't have any festishes or obsessions, just collections and loves. (and denial . . . .)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:53AM
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Thank you Cyn, Happy and Aftermidnight...its nice to know that what I am doing has a name. And it sounds like I am not alone!
Now I am off to do some serious SALAT, CS and creative staring...but as my DH pointed out-it looks completely different if you are doing it with a glass of wine in your hand (and not a shovel) :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Pat_tea- I like fairy gardens, too...but mine is full sized. The miniatures are so cute, but I wanted something the nieces could actually play in and enjoy. There are lots of roses, other flowers, herbs and even a little castle (fairy sized). They love it and it's a wonderful place to sit and have tea, since it's shady on one side, in the summer.

Here are a few pictures...and a link to your page. Your gnome home is adorable :) From Lavender's Garden

Fairy castle and fairy statue... From Lavender's Garden From Lavender's Garden

Here is a link that might be useful: Pat_tea's link

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 11:26AM
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I would say that you all described an obsession or an obsessive compulsive behaviour -- not a fetish. Fetish has a kind of sexual undertone- LOL. not exactly something that describes what we do like to do. For me, I love to collect seeds and I love to prune. In fact too much pruning.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:27PM
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LL, I love the pictures!

Mine is old garden roses; if something catches my eye I just can't resist. I'm hoping my husband is asleep tomorrow when my Alberic Barbier arrives (if I get it planted maybe he won't notice it, right?)

I counted my roses, it's well over 40 right now. I don't need any more. I don't need any more, right, I don't need any more...

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Ogrose- Thank you! I love old garden roses, too. I don't think you ever have enough, as long as there's still a place to plant...just one more :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Speaking of roses...why is it, every time I try to plan a vegetable garden, I start thinking what a wonderful spot this would make for more roses, maybe some herbs...a birdbath??? LOL

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 5:24PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-ianna, the word can actually be used various ways for different purposes. I think it is simply used more often nowadays relating to sexual themes! Lol.

I can only speak for myself here, but I have lusted pretty heavily for some rare plants before, LOL! ;-D


(plural fet.ish.es)
1. magical object: something, especially an inanimate object, that is revered or worshiped because it is believed to have magical powers or be animated by a spirit
2. object of obsession: an object, idea, or activity that somebody is irrationally obsessed with or attached to
make a fetish of neatness
3. object arousing sexual desire: something that arouses sexual excitement in somebody, e.g. an inanimate object or nonsexual part of the body

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Chris_in_the_Valley(z7 MD)

GottaGarden, Wow! First I'm in awe of the color combinations you've created with the irises. I love, love, love irises, but have the worst luck with them. Don't know that I've ever had named irises (or rather I've always been clueless about the names). I had some bronze irises I adored, purple irises that smelled just like juicy fruit gum, and many more. On my first property, after I moved all the ancient irises that were then growing in shade to the only sunny spot in the yard, we had a very wet spring and most of them rotted. The divisions I had hauled to Tennessee and planted in my sister's garden are still going strong, however. Then Mother had a stunning collection that were along side a shed and only visible to the neighbors, so I spent weeks digging a new bed in the hard clay soil and moved them. Only to have the cats find that the loosened soil made for a perfect litter box and scratched out the irises. Once again, the divisions I moved to Sister's house are going strong. I no longer dare touch irises.

Pat-tea and LavenderLass, I'm now inspired to create a fairy garden among the ferns.

Does it count as on obsession if I allowed cardinal lobelia to take over the entire border underneath the kitchen window and beside the back door? Working at the sink and watching hummingbirds is a great joy. And the brilliant color makes me so happy.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:56PM
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CMK, you are funny. I know what you meant. I, however, took my understanding of the word from Psychology Today.

Speaking of obsessions, I seem to have lost mine. I'm hoping to find it again. I've been so tied down with childcare issues and taking care of my aging parents and house keeping, so much that I find myself somewhat lost. I need to rekindle the thrill I used to get when just seeing a flower. I guess i have to get started with my seed collecting again.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 11:15AM
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Chris- That sounds like a great idea...fairy garden among the ferns!

Ianna- I hope you get inspired to garden, again. Maybe try something new? A new bed or garden theme? Do you ever think about doing your french garden style, again? That sounded really pretty :)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:00PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-ianna, LOL. It would probably take a shrink to help me get over my plant obsessions...not that I want to, lol!

Sorry to hear you have lost some of your garden mojo. :-( I'm sure your interest will revive once spring rolls around and you are able to visit some nurseries!

-Pat and LL, forgot to say the other day how adorable your fairy gardens are! An absolute dream garden for kids!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Ianna, I had the same thing happen to me when my son and his 3 kids (2, 5 and 8) moved in with us in our little house and I was working full time. Two are autistic (but high functioning, actually super smart!) When we offered we figured it would be for just a few months - 5 years later he remarried and everyone moved out; my husband and I partied for a week! However, even though I hardly knew them when they came, came to love them so much, and we did have fun!

