When I became an adult I got married, bought a house with a yard and learned to garden. I joined a gardening club. My husband says I’m desperate in everything I do. I left the house one day to go see the garden of one of our club members. She was retired. Her garden was beautiful, and she was teaching us about pruning. We all brought our hand pruners and got to try out everyone else’s. In broad daylight, I lopped off two branches of hydrangea before realizing my mistake. “You have to cut above the bud,” Anna said. “Don’t worry. Hydrangeas grow on dead wood.” I watched her trim the same branch down to the next bud and she said to me, “Like this? Now try on that other cane.” I did it and felt a little better. We went next to a row of Buxus sempervirens, shaped like balls along the ground. Anna showed us how to use gloved hands to feel for the shape, distinguish the new growth from the old, shear back the new growth from the top down to the correct shape and step back after every cut to check the overall form. We all got to feel the plant and its denseness, and touch the leaves and branches. She said not to be afraid of pruning because plants always grew back. I knew that since I was young, but could not believe it when even the carrot head I used to place in saucers of water would only grow briefly before dying. I knew that was because of a lack of nutrients. Anna’s carrots would always grow, I thought, and her hedges and bushes, trees and flowers. When I went home and struggled again with the dandelion roots in my garden, I thought that perhaps my carrots don’t grow, my bushes look spindly and half-dead, and my flowers bloom late because I am not fully adult yet. I told this to my husband when he got home from work. He said I was probably thinking too much and he could call a weed control company to come on the weekend. He forgot though, and I didn’t want to remind him.

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