As well as being a gardener, I am owned by two cats. As for gardening, I have tried to be a good gardener for a long time, but it’s worn me down a bit. The bags of mulch have worn me down, the maple trees have worn me down, even the chipmunks have worn me down, as they are small, but they are relentless. But when catnip stealthily snuck into my garden a few years ago by way of the alley, I dutifully weeded it out, because catnip is one weedy-looking weed, and I was worried about what it looked like. Then I noticed that when I brought in a bouquet of fancy flowers from the garden, the cats looked disappointed. Their eyes looked into mine. So there’s Rosa ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ their sad eyes said. “Where’s the catnip?” “But ‘Zephirine Drouhin’* is a special rose–it’s thornless,” I said. They look at each other. “Oh, all right,” I grumbled, and went out to find some catnip. Their joy when I brought some in was infectious, so I allowed some
catnip plants to find a foothold by the back door, in front of a fancy clematis. Soon, all you could see was catnip, which grows quite tall when given the chance. As well as picking big, juicy stalks of catnip for the cats, I started harvesting leaves for myself to make catnip tea, a soothing brew that cures the anxious soul of the gardener.
This is why I hesitate to invite the garden club over. They are nice, but I don’t think they’ll understand why there is a big clump of weeds by the back door. But my cats and I do, and that’s all that matters. And I enjoy my garden being a useful garden, and am reminded that almost all home gardens used to be useful gardens, and it’s only in modern times that the emphasis is so heavily on display. So my tomatoes grow next to the lilies, and the gooseberry bush is next to the hostas, and I am happy.
(The reader may notice that the sample of catnip shown here is a bit moth-eaten. But I ask you, have you ever tried to spirit a frond of catnip past two alert cats, even if it’s for a blog? So this specimen did get wrestled around a bit by the cats, but it’s the best I can do.)
*Please help me here by pronouncing this, as well as you can, with a deep, French accent.