The down side of having all these critters is that the garden is going to hell in a hand basket. My vegetable garden and my once-decent flower beds are all looking orphaned and bedraggled, crying for a blanket of snow to cover their shame.
This is the time in Vermont when gardeners start putting away their trowels, but when they do so they leave behind neatly composted beds, trimmed of dead stems and mildewed detritus. I bet some of them even clean and oil their tools, even scrub out their flower pots and rinse them in bleach. But they don\’t have new puppies, or baby goats.
Let me take you on a tour of my disgraceful end-of-season garden. Proceeding in an orderly fashion from front to back the first thing you will observe is a tiny stick-like tree, a baby Japanese maple that the deer have attacked. The wee brave thing is still alive, however, as evidenced by the leaf buds on some limbs. A timely wrapping with burlap would ensure its surviving both deer and the coming blizzards, and I must do that one of these days.
Regard the flower beds along the front of the house. What is that white stuff sticking out from under the mulch like a slip showing under a skirt hem? It is plastic, placed there by me in better days to kill the noxious Bishop\’s Weed. It wouldn\’t take five minutes to tuck it all in neatly, and I would feel much better, but who has five minutes? The low-growing thyme that I planted among the flagstones would also feel much better if it got one last weeding—a two-hour job that I could do if Bisou were to lapse into a coma some day.
Ignore the mildewed lilacs and come to the back of the house. Yes, this is the vegetable garden: the deceased zucchini plant, the half-drowned peppers and eggplants, the pale tomatoes—all victims of this rainy summer and fall. The green crops—the kale and chard—are doing fine. Even the broccoli, gnawed into lace by snails, is still producing. The green beans, planted too late, are in full bloom, waiting to perish at the first frost.
Watch out, or you\’ll get snagged by the untrimmed rose bush! See how pathetic the flower bed by the back door looks: mildewed Echinacea, puny sage and thyme, a single nasturtium, clover everywhere. It would look even worse if the various mints—apple, orange, spear, and lemon balm—hadn\’t taken over most of the space.
On the barn wall the pumpkin vines hang limply dead, looking like giant cobwebs…perfect for Halloween, I guess. But I need to get those pumpkins to a dry spot where they can cure, if I can find a dry spot on this soggy hilltop.
How can I bring this gardening season to a graceful end? My days and nights truncated by puppy needs, I feel as tired as my plants look. But soon the first killing frost—the weary gardener\’s friend—will end my fretting, and when spring comes around again Bisou will be grown, the baby goats will be gone to their new homes, and I will grow the best garden ever.