People sometimes ask me, "What's the dumbest question you've ever been asked?" I scratch my head for a moment and reply, "If the sky were cheese, could you eat it?"

"No, no," they say. "What's the dumbest gardening question you've ever been asked?"

That question goes something like this.

"Dear Grumpy, our tree did not leaf out this spring. Now it's July and it still has no leaves. Do trees sometimes skip a year between leafing out?

Answer: Sure -- just like people sometimes skip a year of breathing.

For those of you still not sure whether the answer is yay or nay, let me be more direct. NAY!!!!!

Except for desert plants that respond quickly to the presence or absence of water, any common garden tree or shrub that refuses to leaf out in spring or drops all of its leaves in spring or summer is a goner. Dead. Past-tense. Kaput. It doesn't skip a year. You can dress in robes and chant around it during the harvest moon all you want, be it ain't coming back. You'll have to buy a new one.

O-o-oklahoma, Where the Grump Goes Sweating O'er the Plains


This week, I'll be paying my second visit to the outstanding Linnaeus Teaching Gardens at the Tulsa Garden Center. (I wrote about it last year. See "Top-Notch in Tulsa."). My first visit was to scout. Now I'm bringing back photographer Van Chaplin to shoot the story. Barry Fugatt, the Garden Center's Director of Horticulture, assures me that a cold front will miraculously move through Tulsa tonight and drop the daytime temperature to 82 for the rest of the week.

Barry, I'm counting on you.