Behind every dedicated gardener is a Significant Other who may sometimes complain that the gardener is spending too much time in the garden but who, at other times, secretly hopes that the gardener quits lazing around on the couch and surrenders the remote. Now that I've referred to my own SO in the requisite politically-correct way, let me be frank: A Sunday or so back, Mrs. ProfessorRoush kicked me out into the garden.
It's true that I've been slow to get back into the garden as the weather cooled down this Fall, but a couple of frenzied days in September seemed sufficient to keep my low-maintenance garden in a condition better than a complete disaster and they allowed me to keep the Winter preparatory chores caught up to my vague gardening chores schedule. Additionally, since the immediate surrounding lawn of my house is buffalograss, now entering dormancy, and the outer lawn is mowed prairie, also entering dormancy, I have mowed the lawn a grand total of once in all of September. I have yet to have to mow at all in October, here at the end of the month and it appears, in fact, that I'm done mowing for the year except that I'm still waiting for seedheads in my new wildflower garden to mature before I mow it off. Only then will I stow the mower, add winter stabilizers to the gasoline, and sharpen the blades in preparation for spring. I've planted the Fall bulbs and I have tied up some of the taller rose canes so that they don't whip themselves to death with winter wind.
But I suppose that She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO) was perplexed that I wasn't pushing on with a new project such as bulldozing berms into the back yard or constructing a 20X100 foot greenhouse. Since SWMBO doesn't garden herself, she may not easily recognize the remaining symptoms of August gardening depression, that melancholy that hits gardeners when the temperatures soar over 100 and the garden shrivels to brown crepe paper. Or, perhaps more likely, she just wanted some alone time in her domain of the house proper. So she used the feeble excuse that I looked pale and needed a little sun and sent me packing with instructions to find something to keep myself busy outdoors.
And, of course, needing little urging beyond a well-timed spousal kick in the pants, I did just that. I spread some well-rotted alfalfa tea that had been percolating for a week on several roses, divided a couple of daylilies, took pictures of a few late flowers for the blog, watered the compost pile, watered the recently-transplanted irises, cleaned out the bluebird nest boxes on my bluebird trail, took down and cleaned out the purple martin houses, drained two hoses and put them up for winter, and sat down for a minute or two in my gazebo. That pretty much constituted a full afternoon of garden dawdling. Well, I guess I also daydreamed a little bit about future garden plans and projects while sitting in the gazebo. On that beautiful October day, the perfect garden seemed yet within my grasp. Refreshed, I returned indoors alongside the fading sun. Most importantly, SWMBO seemed satisfied with the duration of my exile to the garden and pronounced on my return that I had some color back in my cheeks.
Good marriages are made of many things, but great marriages are made when a gardener's spouse recognizes those moments when the soul of the gardener needs to merge with the soil of the garden. I am lucky to have found my Helen of Gardening, she sufficiently beautiful to launch a thousand garden beds. If puttering in the garden is what it takes to keep Mrs. ProfessorRoush happy, then puttering is the least I can do.