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On Finding the Strength to Say Goodbye

Handful of Blooms

A fantastic afternoon of weeding, digging, and readying my garden beds for fall has allowed me to put things in order and also to come to a decision I’ve been wrestling with all summer: The marigolds, they’ve got to go.  

I realized that I really needed to take charge of the situation after glancing at them the other day when coming inside. My reaction was “Ugh” for the ten millionth time, even though I found myself checking for seeds just the day before. I haven’t been happy with them for most of the summer, and even though they’ll continue to bloom untill fall, I think I need to just bite the bullet and get rid of them. I don’t like them, and especially with my compulsion to save seeds, I need to make a decision now before it’s too late and I find myself growing them again next year.  

Normally I have a “show no mercy” garden philosophy; when I don’t like something I rip it out. But this summer I’ve been oddly controlled by something, unable to make a decision on what to do, and the thing that’s been controlling me is guilt. People, it turns out, really like marigolds, they’re one of the most popular garden annuals, and I feel guilty that I’m not one of them. They were “discovered” in Central America in the 1500s, and are used prominently in India. They’re globally loved. I just don’t love them, and I’m finding saying goodbye kind of like finally deciding to move on from a relationship that isn’t working, when the only reason you’ve stayed together as long as you have is because everyone thought you were such a “cute couple”.  Marigold, you’re everything I could possibly want (fall color, easy to grow, etc.) but you’re just not the right plant for me. I’ve spent too long ignoring these signs, trying to give you a second chance and will myself to like you.  

  1. I don’t like you as much as I used to: Marigolds were my favorite flower when I a child. One of my strongest early gardening memories is caring for “my” marigold (one of four from the four pack my Mom picked up for me, my sister and two brothers). I was surprised by how different each flower could look. I assumed that I’d love you as much as back then, but just like Spaghettios, they’re not what I remember. I still think your flowers look pretty cool, but your shrubby foliage turns me off. I was thrilled when you started growing, even happier when you started blooming, but did you have to thrive as much as you have?
  2. I’m tired of making excuses for you: Even with how I’ve been feeling, I still make nonstop excuses on why you’re still around, being the first person to point out that marigolds are known to repel insects.  I think I could live with a few more insects since I haven’t be able to like you better. Like living with plastic on your couch, it may make it easy to clean and protect against spills, but if you don’t like how it looks or are driven up the wall by the squeaky noise you get while sitting, why would you put yourself thru it?
  3. We have a history: I protected you from the cutworm attack from earlier this summer, incensed that that nasty thing could do so much damage in such a short amount of time. Since I protected you then, what does that say about me now that I know that I’ll sheer you to the ground and let your roots compost? But being with you since spring doesn’t mean you’re destined to stay in my garden and we both know it.  It’s sometimes necessary to move past what you have had and make a different kind of future. You need to go now, before your seed is fully ripened and I’m compelled to start drying seed.
  4. I don’t introduce you to my friends: I’m more than happy to take any friend showing the slightest interest thru a tour of my gardens, and am even happier to give a rooted cutting or division from some of my favorite plants, but I pass you up every time.  I have a name and story for everything. To me modest marigold, you’re just a packet of seed I picked up when I was out shopping. You’ve grown but just haven’t grown on me.
  5. I’ve already checked out and moved on. Now that I’ve finally decided, I’m already looking forward to next year, something else will be in your place, you’ll just be a memory. And now that I’ve come back from the hardware store with some delicious looking fall mums, I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon.

In memory of the marigolds now gone, a few more blooms: 




Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.  ~Jean de Boufflers  


3 comments to On Finding the Strength to Say Goodbye

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