Peggy Martin has found her voice and she's not afraid to use it.
No, Peggy Martin is not the new cast member in the latest Real Housewives franchise. She's a climbing rose, and she means business.
For the uninitiated, Peggy Martin is an incredibly tough, not to say indestructible, climber who came to fame after surviving 2 weeks under water following Hurricane Katrina. Her reputation for strength is what drew me to her, but of course it didn't hurt that she was gorgeous. I loved her when I met her and I love her now. But lately, all we do is argue.
Things were fine in the beginning. Quart-sized Peggy was so sweet and innocent when I brought her home, kind of like the pollywog in Stranger Things. I had just installed a shiny new trellis and with her help I was going to make the cover of some English garden magazine. Peggy couldn't have been more obliging, obediently threading her way up the lattice and bursting into sensational bloom in spring. She was refined. She was elegant. She was my gardening dream come true.
Those were the days. Today, Peggy is no longer interested in being a prop in my twisted English garden magazine fantasies. On the contrary, she seems to be showing, if I may borrow a phrase from Miss Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, "an abominable sort of conceited independence." Nobody tells her what to do.
Yes, Peggy has her own agenda and it does not involve sitting politely with her hands folded. Peggy has lately informed me in no uncertain terms that she is sick of refined and has no interest in elegant. Further: she can no longer squeeze into a size 6 and deeply resents being told she should. And while we are on the subject, it was not she who chose such a pathetically small trellis in the first place. Bottom line: Peggy needs to be her "authentic self."
At first I tried reasoning with her. I understand, I said. You feel demeaned, objectified. You are tired of being defined by the reductionist patriarchal view of your role in this garden. But you're a rose, for heaven's sake. It's your job to be ornamental. (OK, now I was lecturing her.) We live in a society, I continued. You can't just do whatever you want. Do you see me walking the dog in my pajamas? No you don't. And it's not because I don't want to.
Powerful arguments, but Peggy was unimpressed. So I reached for the loppers. Strike 2. Severe pruning got me less than nowhere (not for nothing is it also called "rejuvenation" pruning). The effect lasted about a month, after which Peggy looked like Alice in Wonderland after the "Drink Me" episode.
So for now there's a standoff. Peggy demands respect; I want the old Peggy back. Peggy is the Madwoman in the Attic; I am a horticultural lookist. We can't go on like this. We're running out of room.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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