My husband and I have lived in our home for nearly three decades. I remember our very first spring: just after we finished unpacking our few belongings, we visited the local farmers market and bought a half dozen tomato plants. That year, and every year thereafter, our favorite garden activity was to nurture those tomatoes through the scorching summer months and then, beginning in late August all the way through to the first frost of late fall, we would relish in the plump, juicy, and sugary sweet harvest that we picked with our own two hands.

I also tended to a small herb garden and trimmed the hedges but for my husband, he was all about the tomatoes. He would water them, add coffee grinds to the soil a few times a season and keep a vigilant watch for groundhogs and birds that might threaten our precious crop. For decades, my husband was a veritable tomato man.

But lately, I have noticed a real change in his attitude toward our yard. Surfing the internet one day, he came across an article about hedges. It showed picture after picture of gardeners and their newly designed hedges. Some gardeners had trimmed their hedges into whimsical shapes like hearts or diamonds while others began to cut their hedges into narrow high and tight lines. Some gardeners were getting so fancy in shaping their hedges that they carved their initials right into the center of a clover or tulip design. Most of the gardeners were women but few young male gardeners also displayed some real creativity in sculpting their own hedges.

Last week, my husband suggested that if I didn’t want the burden of the creation and upkeep of the fine detailed work of designer hedges, maybe I should simply remove the whole line of bushes altogether.

After reading that article, my husband shared his discovery of this new fringe hedge trimming pastime. We were both impressed and amused that there were people in this world who had the time, energy, funds and desire to sport designer hedges. Together, we laughed and laughed at this singular expression of narcissism that would have human beings so focused on their own hedges.

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Prior to his internet discovery, my husband never paid any attention to the simple row of hedges that lined the front of our home. As far as he was concerned, the hedges were mine and mine alone. And I was happy to be their sole caretaker. Every spring, after the new growth had sprung from its winter slumber, I would set out with my clippers and neatly trim the bushes. I thought I’d always done a fine job. And though some years it may have taken me a few extra weeks into the spring to address the hedges, causing them to look a bit jungle-like, they never got to the point of looking neglected or unloved.

In my opinion, my hedges were perfectly hedge-like. They were exactly what hedges were supposed to be.

But my husband disagreed.

After that first article, he soon found more and more written by professional hedge designers who seemed to have thriving businesses in every American town. Some days, I would catch my husband staring at my humble hedges. I assume he imagined all kinds of design possibilities. He became so enthralled with the hedges, that he lost all interest in the tomatoes. I would beg him to nurture the tomatoes the way he used to when we were first married. But this man, once completely obsessed with tomatoes, now confessed that if you’d seen one tomato, you’d essentially seen them all.

But hedges! Hedges were a daring new love of his. Since the hedges were my domain, he would hint and then down right beg me to do something drastic to enhance them. He suggested that I shape them or at least adorn them with a few patriotic ribbons for the Fourth of July.

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I resisted.

To me, I could not bear the thought of the additional work that would be required to keep my hedges looking as trim and inviting as all of those hedges he’d bookmarked and shared with me online. Exasperated, he finally suggested that he take over the trimming duties. That worried me even more. What did he know about trimming hedges? Would he could mangle them or create some crazy, intricate design that I would have to maintain once he got bored with the whole hedge craze?

Last week, he suggested that if I didn’t want the burden of the creation and upkeep of the fine detailed work of designer hedges, maybe I should simply remove the whole line of bushes altogether. He said that some gardeners preferred to tear all the growth out from the roots once and for all. He said he was convinced that the house would look newer once the old hedge was completely gone.

In response, I exhaled loudly and explained that no matter what the hedges looked like, the house was still old. Even if I did agree to endure the physical pain of balding the front yard, there was nothing that I or anyone else could do to make the house new again. Quite simply, it’s an old, dusty and broken down house that has serviced our needs for many years. And, it will continue to service us into the foreseeable future, assuming the man that I married long ago doesn’t get so fixated on the hedges that he begins to fantasize about moving on to a new house.

I assume my husband’s obsession with hedges is just a phase. But it does make me sad that he is so singularly focused on my hedges these days that he hardly pays any attention to my tomatoes. I guess it could be worse–at least he’s not one of those guys who wants to hang out on the back porch all day.

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