What could be more wonderful than a late summer day with just a little work to do in the garden? I'm talking about a day when all the beds are weeded, the perennial flowers are deadheaded and anything that has been planted recently has been watered deeply enough to go a day or two without additional water.
This is truly a rare day. Nothing needs to be fertilized. Roses that suffered from black spot in spring have grown a set of new, spotless leaves. The lawn was mowed the day before yesterday and every sprinkler is operating well. The whole day is ahead with nothing more important in store than enjoying the fruits of previous labor.
The perfect way to begin a day like this is to take a long morning walk through the garden. Stroll for a change, enjoying the flowers, the foliage and the combination of plant color and texture that you helped create. Make a mental note of any colors you want to add to the garden. What area could use a fresh, new plant to fill a void? What ornament would balance the weight of a shrub border?
Of course, no gardener can peruse their own garden without pulling a stray weed or clipping off a dead twig here and there. Since I always carry a pair of pruners and a pocketful of natural jute garden twine, this is a convenient time to stop at the first arbor along the pathway. The side branches of the climbing Rosa "Zepherine Drouhin" have begun to flop and need to be tied in. This rose is a perfect climber for walkways since it is virtually thornless and its scent is strong enough to fill the air for several feet along the path.
In the early afternoon I take the time to make a cup of coffee and relax at the stone table on the main deck. For years, I imagined an old-fashioned, round greenhouse placed in the center of one of the large lawns. To help visualize its placement, I dragged a heavy, red rubber garden hose onto the lawn and laid it out in a circle on the grass. From my vantage point on the deck, I mulled this idea over and over as well as hundreds of other hopes and dreams for creating my garden.
I eventually decided on a structure that I found at a trade show called an Arctic Grill House. My sweet garden house is a small, six-sided cottage made of Finnish pine with a set of windows on each wall and French doors at the entrance. It's the perfect year-round habitat and it allows me to be outside yet remain warm and under cover in inclement weather. It has proven to be a magnet for impromptu group gatherings, personal conversations and parties and it gives me pleasure in every season.
Before the afternoon fades away, I wander along a wooded garden pathway surrounding the property. At this time of day, I am expecting a special feature of sunlight that comes just before the sun begins to set over the horizon; a moment in the day I've come to love so much. What I call "golden light" is the one aspect of my garden that I will miss the most for I have never seen it in any other garden and don't expect that I ever shall again.
I can only explain this all-encompassing golden light by saying that it must have something to do with the time of day, the altitude of my property and the relationship of the horizon to the lay of the land. Even on the most dreary winter day, there is a good chance that the clouds will break as the sun sets and anything within this angle of sunlight will come alive with an ambient, golden glow.
On a day like today, when commitments are few, I find the time to tackle a couple of light tasks that have fallen off the radar. What better way to spend a couple of free hours than to straighten garden ornaments that have begun to lean sideways over time? I adjust the placement of bird feeders so that all garden visitors feel safe enough to call this habitat home. Every once in a while, a gardener needs a day in the garden with very little to do. You will be amazed at what you can get done.
Robb Rosser is a WSU-certified master gardener. Reach him at Write2Robb@aol.com.