Steve Bender, AKA The Grumpy Gardener, is a delightful curmudgeon, a skilled gardener, the Senior Garden Editor for Southern Living magazine, and the author of a very funny book on gardening.
We were lucky enough to have him as a guest on, The Successful Gardener, our WIXE radio show, that airs Saturday mornings from 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM.
Our sides hurt from laughing as we stood in the teaching garden at the Agricultural Center and chatted with Grumpy.
If you missed the show but don’t want to miss out on all the fun, you’re in luck! We have about 20 of the hardcover books in our possession. You can email Annie and she will set one aside for you. The books are $20 each and make great gifts for anyone who enjoys plants, gardening, or good humor.
Here are just a few snippets from the book.
“When anyone asks me what’s the best time to prune a mimosa, my instinctive response is, “Any time you can find a chain saw.”
He, of course, goes into much more detail about his initial love for and subsequent loathing of mimosas, but we don’t want to give too much away!
On African Violets:
“Nowadays, being given an African violet is akin to receiving your AARP membership card. It means you’re old, maybe on death’s door. Once the most popular of all flower houseplants, the African violet remains practically unknown to Generation X, Generation Y, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Millennials, and anyone who uses a smartphone to turn on their AC and dishwasher from another state.”
After reading the rest of the entry, it’s obvious that Grumpy is definitely a fan of this once-exalted plant.
While the book is heavy on humor, it offers a great deal more in sound advice for the novice or experienced gardener.
On pruning Boxwoods:
“The prettiest large boxwoods you’ll see result from a painstaking practice called “cloud pruning” performed with hand pruners. New growth is nipped back, and then small branches are removed from the insides of the shrubs to create openings between layers of foliage. The result looks a bit like a cumulus cloud. Opening up the bushes this way gives a natural look and also increases penetration of sunlight and air to the centers. Healthier bushes ensue.”
Have you passed up the tall lanky tomato plants on the sale table at your local nursery or hardware store for a bushy, more expensive plant just because it looks healthier? You might want to rethink that strategy.
“How to Plant a Tomato: Buy a tall, leggy plant. Strip off the bottom foliage so just three of four leaves remain at the top. Dig a hole deep enough so when you place the plant in it, only the leaves and an inch of stem will show above the soil surface. Fill in thoroughly with soil and water. Roots will form all along the buried stem.”
Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
Class of 2016