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What makes someone who loves to dig in the dirt and play with plants different from other people? What are the signs of someone on the verge of becoming a complete horticultural extremist? Here are symptoms you should be aware of.You view the arrival of a new garden catalog as more exciting than a delivery from R.C. Willey. The idea of buying and planting a new tree in the yard sends chills down your spine, while the idea of a picking out a new couch gives you a headache. You know that maple is a large tree, not a color for an entertainment center. When visiting Disneyland, you spend more time looking at the topiary than you do going on the rides. In fact, to the dismay of your family, when traveling on vacation, you are more likely to stop at an unfamiliar tree and spend an hour or two identifying it, rather than visiting what you set out to enjoy. You know where the botanical garden is in every town you visit, but you can’t locate a rest stop to save your life. You spend more time at a garden center than at the grocery store. I think this is an unfair criticism since all you find in a grocery store is food—and most of it is in cans. Everyone knows the best produce is grown in the backyard garden. You know the difference between dirt and soil. Dirt is that substance you sweep out of the kitchen or peel off in layers from a five-year-old’s face. Soil, however, is that precious material that takes more time to prepare than your teenage daughter’s hair before a date. You view “The Victory Gardens” on PBS as a spiritual program. You believe the creation of the Home & Garden Television Network was inspired. You record all specials on gardens and plants so you can view them later whenever you feel depressed and need a quick legal rush during the long winter months. The flu outbreak worries you to the point of getting a $15 flu shot. But, the hint of anthracnose or leaf blister spreading to one of your trees keeps you awake at nights, and eventually prompts you to spend hundreds of dollars on chemicals and books on magical incantations for trees. When you discover your neighbor has a tree with borers, you stand guard-duty all night to make sure they don’t cross over to your property. When purchasing a truck, you ask how many one gallon perennials you can fit into the bed, not how many miles per gallon it will get. The back seat and the trunk of your car have transported eight flats of annuals, ten yews in five gallon pots, three apple trees, two bags of compost, and a shovel . . . all at the same time. When invited to someone’s home for a party, you can be found off by yourself observing the landscape and plants in the backyard while the rest of the guests take a tour through the house. You critique most landscapes you visit (but not to the owner), and are willing to go an extra five miles out of your way to drive by a tree or a landscape design you really like. You think “Victoria Secret” is a new salvia variety that hasn’t been released yet to the public; and the only celebrity you want to see is a red, ripe one hanging on the tomato vines in the garden. Royalty and Aristocrat are ornamental trees, not a description of wealth or class, and a Goldenchain is grown in the front yard — not hung around the neck.
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