Is your garden an arbitrary stupid goal?

August 14, 2022

Is your Garden an Arbitrary Stupid Goal?
What kind of arbitrary goals can you come up with? Not just in the garden – but in life?

Is your garden an arbitrary stupid goal?

The correct answer is yes.

I’m looking for a new book to read over the upcoming holiday break.  I want something that lives up to my last read – Tamara Shopsin’s Arbitrary Stupid Goal.

Any suggestions?

I was drawn to Arbitrary Stupid Goal when Austin Kleon mentioned it was a favorite from his own reading list last year. He promised quirky autobiographical characters that live in my dream ‘hood. (NYC’s Greenwich Village).

The opening describes a family that once took a family vacation by mapping their way to places that had ‘Wolf’ in the name. So, Wolfpoint, Wolfville, Wolf Lake, etc.

It’s all based on the fact that their last name was Wolfowitz. It was a random trip full of third-rate or non-attractions that were actually amazing.

When I was dating my (now) husband, we took a road trip out of Washington, DC (where we lived at the time). Very much falling in love, we haphazardly took off on Labor Day weekend and navigated purely by the alphabet.

The “alphabet trip” (as we affectionally still refer to it) was a directionless Wolfawitz-style holiday. Our “A” town was Annapolis, Maryland. I can’t remember what “B” was, but C was Chestertown, Maryland, which had the most amazing crab soup, served with a shot of sherry to pour over the top.

As we carried on, “J” was Jersey City, and we arrived at the northernmost point “N” – Newport, RI – as the whole town was being boarded up for the arrival of Hurricane Edouard.

Achieving the alphabet was our arbitrary stupid goal…and I could not help but think, as I read the book, that I don’t currently have enough arbitrary stupid goals in my life.

Lately, the only place I let them sneak in is in my garden.

Here are a few of my arbitrary stupid gardening goals:

Can I grow enough strawberries to get all my friends drunk in an epic fresh-from-the-garden daiquiri barn party? 

(A: Yes, yes, I can)

Let’s grow every variety of horseradish we can find to see which is the hottest. 

(this was one of my grandma’s arbitrary stupid garden goals when I was a kid).

My friend Matt grew a mind-boggling amount of sweet peas a few years ago – just to learn about them, write about them, photograph them, and ultimately throw a pretty party with them.  

(ok, maybe that isn’t quite as arbitrary, given he’s a garden writer…but I think you get what I mean)

There are the giant pumpkin growers.

Those who pursue the blue daylily.

Or maybe someone just wants to make something delicious in the kitchen from something not bought at the grocery store.

The best gardens are a bunch of arbitrary, stupid goals.

Sometimes, it is better to drive with no final destination. Maybe chase a storm?

Create. Experiment. And then don’t be afraid to tear it all down and start again.

Find more ways to be arbitrary and stupid, not just in the garden but in life.

What sort of arbitrary or stupid thing have you been up to?

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  1. Cortney D says:

    Thank you for this post- I often find myself trying to justify (almost always to non-gardeners) the cost, space, and time we put into the garden… but I shouldn’t have to. I do it because I love it, because I can, and because getting our space to match the vision in my head is a perfectly wonderful arbitrary stupid goal. Love it. Happy Holidays!

  2. Leilani W. says:

    I am not a great fan of roses, but I always thought it would be nice and inspiring to have a rose garden that only contained roses named after a specific person.

  3. Linda Askey says:

    Years ago I visited New Orleans with a friend who had inherited an astonishing amount of silver flatware. Of all the various specific pieces in the collection there was no marrow spoon. Marrow spoon? So we hunted up and down Magazine Street and beyond. We saw stores that could have been museums, and eventually we had a choice of marrow spoons. (Disclaimer: I don’t eat meat, much less bone marrow) We had so much fun, but until now, I did not know it to be an Arbitrary Stupid Goal. Indeed, that describes my garden, as well as OCD Challenge and Collector’s Money Pit, not to mention Pretend Designer’s Puzzle Board. Thanks for the read.

  4. Andrea says:

    Love this! Thank you for posting.

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