Second Wind: You can still garden if you’re a geezer |

Second Wind: You can still garden if you’re a geezer

I love gardens, except when they’re sexually active. Right now, my house, car and self are covered in male germ cells – pollen. I call it tree sperm – boy botanic cells out floating through the air looking for the girl cells.

So, yes, my garden is a hot bed of sex and probably so is yours. It’s mating time for plants – nothing to sneeze at.

But that’s exactly what we are sneezing at – all the little pollen bits that make up Allergy World. Still, don’t let the sniffles turn you away from gardening. Take a pill and remember, no matter how old you are, gardening is a wonderful way to forget your troubles. There’s comfort in roses; peace in lilies. Even a red geranium can give a girl hope.

So, though sneezing all the way, I continue to love gardens and think it’s significant that Eve didn’t start off in the City of Eden or the Mall of Eden. It was the Garden of Eden.

But what happens when we older adults find our bodies are no longer like easy-care perennials, but more like fussy plants that don’t do what you want them to?

The answer? Keep digging ’til you drop, but change how you do it.

Geezers in the garden

Here are a few hints to keep our green thumbs in action no matter how old we are:

Check out the long-handled garden tools available in plant nurseries. When trowels and other implements have longer handles, we who are over 50 have to bend less. Easier on the back and knees.

Look for garden stools that reverse to a kneeling platform with handles to help the gardener get back up. Find them at Search word is kneelers. Check out the knee pads while you’re there.

Get the garden up to your level instead of kneeling down to it. Make window boxes. Plant pots that are attached to walls or railings. If you are really into gardening with a lift, build raised planters. Also try vines, but if they get too high and rambunctious, then you have to prune from a ladder, perilous even if you’re 20. Also, if you have money to spare, a greenhouse would be very nice with its countertop gardening and easy-reach plant care.

Go miniature. Try bonsai. Try ivy topiaries or smaller indoor plants.

Don’t injure yourself hauling dirt and plants. Use carts and wagons.

Get in condition. Seriously, gardening can involve long hours of bending and hauling so it’s nice to have a body that is flexible, strong and resilient. You will be able to do longer hours in the yard if you do some hours at the gym.

Try morning or late day gardening to avoid the heat. Take your water bottle, your hat and your sunscreen out to the garden. Your phone, too, so you won’t run for the phone and trip over the hose.

If you want to travel and still have a garden, check out watering systems on timers. They range from elaborate irrigation systems that are computer-controlled to simple soaker hoses on battery-operated timers. With timed systems, your tomatoes will get watered even when you’re at the lake.

Don’t have a heart attack over deer damage. Spray around your plants with Liquid Fence and the deer will move on. Liquid Fence smells as you spray it on, but the smell disappears fast from human radar.

When it comes to gardening, keep on keeping on. Research shows that gardens relax people. And who of any age doesn’t need more of that?


The author of four nonfiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh is the host of Second Wind (The Good Life After 50) on KVMR-FM, 89.5, Wednesdays, 1 p.m. Write Mel at or at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. More info at


Want to read more? Check out “Accessible Gardening” by Joann Woy. See also “Gardening Through the Golden Years” by Jim Wilson. The Brits offer a Web site for gardeners who never want to stop gardening: For a source of local inspiration, check out the gardens at the Empire Mine State Park.

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