I love gardens. I wish mine looked like the “Secret Garden” in the movie, with its climbing roses, vines and daffodils, but I’ve come to appreciate the succulents and bougainvillea of Southern California.

The thing I like best about gardens is that they always give you a second chance. Even a third chance. Year after year.

My garden is very forgiving. I plant tomatoes early in spring, in many different areas of the yard, so they don’t share their love of fungi and various diseases with each other. When one turns brown and dies, I just rip it out, replace the soil, and try again. My cherry tomatoes taste wonderful, better than the store brands that are called “cherubs.” Are they supposed to taste heavenly or like cherubs might taste? I don’t know…. I know that mine taste great.

And I try to get as many as possible eaten before the evil villain shows up in Act 2: The tomato worm.

I wake up one morning and everything is wonderful –– the sun is shining, the temperature is spring-like. My optimism is in full gear, ready to have a beautiful day, and then I go outside and discover the ugly truth.

My tomato plants are decimated and playing unhappy host to a couple of chubby worms on the last remaining stems. They are staring at me with beady eyes.

I cry a little, scream a little, and then just settle down and pick the worms off one by one, and start over again. Kind of like life. Deal with the problems one at a time, and hopefully, what was growing will come back and still produce good things. Second chances can happen –– in the garden and in life.