Let’s play a quick game of guess-who-said-this: “Everything hurts and I’m dying.” 

If you guessed Leslie Knopps from the acclaimed sitcom “Parks and Recreations,” you get half a gold sticker! But the real attribution goes to Mother Earth herself. 

2020 is a testament to it, with blazing forest fires and a new record heat since the 19th century. In all its maleficence though, has brought with it one singular blessing: time. The time that can be dedicated for the betterment of this small orb as it’s the only one we have (for the meantime at least). 

The entire main cast of
[Image Description: Main cast of “Parks and Recreation”] Via Deadline
Change is hard. Where are you supposed to start? What are you supposed to do? Most importantly, how do you continue? Answer: small steps. The key is to make your commitment gradual. Start with reusable bags and then eventually work towards a garden. But the most important thing is building a community. You need people to esteem and others that don’t do so hot because both inspire and motivate you to be a better version of yourself. 

In honor of one of the very few shows that manage to pull off an environment-esque foundation, here are the “Parks and Recreation” characters ranked least to best by how well they’d manage a garden. 

10. Tom

GIF of Tom from
[Image Description: GIF of Tom throwing money in the air] Via Giphy
Tom is a businessman. He doesn’t get his business ideas while watering his flowers or tending to his dirt but from movement. And plants don’t do movement. Nor do they germinate ideas. His ranking might also be because of the fact that he enjoys little puppies riding motorcycles to “big dumb ponds”. Can’t blame him. 

9. Donna

GIF of Donna from
[Image Description: GIF of Donna looking to the camera confused] Via Buzzfeed
There’s a reason why Donna and Tom get along so well. They understand each other because they’re the same type of person – the type who doesn’t do so well with plants. The only reason why she ranks higher than Tom is that I feel that she’d at least try – or make Joe try. 

Donna just doesn’t have time for plants with her life filled with annulments, NASCAR races, and starting niche trends. Tending to a plant, let alone a whole garden of them, takes dedicated time and effort — two things that don’t concern Donna. She’s already live-tweeting about the futility in ranking her as I write this. 

 8. Andy

Andy from
[Image Description: GIF of Andy looking to the camera in pure glee] Via Giphy
Andy is Andy, what can I say. He arguably undergoes the most character growth from a sluggish oaf to a satisfied worksman. But can he take on plants?

Short answer, maybe leaning to a no. If made to, there’s no doubt that he would at least try with effort. Andy, though, only works well with sentient objects to an egregious degree. He works with children because, in his heart, he is one. And while the only difference between a child and a plant is movement, movement is what Andy needs. 

7. April

GIF of April from
[Image Description: GIF of April looking at the camera menacingly while dipping her tea bag in her cup] Via Tenor
April would be disinterested in planting, but she would at least try. During Andy’s trial period, she’d definitely be supportive through and through, maybe even helping him with her own thumb. Would she do it on her own though? No. There’s no reason for her too. 

6. Leslie

GIF of Leslie from
[Image Description: GIF of Leslie losing feeling in her tongue] Via Giphy
For the entirety of “Parks and Rec”, Leslie cements herself as a typical businessperson: doing things for gain. This attitude subdues by the end of the series, but for a lady of committees galore, there would simply be no time to tend to a garden. She earns points, however, for attempting to cultivate a community garden so she’s got the upper edge there.   

5. Ben Wyatt

Ben from
[Image Description: GIF of Ben looking to the camera seriously] Via Tenor
Ben is known as the serious guy. At times, he feels incongruous with others liking things that others don’t but also not understanding the things they do. 

When it comes to gardening, Ben would most definitely take it seriously. He would buy a handbook from a local bookstore and spend hours cultivating the perfect garden. Almost too-perfect. Something he wouldn’t get is the secret to growing plants well which books can’t teach: rapport.

4. Ann Perkins

Ann from
[Image Description: GIF of Ann smiling cutely at the camera] Via Giphy
Like Ben, Ann would adhere strictly to a planting handbook. Unlike Ben though, she has that secret touch needed for a green thumb; she’s a nurse after all. Even though she has the ability, I just don’t envision her planting a garden of her own volition. She is rooted too closely to the clipboard, working the statistics and numbers of everything, and to pile it on top of a family is a lot to ask. 

3. Chris

GIF of Chris from
[Image Description: GIF of Chris saying “I may never smile again”] Via Buzzfeed
Chris needs plants. A volatile person needs some sort of natural grounding for their life to remain intact and perhaps a garden is exactly the solution. Enough of this unduly cheeriness too, Chris needs a tether to remind him that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I like to believe that plants are the easiest and most harmless solution for that. 

2. Ron

GIF of Ron from
[Image Description: GIF of Ron running from the camera with a nature backpack saying “Godspeed”] Via Giphy
Tell me, would a breakfast man not like plants? 

Ron’s interests are already amongst those living in the woods. Woodworking and animals are natural derivations of nature. Gardening is an easy extension of his hobbies then and he’s sure to pick it up easily. 

1. Jerry

GIF of Jerry from
[Image Description: GIF of Jerry asking “You didn’t bring a tent?”] Via Rebloggy
This one is obvious. If you disagree, I politely direct you to Season 1, Episode 2 “Canvassing.” Jerry is the tour guide on the teen nature walk and there’s a touching moment where Jerry is bending down explaining characteristics of the Honeysuckle to the group. 

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jerry would be the best plant caretaker there is. He is privy to each of their individual needs as a bonafide plantsman. Plants being insentient beings would spare him the judgment and ridicule he evokes from others at his workplace. They provide a haven for him as he provides one for them – a perfectly symbiotic relationship. 

These are all of my own professional opinions. A purely speculative one, in fact; there is no telling how each character would do if they don’t at least try. That is the lesson to take away today: you won’t know whether you’re better than Tom or not if you don’t seek a plot of land and plant some seeds yourself.

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  • Julie Ham

    Julie Ham is a current high school senior. She hopes to study the intersection between computer science and journalism.