An Underground Affair

First published in Greenwoman #4, December 2012.


“Naked Ladies” by Laura Chilson


Do you remember your first kiss? How about your first lover? Well, during winter, that’s what we gardeners must do. We must remember the sweet earth of our gardens, even while it’s blanketed and hibernating under ice and snow. I’m living without my husband again, therefore, my sexual relationship is nil. If you’d like to think of me engaging in infidelity, go for it. I’m boringly devoted, though. Ignore that for this column. Let’s pretend I’m very naughty and am having an affair with the bulb. Like winter can be for gardeners, traipsing around with the memory of luscious dirt on our hands and longing for that tactile transference between hands and earth, we can envision all the boyfriends (and girlfriends) of our past in full detail. I remember one of my Berlin boyfriends, when I lived there as a nanny, to have a particularly sweet breath when he blew on my ear. Oh my, here we go. I’m planting the memories of every Berlin boyfriend in the ground this fall. What will spring bring me?

What possibly can a currently sexless gal say about sex in the garden at this time of year? My friends tell me—talk  about the produce section, sexy vegetables like cucumbers and the longer sweet potatoes. But I’m thinking of a certain tactile tuber, glabrous yet man-like. And the image of a flowering naked lady. Although these “naked lady” bulbs don’t grow in Colorado, in my California childhood I planted them with my grandmother. Grandmothers can be sexy, c’mon. Instead of a MILF, the ones who hold bulbs in their hands loosely, and drop them gently into the crevice of the ground, those are called GILFs.

That particular bulb got its name or its “nakedness” from their bulbous promise, when they jut forward in Spring, thrusting up only green spikes, without anything to show, naked, in fact, until at the ends form a bulky bud. When their flower pulses forth, opening into, in this case, an amaryllis, their ruddy pinks aren’t bashful as they dance in your front yard.

Which bulbs give you the most wham-bam-thank you-Ma’am for your buck? There are too many to list but some of my faves are the many hybrids of tulips. Plant them anytime; but usually, in Colorado, you’ll need to open the earth as it still offers a supple surface, mostly in late September or October. Crocus, hyacinth, and mini-daffodils cluster around the spring, popping color at your feet, as if you are the queen and they cower and lust for your presence. Plant the tiny joys around the tall and papery iris and you’ll be sure to excite anyone walking by in spring.

Not all bulbs are bulbs. You can’t be fooled by their testi-like appearance. Corms are described as being “swollen, underground” and only have one “growing point.” A gladiola and crocus have this base. There are rhizomes which lay on their backs, growing horizontal. Lily of the valley will take over a whole yard, inseminating the air with their heavy scent, but only in milder climates with enough humidity (U of I, 2012). Denver would have to exhale, all at once, an exalted breath after sex, to create that kind of humidity. Tubers mass-propagate the dahlia and begonia, bulbs broad in the middles, pulsating out in bunches under the surface tuft (Dave’s Garden, 2012).

What can a gardener do with these tempting underground treasures? There are so many bulbs, and so much lust for the earthen tubers. One bulb enthusiast had a positive experience planting the naked lady, or amaryllis, in Tucson. She wrote, “I’m from Tucson, AZ and my Uncle Charlie brought some bulbs out from Minnesota to me. . . I have planted them on the west side of my home but has afternoon shade from my Southern Oak trees.” Joan Bolten (2012) of Santa Barbara Garden Design claims on her blog: “In August, the show begins, seemingly overnight. Stout, brownish-purplish stems rise rapidly out of the earth.” The rising is what sustains our thoughts through winter. In spring, as with all creatures, the libido returns, and our buried jewels thrust up from a cracked, warm earth.

Bulbs are like an orgasm, they will burst forth in folds if you coax them out of the ground. Bulbs promise spring sex, and, during the winter, we can envision scenes of their jutting forth. Plant them in Fall, and sense their growing interest, as they sustain your enthusiasm through winter. One day you will see flat dirt. The next, a shoot will be unsheathed, and finally, you’ll see gold, purple, reds, oranges, and pinks dot and dance, undulating and naked. What would my grandmother think of this carnal scene? Well, she’s the one who planted them. I’m sure she remembers all the boyfriends of her past, too. We’re all human.


  1. Joan Bolten, Santa Barbara Garden Design,
  2. University of Illinois Extension. (U of I). 2012
  3. Dave’s Garden

ElisabethBorderFF copy

Born in Northern California, Elisabeth Kinsey was raised among her Italian and Jewish families. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Denver. She teaches writing (redundant but rewarding), and her published works appear in Greenwoman Magazine, Ask Me About My Divorce, Seal Press, Wazee Journal, The Rambler, and Emergency Press among other journals. Elisabeth can be called upon to speak about: divorce, zone 5 gardening, and Northern Italian cooking.

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Upon This Diversity, the Garden Rests


Statue of Liberty Arm, 1876, Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Via Wikimedia Commons.


As I prepare to do a bit of fall cleanup and plant my 510 flower bulbs, and we all prepare to vote, Tricia graces us with a “riff on the Statue of Liberty.” Perfect!
—Sandra Knauf

Upon This Diversity, the Garden Rests

the withering
end of day lilies
your tired, your poor

huddled masses
the knockout roses

the squash and cuke
climb the trellis
tempest tossed

calendula and yarrow
the golden lamp

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website:

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Image from Wikimedia Commons, attributed to


The gesture of October is sneaking
rain-green back into dry moss,
painting north to drop
hand-me-down leaves
to the ground’s open palm.

