A light bulb

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Those of you who send me confused e-mails every time I write about gardening have an opportunity here. I don’t recall ever getting a particularly nasty e-mail about my peculiar penchant, but people often want to know, “Just what does gardening have to do with newspapering?”

Gardening for me is the universal metaphor. I guess that’s why I do it: It sets my mind free.

A month or so ago, our design intern in Sacramento, Ginger Fierstein, presented me with some tulip bulbs she’d purchased in Holland. Her generosity blew me away. But, here’s the conflict: While I’ve built three gardens in four years at Casa O’Brien-O’Brian-Spitzer-Burghart, I did not have a spot for a tulip garden. Think of it as having an available issue of a weekly paper, but no stories scheduled or even imagined for March 22, 2007.

I just happened to have most of the materials to build a raised-bed garden for some bulbs. I also have most of the resources I need to produce the first RN&R issue of spring.

So, to paraphrase any cop show you’d choose to name, I have motive (tulip blossoms from Holland in the spring), I have the means (bulbs, skills and materials), and I have the opportunity (a free weekend). All I need is the garden.

OK, to further illustrate the metaphor, I have motive (to keep my job), I have the means (an actual newspaper, staff and resources), and I have the opportunity (three months to plan and execute).

This weekend, I took those old sections of 2 by 10 redwood planks, and I built myself a 6-foot-by-3-foot raised-bed garden right next to the house, where it will match the much larger herb garden. And, assuming I get some triple mix soil into the box this week, and assuming the winter is very cold for at least six weeks, I’m going to have some beautiful, multi-colored tulips growing right next to my front doorstep come spring.

Now, does anyone have any ideas for the first issue of spring?