Gardening Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Gardener’s Car is Always Dirty

20161019A.jpgIt is impossible for me to keep my car clean…. and that’s because I garden.

The back seat of my car regularly carries plants, dirty tools, half open bags of compost or soil and much more. Basically, not a week goes by where something potentially messy doesn’t end up there. And no matter how careful I am, some of that dirt remains on the floor and the seats which then take an irregular brown coloration, regardless of their original shade.

At the beginning of every gardening season, I do try to be careful, willingly accepting the offer of the garden center to cover the back seat with a sheet of plastic when I arrive with a cart full of plants. Later in the season, when the garden center makes the same offer, I always turn it down: it’s far too late for that. “Just stack the plants as best you can, on the car floor and on the seat.” The important thing is that there be enough room for me to fit in… and sometimes the I find myself driving home with one hand while holding back the jungle so I can at least see where I’m going.

The Annual Attempt to Clean My Car

20161019C.pngI’m pointing this out because this week, I intend to pay myself the luxury of going to the car wash and having my car cleaned inside and out. (I’m far too lazy to do it myself!) This, for me, marks the end of the outdoor gardening season. Plus I figure I deserve a clean car once a year. My hope is that the car will at least remain presentable for the winter months.

Of course, the gardening season never really does end, does it? At the very least, there’ll be Christmas plants to carry in December, plus the needles from the Christmas tree (even if I attach it to the roof, they always end up infiltrating the car and covering the floor and the back seat with a thin layer of crunchy green). Let’s say then that I want the car to remain relatively presentable for the winter months.

Far From Alone

The important thing it to be able to see where you’re going!

However, I always feel relieved when I realize I’m not the only gardener in the same situation. When I get a ride with one of my gardening friends, I always hear the same thing. “I’m sorry if the car looks a bit dirty, but I just bought a bunch of plants”, or “I was just over at my sister’s place, putting in a few plants, and I forgot to put those shovels away”, or “can you hold this plant on your lap while I’m driving? There is no room in the back”.

Besides, there is never a question of anyone actually sitting on the back seat of a gardener’s car. It’s absolutely certain that the space is taken up by something horticultural, no matter what the season.

That’s what I like about gardeners: we understand each other, even when it comes to our dirty cars!20161019b

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

3 comments on “A Gardener’s Car is Always Dirty

  1. Thanks for this post–it made me laugh (with self-recognition, of course!) I have a Honda Fit, which is wonderful for transporting plants because the back seats fold down flat–I call it my little truck! But that just means I fit (pun intended) more mess-making stuff in it. I do have a great liner for that space (a tailored tarp with loops that go over the back of the front seats so it stays up–used to be available at Lee Valley, not sure if they still carry them) but yes, some stuff always escapes. I did my big annual car cleaning a couple weekends ago…and then promptly loaded in 3 bales of straw the next weekend. Oh well, I guess the mess is a small price to pay for the joy of gardening!

  2. 🙂 I’m lucky I have a van and a suv. I keep a large shop floor mat in the back of both which I can drag out and shake off. Keeps ‘most’ of the car somewhat clean. 🙂

    • I chose a Honda Civic hybrid: little car, with a huge battery behind the back seat that leaves little trunk space and means you can’t put the seat down. I need that seat for plant transportation!

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