I think with everything going on you just get so worn out that gardening is the last thing on your mind. I'll bet you when things finally settle down you'll get your energy back and be gardening like mad. That's what happened to me.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:24PM
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I would have to say edging is an obsession - and getting them straight and neat. If I sit in the garden and notice them being "off", I have to get up and start working. ugh. As the years go by, tho I must say I tend to sit a little longer before giving in. :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Thanks Lavender and Ogrosse. My parents came for a visit one day and never left (long long story). It was quite an adjustment for myself and my husband. Both parents are kind of 'high maintenance'. My father took ill this December while my husband was out of the country (several weeks). So I found myself in quite a strain - dealing with my full time and very demanding job, taking care of my daughter age 10 and running to the hospital to check on my father. Then of course it was the holidays and I was in charge of handling all the social events of my department (5 events) and then of course buying presents needed for Christmas. Anyway after this experience I just felt I needed to calm down somehow but escape isn't possible for me. I'm stuck and now gardening seems a bit blah to me. I know I'll find it again but at the moment, I am still on auto-pilot -doing what has to be done.

What I feel like is digging up the entire front yard and doing it over again. Chuck away all the plants I have there. But that' just wishful thinking.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:49PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Ianna ~ I can certainly relate to your situation as I have been taking care of my dad in this old house for more than 7 years now. When my husband and I moved here we were only going to help him get the house ready for sale; max. 6 months.....And while having a huge yard to plant anything I wanted, I started many obsessions, I also had to deal with my siblings obsessions too! That was no where near fun! You will find it again when things settle down again. I have "new normals" almost every week around here now! :)

With all the new shows coming out about crazy obsessions and strange addictions, I realize I am only a little obsessed! I have a thing for themed gardens, and just about every flower you can grow that isn't poisonous. Started a peony collection about 6 years ago when I put Dad's garden in. My mom's old peonies are still here in this yard and I have always had a love for those amazing huge blooms. She never had a pink one so I changed that first off. I now have 200ish peonies and lots of them are pink! More coming in the fall! I have since added irises, hostas, heucheras, lilies and daylilies. No official gardens yet. Rather just a yard for growing things......:) Love to hear about my fellow gardeners obsessions and fetishes. It could be Cabbage Patch kids! :)


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:04PM
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My husband says I'm obsessed with finishing a project once I start it. I don't agree with that, I just like to get things done!

As for plant obsessions, I seem to have hostas on that list. I love to collect them, and now I'm playing with seeds, and that's fun. I find myself checking them at least twice a day. Would that be an obsession? Yesterday I had a bare pot of soil, today I have seedlings that are coming up thick as grass! Things happen fast in the spring!

As for fetishes, well I can't say my fetish obsession (?!) is for plants. Rather I love to collect frogs and lizards for the garden. I have them sitting everywhere along the dry creek. And then there are the rocks. I'm in love with rock. My birthday present this year was a pallet of Arkansas stone. But it doesn't end there, we (and I'm including DH in on this) are rockhounds, and that means getting out there and hunting more rock. I've never met a creek or desert or mountain I didn't love! of course that means more rock to haul home and find a place for in the garden!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Mine is growing from seed. Almost anything. I just love to watch them sprout and grow. Luckily, I have my mother in law's garden to do as well as my own and plenty of gardening accquaintences to give out the extras to. And if all else fails, there's always freecycle.
As far as plants go, I love things with bright colors that look a bit unusual, or at the very least, different from what most of the yards around me have. My hubby shares my obsession of having something different. The houses around here all look the same, so we want our yard to stand out.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:16PM
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honalee, I'll bet your yard/garden is gorgeous! Wish we could grow peonies, but no such luck here in Texas. My latest obsession is with butterfly/hummingbirds, so am collecting a lot of Texas natives that they like, and that can take our heat... we have a long, hot summer!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Ianna- Why not? Why not change the garden? What would you want to change? Do you need to redo all the beds or just add a new/different focal point? Maybe some seating, arbors, benches, table? Do you still like some of the plants? Maybe you just need to rearrange a few things and add some others. That's what I'm doing with the kitchen garden and it's theraputic. I so love playing in the garden and just keep moving things around until I get it right! :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:29PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Teakettle said, "I know I look kind of nuts out in the front yard. I just stand and stare, and look and then grab the shovel and dig stuff up, dig a hole, plop it in, stare some more, dig it up move it to the right 6 inches. But what fun...and it beats cleaning the house... "

Teakettle, you my sister from another Mister! That describes me to a tee. I can feel the eyes of the neighbors peeking through their blinds - standing, staring, standing, staring. Little do they realize, the hamster inside my head is running furiously on his wheel. LOL!

Carol M. in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:17PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

I'm in the same boat as schoolhouse, it drives me crazy if my edges aren't just so.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:34AM
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