Gardeners' Olympics

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Bobbie Tripp, Baylee Rooksberry and Cody Tripp hustle to fill wheelbarrows delivered to the mulch pile by other volunteers at our Detroit Zoo Adopt-A-Garden. Our own version of a relay race. 

Late-winter daydreams of horticultural hoopla

Back when Janet and Margaret Thele hosted their Saturday morning radio show (greetings to all our listeners; you made those mornings fun), you helped us when we started kicking around ideas for events which would showcase the special skills gardeners develop. We didn't then find a sponsor to host the competitions... We wonder if the idea might be viable now, in these days of oddball reality shows.

From our notes from those shows, here are events we thought should be included  in the Gardeners' Games. We'd love to talk about ideas for other events, or hear nominations of people who may already qualify as a champion in one or more of these categories. So we've begun a Forum topic to carry on this fun. If the notion catches on perhaps those of us who posted here, might be awarded some credit, or be invited to compete!

The events

  • Hose wrestling. Both speed and style  would count in pulling a stored hose to its full length and then returning it to original, coiled position. Special skills competition could develop in such events as blind extension -- pulling the hose to full length around a corner -- and de-kinking.
  • Speed weeding: Free a flat of seedlings from weedy sprouts. Points deducted for any collateral damage to desirable seedlings.


  • Precision wheelbarrowing. The gardener shovels a measured amount of mulch into a barrow. Then the gardener runs a course with the piled-high wheelbarrow, executing turns, weaves, a crossing of a rough surfaces, and negotiating a ramp. Total amount of mulch delivered to the finish line counts in determining the winner.

    Right: Who says wheelbarrowing can't be
    a competitive team sport? Baylee Rooksberry and Bobbie Tripp were out to beat all comers, this day!

  • Watering can relay. First member of the team fills a bucket from a distance, displaying accuracy in aim with a hose-en d water gun. Team member #2 carries that bucket to #3 and fills a watering can. #3 carries the can to the finish line, pouring into a measuring bucket. Speed counts but time's deducted for water lost along the way.
  • Power pruning. Despite the name, we envisioned it as work with plain old shears and/or hand clippers to reduce a boxwood or privet to fit into and rotate within a template. Penalty time to be added to elapsed time if the finished shrub is cut too small or does not fit precisely.
  • Pot put. Presented with a scattering of emptied pots of various sizes, the gardener matches and nests them and then creates a balanced stack.

Perhaps judges should announce results from lounge chairs or while leaning over a fence... but that might be too much like real life!