Sydney Eddison, a writer focused on the gardening genre, said “Gardens are a form of autobiography.”

Well, that explains a lot.

A couple years ago our lawn featured stripes reminiscent of an Augusta National fairway. I’d have been proud of that if I’d planted bentgrass and used a fancy reel mower to make them.

But alas, the grass was striped because of my attempt to spread fertilizer.

On my own.

Sure, I used a spreader.

A drop spreader.

Which I thought was a rotary spreader.


For the next two summers, those obstinate stripes nettled me.

I tried putting more fertilizer on the pale streaks.

The stripes traded places.

I tried fertilizing the whole yard the other direction.

To no avail.

My husband and I spent two summers of evenings on our back patio and watched the sun set over our pristine, manicured, striped lawn.

The following spring, we hired professionals.

Where’s the autobiography in that, you ask?

In the two hours I spent pushing ahead with what I thought I knew, I ended up with a criss-crossed, smirch on my pride.

Thankfully, there’s more to a garden — and our stories — than the lawn.

Green things push up through the dirt, sinking their sprouts into the hug of spring warmth.

Buds, like green driblets of hope, perch on the ends of locust tree branches, assuring us of winter’s redemption.

A picnic table beckons us to come, sit, laugh and feast again.

Patches of grass, thinned by the toes of little boys, green beneath tire swings.

Robins perch on the edge of stepping stones, indented with crooked mosaics of hand prints and variegated glass.

Stray tennis balls, forgotten for a season, tease puppies to run and fetch.

In my own side yard, a row of three trees planted for three sons stretches a little higher and casts a little longer shadow than the spring before.

Sometimes, gardens write our stories for us. Look close at the untended parts of the yard, and it’s as if Mother Nature watches and our every move, turning the autobiography into a biography from her point of view.

Molehills cluster in a corner and appear mountainous some days.

Milkweed lines the fencerow like a group of prickly, gray-bearded men, and upon which the fire of monarch butterflies will soon hover.

Clumps of angry crabgrass draw attention away from the gentility of bluegrass.

Weeds creep close to the fragile points of struggling bulbs.

A tank truck rolls down the street, emblazoned with a glowing, chartreuse example of a perfect lawn.

Which reminds me.

Some things are better left to professionals.

And when a professional can’t be summoned, as gardener and writer Michael P. Garafalo penned, “Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise.”

Amy Sorrells is a Zionsville resident and writer working on her first book. E-mail Amy at

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