Murphy Strikes Again!

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in June 1988 in the Canadian Garden News.

I first learned of Murphy’s Law (Remember? ‘Everything that can go wrong will.”) in chemistry class but over the years, I have come to the conclusion it was originally written by a gardener.

No matter how hard you try to put all the chances on your side, something will inevitably go wrong and your garden just won’t have that “House and Garden” magazine look it was supposed to have.

You don’t believe me? Try reading over the following list of things I have noticed and see if they don’t really apply to you!

Photo : Gustavo Fring

Did you ever notice. . .

That you can never get grass to grow in your lawn, but it always thrives in your flower garden?

That when after five years of waiting, your lilac finally does bloom, it’s never the colour it was supposed to be?

That the grass really is greener in your neighbour’s yard?

That the reason your neighbour’s grass is greener is that he sprays his lawn with weedkiller. . . on a breezy day when the wind is blowing directly towards your flower garden?

That if you plant 25 seeds, either nothing will come up or 436 plants will?

That it will rain every day of your vacation while, back at home, your plants have keeled over because of severe drought?

That if you plant cold weather crops, you’ll have a warm summer and if you plant heat-loving crops, it will freeze in mid-July?

That your garden-sown plants will grow like weeds until after you thin them to the right spacing, then cutworms will knock over the rest?

That pesticides never turn out to be efficient at the recommended concentration, yet if you exceed the dosage by one drop, it will kill off your entire garden?

Photo : Cottonbro Studio

There’s more!

That as soon as you finally decide you’ll never succeed with rhododendrons and decide to yank yours out. it will suddenly burst into perfect bloom?

That the temperature alarm in the greenhouse will perform perfectly during your weekly tests but will fail the very day the heater goes on the blink?

That if you try growing fruit trees in your tiny back yard, the best fruit will always be produced on the branches that reach across the fence to your neighbour’s?

Your garden will look its absolute best until the day the executive of the hort society comes over for tea. then everything will be covered in powdery mildew?

That the Farmer’s Almanac is always absolutely right until you finally decide to follow its advice, then will have an off year?

That the dwarf pyramidal juniper you put in your rock garden always turns out to have been a California giant redwood?

That, after telling your son not to bring his caterpillar collection into the house, he’ll always release it in your vegetable garden?

Photo : Greta Hoffman

And more!

That the truckload of “topsoil” you spent hours carefully spreading over your entire lawn always turns up to be herbicide-contaminated sand coloured dark brown with charcoal dust?

That, after having carefully chosen your new home for its perfect exposure, all three of your neighbours will immediately plant fast-growing shade trees within 6 inches of the property line?

That if you ever call up the radio garden host for help, the show inevitably ends before they get to you?

That the lush green colour of your lawn in early spring always turns out to be due to a healthy crop of dandelions and crabgrass?

That your exhibition dahlias will always reach their peak the day after the dahlia show closes?

That no matter how great the expertise of the person to whom you entrust your houseplants while you are away, you will come back to find your prize ones dead?

Photo : Sasha Kim

That if you put in perennials to save the effort of replanting annuals yearly, you’ll inevitably have to spend 5 times more effort on weeding?

That you can’t possibly have a lawn if you have kids and/or dogs?

That a brand new insect pest will suddenly show up for the hedge you so carefully planted for its total insect and disease resistance?

And finally . . .

That, no matter how many things go wrong in your garden, enough things go right that you’re willing to start all over again next year?

Good luck with this summer’s garden!

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, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

5 comments on “Murphy Strikes Again!

  1. The grass is always green on the other side of the fence because it is artificial turf.

  2. Christine Lemieux

    I can relate to many of these. But this one kills me: soil that is “herbicide-contaminated sand coloured dark brown with charcoal dust” ?

  3. Larry hit the nail on the head. I can relate to almost all of it. Good chuckle to start the day.

  4. Amen! ?

  5. ingerknudsen

    very very funny I can relate to every single thing Especially the last sentence

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