From the eyes of a spouse

-It’s been a few days since my last post, but with basil, zinnia, ageratum, petunia, and other seedlings still awaiting a permanent home, compost to screen, and weeds sprouting faster than my achy hands can pull them, my husband agreed to help out here with his point of view on living with a gardener – joene

Around here, gardening starts in March. No wait, it starts in February … No … make that …

Does it have a starting point? It sometimes seems that it’s gardening, 24 hours a day, every day of every month. I know that’s not completely true, but …

Gardens_0055 Fcopy In spring the gardening machine goes into high gear. For the past couple of months, I’ve been reacquainted with the smells of fresh potting soil, the sight of black plastic containers of damp dirt – none of which is outdoors. I’m trying harder NOT to stub my toe on the plant rack, that I built, which is difficult to maneuver around because it must take advantage of a sunny window (in spite of being outfitted with three 4-ft grow lights).

As spring rolls into warmer and warmer summer weather, the tiny plants slowly make their way to larger plots of rich soil, and eventually greet the great outdoors. Therein the little fellows meet another set of challenges – be it the unseen subterranean voles or slimy slippery slugs. It just doesn’t stop. Maybe it’s draught, maybe it’s high wind, maybe it’s far too ubiquitous deer but these plants never seem safe.

Hori-Hori With out a doubt, my wife is the gardener here. Our friends know it; our family knows it, and I’m not ashamed to say that I come to gardening through marriage. That’s not to say that I don’t participate. I help out here and there. But I don’t plant things and I try … I really try … not to unplant things. I don’t have, nor do I want, any gardening space to call my own … what would I do with such a space? I’m the helper, the laborer, the machine you call for a little extra lifting ummph, and I like it that way. I have helper tools – a shovel, rake, wheel barrel, ax, chainsaw, and now a new hoe, limb saw and my own orange-handled holy-edged-weapon-batman serious hori-hori knife.

Summer starts this month. Memorial day has passed. All the little seedlings have outgrown their cozy space under the lamps and have moved for a summer of outdoor living. The aroma of fertile soil is now outside, the plant rack is back in storage, and the gardens are taking on a fuller look. Some flowers have had their day and are ready for dead heading (see I’ve paid attention), others are yet to bloom. The cycle continues through the vegetable harvest when literally the fruits of labor come to the table.

For those who come to gardening on their own, none of this is new. You do this each and every year, all year, yourselves. You have lights, you have dirt, you have plastic thingy’s to grow in and you have a strong desire to create. For those who are not yet there – who are just starting out but wanting to be gardeners – those striving to achieve the type of gardens you’ve allowed yourself to dream of, this is what you, and those you share your home with, have to look forward to. Good luck and enjoy your creations as much as those who see it from the sidelines do.

Gardens_0041 Fcopy My husband also has a keen eye through a camera lens, evident in the iris photo here and some of his other captures at

6 comments for “From the eyes of a spouse

  1. June 7, 2010 at 5:53 am


    What a great idea for a post. You sound much like my husband who also comes to gardening through marriage. While he has his own priorities in the garden – mainly caring for the grass and digging all the holes- the highest one in my mind is not to ‘unplant’ anything. Like you, he’s an invaluable asset to me as a gardener, undoubtedly my favorite tool to make the garden come alive. Although I do love my hori-hori knife too!

  2. June 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I need a husband helper. Can you get up to Bloomfield? I have a list for you. Actually mine will spread mulch and mow, and those are two tasks I hate, so it’s a good partnership as far as it goes. He never unplants things.

    Great post… I enjoyed the different perspective!

  3. June 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Not all garden husbands are so helpful. Recently, someone got to my blog by searching Google under the phrase “husband won’t mulch.” I’ll never know what she was looking for — Arguments for mulching? Instructions on how to do it herself? Substitutes for mulching? A new husband? (What she found at my blog was the first two.)

  4. joenesgarden
    June 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    In addition to mulching, mowing, digging, and helping me out with extra heavy stuff Ralph has become pretty good at not unplanting – even the plants in the little black thingys. He is even beginning to learn the names of certain plants.

    No, Laurrie … not lending him out.

    Jean, I can’t imagine what someone was looking for by searching ‘husband won’t mulch.’ Maybe a solution to a slouch potato? Anyway, the idea made me laugh.

  5. ralph
    June 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    thanks for the comments. It was fun to write it up. Now I have to wonder what’s next. Maybe I’ll screen some compost right after I go photograph a baseball game.

  6. June 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    beautiful iris picture. Gardening is in our genes!

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