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website:

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Vegetable Love

Greenwoman Comix Heading USR_edited-3


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Today through Saturday, October 1st – ZERA AND THE GREEN MAN – 99 Cents!

Zera Pin - Green Woman I'm a Firm Believer

Quote from Zera and the Green Man (drawing by Mike Beenenga). All posters are by Lisa Repka.


I should have told everyone about this Monday, but it’s been one of those weeks.

Anyhow, my young adult novel is on sale, Kindle edition, and I think you should download it today or tomorrow! I really want you to read it!

I’m currently making notes for the sequel, and will be writing it this fall and winter.

Here’s the link! Tell your friends!


—Sandra Knauf


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Backyard Chickens


Photo by Tricia Knoll. Tricia says the chickens are from Broadfork Farm, Trout Lake Washington, where she farmsits once or twice a year. She mentions that she might do a Broadfork Farm chapbook one day. I, for one, would LOVE that! – Sandra Knauf


We get it!
We get it – no roosters!

The coops go up,
cuter than cute.

Free-rangers strut
pompons on parade,
stick-legged chicken races
finish photos on Facebook.

and raccoons sneak
around the condos –
henitentiary fortifications

Do senior chickens
who no longer lay
collect social obscurity?
Who broils Flocksie and Tottsie?
The Buddhists won’t.

But the eggs, the eggs!
Sunshine yolks
nestled in blue, green,
brown and ecru jewel boxes.
The eggs!

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website:

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Apples are Ruling My Life


“Eleven million apple trees in Virginia produce fine fruit for the markets of the world with plenty of culls for canneries.” From the Library of Virginia’s 1939 World’s Fair Photograph Collection.

When I close my eyes, I see apples. When I step out my back door, I smell apples. When I look out my front door and windows, I see apples clinging to the trees and lying on the ground. For several weeks as I lie in bed at night I hear them falling, landing with a hollow thud.

We recently moved to five acres in Penrose. The half-acre, wedge-shaped orchard has thirty mature trees, twenty-five of them are apple and twenty of those are loaded with fruit.

Everyone I talk to, I ask if they’d like some apples. I cut and core apples for sauce, crisp, and pies. I freeze apples, I juice apples, but mostly I pick up and sort apples.

Initially I had three grades; human consumption, horse or deer consumption, and compost. Now that the neighbors’ horses are “appled out” and we aren’t going to Cedar Heights to feed the deer, I only have 2 grades; consumption and compost. Wormholes, bird pecks, squirrel bites, bad bruises or sunburn doom an apple to compost.

If I pick up the apples that fall daily, it takes two hours; if I miss a day, it takes four hours. I can empathize with migrant workers and they do this all day every day, with no end in sight. My livelihood doesn’t depend on my speed, however my sanity does, so I try to work as quickly as possible.

The apples are various sizes. I can barely pick up two of the largest ones in one hand, but I can handle six of the smallest. The taste varies too, sweet to puckery. Some have thin skins and other thick, some have small dark hard seeds and others pale soft ones. The colors vary greatly: deep crimson, wine purple, rose to pale green and light yellow.

As I’m picking up apples, I am sampling the fruits from the trees, determining my favorites. One tree seems to have two different types of apples, on one side, the apples are considerably smaller. Maybe it is the amount of sunlight since I don’t see a graft line on the trunk where the branches connect.

One tree is the favorite of the birds. I don’t know if that’s because of its placement in the orchard (it is shaded by a large elm) or the quality of the apples. There are no apples left on that tree. I didn’t like those apples too much, I thought they were mushy.

I had to get a handle on all these apples. The boxes were filling up the garage and I’d contacted everyone I could think of that might like apples. I called Care and Share to see if they were interested in apple donations. The guy I talked to was thrilled. “We’ll take all you can bring us,” he said. I felt such relief. I’m composting apples that I’d be using in a lean year and feeling guilty about it, so now I can feel good about my apple picking efforts. So far, we’ve taken three loads of apples to C&S – about 1,000 lbs.

A few weeks ago when one neighbor told me that I should spray my apple trees, I never dreamed that I’d have this many. Of course, I told him no. I want my apples to be organic and safe. It’s nice to have plenty to share with the birds, squirrels, rabbits and of course with the hungry people of Colorado Springs.

I figure that I still have a few more weeks of apple-ing before all the trees are bare. The strange thing is that I still love apples. I eat stewed apples everyday for breakfast and have several while I’m working in the orchard. When I get thirsty and come into the house for something to drink, you guessed it – I have apple juice.

I’ll enjoy the fruits of this summer all winter and to encourage next year’s crop perhaps I’ll follow the tradition that Thoreau writes of in his essay, “Wild Apples.”

“. . . on Christmas eve . . . they salute the apple-trees with much ceremony, in order to make them bear well the next season . . . This salutation consists in ‘throwing some of the cider about the roots of the tree, placing, bits of toasts on the branches,’ and then, ‘encircling one, of the best bearing trees in the orchard, they drink the following toast three several times: —

‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst, blow,
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats-full! caps-full!
Bushel, bushel, sacks-full!
And my pockets full, too! Hurra!’ ”

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Pat Cook Gulya enjoys Colorado living; biking, hiking, gardening and attempting to capture such experiences through words. She teaches and practices yoga and now has the luxury of living rather than worrying about making a living. She grows a variety of plants in her urban yard, and, thanks to Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, can now cultivate a favorite plant. Her work has been aired on NPR affiliate, KRCC’s, “Western Skies” and published in Greenwoman Magazine, Senior BeaconSprings Magazine, and The Gazette.


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