The gardensitter

Allium

Is there a worse time than May for a gardener to go on an almost three-week trip? Probably not. Therefore doubts kept creeping up on me as I was getting myself and the garden ready, covering the unplanted garden beds with black plastic so they would not turn into a weed patch, laying out soaker hoses, prepping seedlings, and writing to-do lists for the gardensitter – my husband.

He has been a gardener much longer than I am, and the garden is in good hands with him. Yet it is not easy to relinquish the care of one’s tender plants to someone else. I am sure my husband would have much more serious concerns if he were the one being away that long during this time of the year. He would find hay instead of a lawn upon his return because I have never touched a lawnmower in my life.

Allium in flower bed

The division of yard work between us somehow fell into place without us ever talking about it, and it works perfectly.  When we take visitors on a garden tour my husband always tells them that I handle everything under three feet tall: the flower and perennial beds, the vegetable garden, and the berry patch. He takes care of the lawn, trees, shrubs, and the many other tasks of a groundskeeper. Right now he needs to work double shift, rain or shine.

It is not only the logistics of the garden that made me second-guess the timing of my trip. It is also all the “events” that I will be missing. The crabapple blossom had just started when I left. I will be away when the alliums and the lilac bloom, and when the two new quince trees we planted will develop their first leaves. The day of my departure I saw the first fava beans, a premiere in my garden this year, breaking through the soil. I also saw a third seedling of the blue false indigo emerging, which thrilled me because coaxing the seeds into germination was a patience test. And, I noticed tiny yellow buds on the kale plants that I left in the garden from last year to collect the seeds, and I would love to see them fully open.

Kale flower

My precious gardensitter sends me email alerts about late frosts, usually a screenshot of the local weather report with the subject line, “What needs covers?”. And he does something else that is not in his job description: he takes a camera along on his daily maintenance rounds.

Iris

Photos by Ted Rosen

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