Football player topiary

The Football Garden

            Football is played on an expanse of ground a hundred yards and more by half again that, about the size of George Washington’s vegetable garden at Mount Vernon, but a football field is all green grass, carefully clipped and watered.  Think of all that green space.  We gardeners start to wonder why gardening is not a spectator sport.  Let's bring on the NGL!
            Tear the roofs off the protected stadiums.  Let dozens of men plow up and down the fields of grass, tilling, shoveling, hoeing.  Each down is a touchdown, with the planting of a seed.  Each seed is a first and ten (or a hundred), one seed reaching up and finding so many fruits and vegetables, flowers and berries that no one person can keep score without help.  We need dozens of people on the sidelines with headsets, keeping track of everything with the help of those in the highest boxes of the garden stadiums.  The referees on the field give each plant its space, throw flags at weeds, molds, rusts and bugs.
            Maybe gardening doesn't look competitive, but it can be "blood sport"—biggest pumpkin, plumpest eggplant, brightest tomato, hottest pepper, most aromatic basil, most tender squash, most productive okra.  And try growing peanuts and avocados in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, or wisteria in Green Bay. With training, of plants and caretakers, it can be done.
            The crowd is roaring.  The Bears at Soldier Field have grown artichoke plants larger, more tender, and twice as productive as the Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, in spite of extra money spent on fertilizer, and the hiring of three extra plant coaches.  Commentators wonder if the Colts overdid, risked too much as the season ended.  Fourth and five plants to go, and they went for it.  All of us second guess the coach, the extra heat from the solar panels that backfired into the wilted end of several careers.
            We hear a cheer as the home team corn is passed around stadium.  The Steelers have grown sweeter, fuller corn that the Ravens--who ate much of theirs on the way to the Heinz Field.  They should have brought a scarecrow with them, but they fired him toward the end of the season and are waiting until next to start fresh.
            These gardening games, spectator agriculture, lead to plants nobody could have expected. Maybe it’s the warmth of human beings watching, maybe the crowd noise, the bands, the cheering, but we’ve never seen gardens like this in all of human history.  The NGL ends with a super bowl, everything from all over the league brought together, everything judged for color, shape, health and taste.  And everyone is fed.  And everyone goes home a winner.  We all love the NGL.  We go home to compost and plan.  We can't wait for next season.


"The Football Garden " first appeared in Flint Hills Review









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Football player topiary

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